Today was the first day of the 2012 Eurogamer Expo at Earls Court in London. One of the biggest events in the British gaming calendar, the expo saw 1000s of attendees queue for hours to get their hands on the latest games and consoles – this years big draw being Nintendo’s Wii U and it’s line-up of launch titles. With the biggest floor space at Eurogamer, Nintendo were out in force and if attendance (the queue snaked round and round their massive stand) can equate to even 50% of sales then the Big N has another uber-hit on it’s hands.
But Eurogamer is about all consoles and games, from Nintendo to Microsoft, Sony to Sega and everything in between! I managed to get play time with a number of varied and interesting games, including some built for iOS. Here’s my thoughts on just a few of them:
Carmageddon: Funsize (iOS)
A remake of the classic and controversial game that was banned all around the world, Carmageddon Funsize is a fantastic iOS port of the original title, with all the same death, gore and carnage that made the game so notorious. Easy to control and a whole heap of (bloody) fun, from the time I spent with the game I’d say it’s a must-buy when it launches on the App Store soon.
The latest incarnation of the Devil May Cry franchise from the developers at Ninja Theory, DmC is a parallel tale to the original franchise featuring an all-new Dante, complete with new skills and a new look. Straight off the bat, DmC impresses with it’s graphics, which look like a cross between Ninja Gaiden and Borderlands. However despite looking good the game has some control issues – yes, it’s easy to put together awesome looking combos with your gun, sword and hook weapons, but at the same time the climbing and leaping/gliding mechanic needs serious work, for one the double button combination needed feels forced and not intuitive to smooth gameplay…
Hitman: Absolution (Xbox360)
A thorough disappointment. It plays like an old-school Hitman game yet looks like recent release Sleeping Dogs. And in the version that was playable at the expo there was way too much walking around and not nearly enough Hitman-style action. Probably why they needed such a controversial ad campaign – the game won’t sell itself.
Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit (PS3)
A madcap platformer that features humour on a par with comic icons such as Howard the Duck and Deadpool, Hell Yeah! tells the story of Ash, the titular dead rabbit and also the ruler of Hell… That is until he’s caught in the bath with a rubber ducky (told you this game was funny) and the story is viewed by 100 of hells minions – a hundred monsters which you must track down and kill if Ash’s reputation is to stay intact. Crazy, over the top, and gloriously violent game that screams “play me” Hell Yeah! is, thankfully, due to hit XBLA and PSN next week.
Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale (PS3)
Everything you’ve read about this game is true. It IS the Playstation equivalent of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros Melee, and surprisingly it IS as good. The graphics are bright and vibrant, the controls work well and it’s a whole lot of fun – even mores if you’re playing with three other human opponents!
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (PS3)
Yet another disappointment. Developed by Sanzaru Games, who brought us the HD ports of the original trilogy, the game features very similar graphics (which to be honest still look like HD updates of the original, not fresh current-gen graphics). Theives in Time, aka Sly 4, follows from the end of Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves and sees you try to reunite with his gang to locate and recover the Thievius Raccoonus. You can control Sly, Bentley, Murray, Carmelita Fox, and Sly’s ancestors, using their thieving skills to pull off heists and reveal who has tampered with the Cooper history – often switching between characters as and when necessary in each level. I understand the need to tie the new game into those of old, but sadly Sly 4 doesn’t even feel like a new game, just a tired one.
God of War: Ascension (PS3)
Kratos is back in a prequel to the original games which brings us more of the same, yet adds more subtlety. Only joking. There’s nothing subtle about this game! With the same fantastic graphics as seen in God of War 3, plus tons of blood, gore (the demote we played saw you tear open a bosses head and expose his brain to kill him!), huge landscapes and more massive monsters! Whilst it looks and plays the same as GoW3, there scope and size seems a lot bigger this time round. Our hands on time also include a brief play in the new multiplayer arena “deathmatches” as well – which pass the time but offer nothing new to the franchise.
Tokyo Jungle (PS3)
If you attend the Eurogamer Expo this weekend and don’t at least have a quick go on Tokyo Jungle then you’ve done yourself a huge disservice. Possibly the weirdest game I’ve EVER played, the game sees you take control of animals in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo where you must fight and forage for survival… Sounds strange? It is. The demo at the expo saw you given the choice of playing as a Pomeranian or a Deer. Play as the dog and you must kill and eat other animals; play as the deer and you must forage for plants whilst avoiding larger predators. The game rewards you for surviving “Years” (merely minutes in real time terms) and you can, instead of levelling up, “gen-up” where you mate with another of your species and breed a new generation! Bizarre is not the word for Tokyo Jungle…
Our second day at the 2012 Eurogamer Expo was all about playing those games we didn’t get a chance to yesterday, including queueing for the Nintendo WiiU booth for nearly an hour (our first port of call for the day). Still the busiest stand at the expo, we managed to get in line early – I feel sorry for the poor souls that came in on 11am tickets, by that time the queue was as big as it was yesterday!
Being a Saturday meant that the expo was even busier than yesterday, with plenty of eager gamers queueing up to play any and all games, even Tokyo Jungle! (Check out yesterday report for more on that peculiar game). Today was a mixed bag of titles with Nintendo’s WiiU offerings definitely stealing the show… even if it was weird playing a game with others whilst NOT looking at the TV – something that traditional gamers will have to get used to!
The highlights (and lowlights) of our second day at Eurogamer Expo:
Rayman Legends (WiiU)
Ubisoft’s Rayman franchise has gone from strength to strength recently and Rayman Legends is no exception. Graphically on a par with Rayman Origins, the game features the same colourful landscapes and characters – but with the added WiiU gamepad experience. Totally revitalising the two-player experience, Rayman Legends sees on player take to the joypad to control the main character, whilst the second player controls Murfy, interacting with the games enemies and scenery in order to help the first player progress through the levels. It’s all about teamwork rather than one-up-manship, which definitely taps into the Nintendo “family gaming” ethos.
New Super Mario Bros. U (WiiU)
Taking all the made the original Wii iteration of New Super Mario Bros great and adding a “god-like” controller on the WiiU gamepad, NSMBU is more, from what we experienced, an updating of the first game – think “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. Another vibrant game, with the new graphics capability of the WiiU shining through, this is a fun, family-friendly game that plays best in groups – of up to FIVE players this time! Definitely a day-of-release purchase in my book.
Dead or Alive 5 (PS3)
Yet another graphically gorgeous game on the PS3, Dead or Alive 5 is the first game not to feature the input of franchise creator Tomonobu Itagaki, but from what we played you cannot tell! Featuring a varied selection of characters, old and new, and plenty of alternate costumes (yes folks you CAN play the female characters in bikinis), DOA 5 is basically more of the same. Fast, frenetic fighting action, with – at least in the demo we played – some unevenly balanced characters this looks set to please fans of the series but won’t do much to convert other fighting franchise aficionados.
Doom 3: BFG Edition (PC)
A redux of the much-maligned threequel, Doom 3: BFG Edition is everything you remember about the Doom series, only with current-gen graphics and 3D. The active 3D works, thank god, but that’s all the game had to offer. Sadly time hasn’t been forgiving to the Doom series and whilst the games were pioneers in their time, I couldn’t hwelp but keep comparing this iteration which the much better Dead Space… THe atmosphere is the same, with enemies popping up when you least expect them but here in Doom 3 there’s just no story to help it along. Only for hardcore fans of the franchise I suspect.
Forza Horizon (Xbox360)
I’ll admit I’m not a huge fan of the Forza franchise, however this new “spin-off” from the core series, from British game developer Playground Games, may go a long way to converting me. Part traditional Forza title and part Outrun-style arcade racer, Forza Horizon has one key attribute going for it. It’s a hell of a lot of fun! Graphically stunning, with real-world physics alongside a great competitive storyline, the game is unlike anything else in the Forza series – and for me that’s why it succeeds.
Hotline: Miami (PC)
The true darkhorse at the expo, Hotline: Miami is a top down arcade style shooter that sees you play the part of hitman in the 1980s, shooting, stabbing and clubbing your enemies in what looks to be a straight from the NES era game – only things were never this violent back in those days! Think Gauntlet meets Miami Vice and you’ll get the idea. With a fantastic soundtrack, retro graphics and seriously hardcore gameplay, I was completely blown away by it.