Saturday, 7 January 2012

EuroGamer 2011

We started the weekend by staying in our usual hotel.  The EuroGamer and train tickets lay neatly on the desk ready for Saturday morning. Our bags packed with essentials such as PlayStation magazines and sweets for the train journey.

I laid there awake for most of Friday night like an excited child waiting for Christmas morning, I was desperately trying to sleep as we had to be up for 6am but all I could think about was which games I wanted to see the most.

After finally falling asleep I was soon being woke by my iPhones alarm playing the Super Mario Bros theme. Just enough time for a shower, a quick stop at McDonalds to pick up breakfast and a hot chocolate and then off to the train station - the excitement was building rapidly!

We finally arrived at Earls Court and located our early entry queue. It wasn't long before we were greeted with Cyber Candys mascot The Candy Overlord who was giving out lollipops, it was certainly good advertising as it had us wanting to go and check out their store to see what they had to offer. I also saw a great variation of cosplay this year including some fantastic costumes from Zelda Twilight Princess, Star Wars, Mario, Portal 2, batman and many others!

It wasn't long before 10am was upon us and we were filing into the building. I was overcome with a rush of excitement - where to go first? Whats this over here? Do we play games or go buy T-shirts from Insert Coin first? Wow look at this! Hey look at that! OOoooooo ! We spent a lot of the day collecting free stuff from developers - mostly T-shirts, lanyards, posters, papercrafts, bags and even some personalised Battlefield 3 dogtags !

So, down to the games.

We started out at the PlayStation Vita booth. 
I was given Wipeout 2048 to play and a member of the team to talk me through how to navigate the Vita. It played beautifully. It had a nice weight to it, it was sleek and the graphics were top quality, it was just like playing Wipeout HD on the PS3. I was first invited to try it with the analogue controls which handled brilliantly. After the race was over I then tried a race using the Vitas motion controls, this was much trickier. It only needed slight movements to turn corners and I like that the touchscreen on the back on the console is the acceleration button, as your fingers tend to  touch the back anyway when you are holding it so it leaves and extra finger free for other buttons.

Next up we moved onto the Battlefield 3 booth. 
We jumped straight into a multiplayer match and it was everything I expected it to be. Once I had got used to the controls I set about trying the different class types. The map we were given was a subway and we started on the tracks, having to make our up the stairs where the other team was waiting for us. This was our only exit so I didn't get a chance to use many of the weapons apart from running and gunning with an assault rifle and grenades. Overall I enjoyed it, even if we did join the match half way through and my team lost!

We then decided to take a walk around and check out the other areas so we went along to the Retro Zone. I really enjoyed walking around seeing all the old classics but the one that excited me the most was seeing Goldeneye 007 on the N64. We watched some younger kids playing the multiplayer on it and it brought back some great memories of when we used to play it when I was younger. I am really looking forward to Goldeneye 007 : Reloaded coming out on the PS3 soon.

The Indie Games Arcade was quite busy so we just took a look at the games as we walked past, everything looked unique and there was some great ideas for game play and i'm looking forward to hopefully seeing some of these on the PSN store soon.

Whilst walking through Zone 3 we stumbled upon Ridge Racer : Unbounded which felt unlike the other Ridge Racer games I've played and more like a cross between Need for Speed and Burnout, which is a great improvement. The only problem I had with the game was when I was trying to drift around corners to build up my boost bar, sometimes it would work and other times it just wouldn't register and I ended up slamming the car into a wall on the corner.

I also caught a quick glimpse of Rayman Origins. This looked beautiful and although its a fairly simple 2D game it had a lot of variation of obstacles and style of navigation.

Something that I would have liked to have seen was Uncharted 3 in single player rather than the multiplayer that was demoed. It looked very nice but I was eager to see just how much they have done with the graphics as each game they release just gets better and better.

We headed back to the over 18s section and had a quick play on Saints Row 3. A few of the people on there were checking out the character customisation feature, making their male characters wear short skirts, gorilla heads, girly tops and using a big floppy purple adult toy called 'The Penetrator' that wriggled around as they used it to whack pedestrians to death. I heard one person describe it as "a funnier version on Grand Theft Auto - the way Grand Theft Auto used to be" which is partially true but I must admit Grand Theft Auto's realism and fantastic graphics are no match for Saints Row in my eyes.

The last 3 games were definitely some of the biggest and best.

First up - Batman : Arkham City.  Although a lot of the allocated time to play before you got kicked off to keep the queue moving was spent watching very nice looking cutscenes that couldn't be skipped, once you actually got the chance to swoop down from the roof top using Batmans cape it instantly felt right. The combat is very simple as it was in Arkham Asylum which helps move the game along, they make it slightly more challenging by giving you small groups to fight so you get a chance to evade attacks and counter them while getting your punches in at the same time.

Secondly we have Starhawk. This is one game that as a big Warhawk fan I am eagerly waiting for next year. While I would have loved to have played some multiplayer, the single player was epic and felt very much like Warhawk but with updated graphics, much more fluid movement and lots of attention to detail.  I hope Starhawk brings people together as much as Warhawk did, I have so many great memories and friendships from Warhawk, if we get the freedom to create our own minigames in this like we did with Warhawk (for example : Team Killer Anonymous) then its going to be an instant success.

Last but not least we have game that I have been waiting for for what seems like forever - The Elder Scrolls V : Skyrim. This epic game is being released 5 years after the immensely popular Elder Scrolls IV : Oblivion. This amazing RPG  game is too big to go into any real detail, but if you have seen the demos recently released its like that but when you play it you see just how much work has gone into it. Every little detail that you notice looks fantastic. New gameplay that I noticed while playing was a horse and cart that I found, I talked to the driver and you can pay him to give you a lift to different areas for a small amount of gold, just climb into the back of the cart and let him fast track you to your destination. I approached a glistening river which looked stunning, I dived in with fingers crossed that it had been improved from Oblivions murky green fogginess in which you couldn't see very far in - I can happily say I was not disappointed. The crystal clear water was a pleasure to swim through, there was even fish swimming around that you could catch and eat which added to the realism. After playing with the dual wielding of the weapons I ended my time in Skyrim but exploring a castle. The whole building was just amazing, it actually felt like a real castle, the attention to detail was superb, the decorating in the castle was just perfect. If you compared it to a castle in Oblivion you would suddenly see Oblivions castles as a very bland building that had been very simply designed. In Skyrim you can easily get lost in a building of that size and complexity.  I cannot put into words just how great this looks and if I have around 500 hours on Oblivion I dread to think how much of my life Skyrim is going to take from me.

If there's one thing that really made the day for me more than the games it was getting my name down for an exclusive PlayStation Access members developer session with Naughty Dog for Uncharted 3 with Nathan Drake's voice actor Nolan North ! We watched a clip from Uncharted 3 and then there was a Q&A session and then after that Nolan North was kind enough to sign my Uncharted 3 PS3 skin and pose in a photo with me!

I shall always hold a grudge against that light in the background which made the picture a bit too dark!

If I had to choose one word to sum up my day at the EuroGamer Expo 2011 it would have to be - Geekgasam.

Roll on EuroGamer Expo 2012 ! 27th - 30th September !

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