Gamer conventions are tiring. Lots of fun, but tiring. Eurogamer's expo in London's Earl's Court is no exception, and with a decent amount of titles on offer to play there was an overwhelming sense of "too much to try and not enough time". I'd gone down to see some friends from a forum I visit, in truth the expo was nothing more than an elaborate but devious ploy to lure us all to a common location. It was very peculiar meeting people I'd argued with on the internet for nearly 5 years in person, but despite a somewhat awkward start we eventually ended up having a great time together. I could write about that great time we had in a terrible comedy or getting so freakin' excited in the Science Museum, but what you guys are probably here for is for me to talk about games you haven't played. So let's do that.
The first game we decided to play was none other than Dance Central 2, Harmonix's new dancing based £130 peripheral seller. It was good fun too, the game seemed to recognise my inability to dance remarkably well, and even managed to point out I was "off beat" almost all the time! However getting into this insult generator proved, shall we say, difficult. My good friend Danny decided to dance off against me in an attempt to make my humiliation at least 20% more bearable, but the Kinect sensor was reasonably convinced he didn't exist. After nearly 5 minutes of fruitless flailing his girlfriend Lisa took his place during the menu segments and just managed to make the Kinect acknowledge a second player long enough to allow dnny to dance against me. A video of both the humilating dance off and the kinect's inability to.. well work shall be uploaded soon, and then this blog shall be edited accordingly.
Click the picture above to see a video of Dance Central 2 not working followed by a hilariously terrible dance off.
After that fun little dive in social awkwardness we then went around the convention for a while before settling in front of Final Fantasy XIII-2, a game I found inexplicably hilarious due to it's thoroughly unfriendly title. The game itself was... well horribly confusing but achingly pretty. There seemed to be a puzzle section half way through that resembled a sort of Tron meets Q*Bert thing, but not only was it mind numbingly easy it only lasted all of 2 minutes until we were back walking down a corridor past things that want to kill you. I imagne Final Fantasy fans will love it, because for some reason you all tolerate games that are as boring as navigating an excel spreadsheet on the average time it takes for paint to dry relative to the growth of grass. Oh and there is a boss at the end of the demo that the rest of my party decided to dedicate up to half an hour beating. At least we could sit down.
This is a screenshot of FFXIII-2. Well, technically it is anyway...
After that a fellow colleague ran over to the Sonic generations Booth and we all had a good sit and play of it. Sonic generations is a lot like old sonic games, but now without any of the original level designs and the addition of QTE's as opposed to it just hoping you know there are spikes there. The modern Sonic sections were curiously designed, as they may as well have been 2d levels for all the breathing space you got in them. Having beat Sonic 3 before I went to the convention I found Generations to be a completely misguided attempt to hone in on fan's adoration for the older sonic games while fundamentally missing the fact that their redesigned levels were infinitely worse. It did look quite pretty though.
We then had a bit of a go on Skyward Sword, which was interesting if a little disappointing. The MotionPlus stuff seemed to work quite well, though navigating the beetle through tricky mazes was perhaps a little too frustrating and not responsive enough at times. The sword fighting was good fun though, and the game looked quite pretty in general. I didn't get a huge amount of time with the game so I don't rally have much more to add. I like the new villain, he was pretty cool.
This bird guarded the Zelda booth. He didn't do a very good job...
After Zelda we ended up in a retro booth, which was awesome. We played Goldeneye, some weird generic Japanese fighting game on the Neo Geo, Micro Machines 2 (a hilarious if utterly flawed game) and even Pac-Man on Atari! Definitely a highlight as we all got to play against each other and managed to get some old school joy from a good Goldeneye deathmatch.
Back to new games, I played Dark Souls for 30 seconds on 360. I died twice.
After Dark Souls our party split as I decided to queue up for Arkham city, with my new friend Daniel joining me, while the others went off to find something without an hours queue. After a 50 minute wait we finally got to play the latest Batman game and it was marvellous. Arkham City is a considerable upgrade from Asylum, the skyline of the walled off open air prison is a beautiful and expansive with on overwhelming sense of both freedom but also oppression. If Arkahm City suffers from anything it is a sense of being overwhelmed, there was far too much to do inside of 10 minutes, so much that I got distracted by a Riddler Puzzle and failed to even finish the demo's storyline. The demo opened with a Catwoman section, and while cool as it was to play and the feline femme fatal it didn't feel terribly different from playing the dark knight himself. I think this was more to do with a limitation on the part of the demo, all I got was a beat 'em up against a band of non too smart thugs. After that it was over to Batman, now talking to Alfred instead of Oracle, and onto the task of finding Catwoman and confronting two face. Having seen the demo play out online in full before I opted to instead roam the city a bit. After finding a riddle trophy I couldn't obtain due to my cryptograph not being able to crack open the electric fence, I went and beat up some random thugs, one of whom was an informant for the Riddler. After bullying him into giving up the location of some of Riddler's secrets I wet over to the courthouse and tried to solve a puzzle with a now improved remote control batteraunge. This newly improved gadget had a boot, a brake and the ability to do a 180 degree flip. Despite my best efforts I couldn't solve the puzzle adn then time was up. The game in general feels much darker and much heavier than Arkham Asylum did, even the HUD comes across as more dank and depressing. If Arkham City suffers from anything it will most likely be how the scale of the City makes it too easy to get distracted, and how the new atmosphere can be too oppressive. Overall though I was hugely impressed, and this game remains my most wanted.
Picture of the hero Gotham deserves and Batman
After Batman we headed into the 18+ area and caught up with the guys playing an abandoned Resistance 3 booth. The game looked fantastic on the big HD screens they'd brought and it actually played much better than I anticipated. I'll be renting it this week for sure.
Then I had a spin on Saints Row 3, and came away very disappointed. Despite all the hype around the game I can happily say it still feels like a 2nd class title. The graphics are dated, the mechanics felt old and antiquated and the weapons, while childish fun and imaginative, are little more than cool window dressing to an otherwise thoroughly vanilla title. Also, it's 2011, and if you make a game with a big open world city and you don't let me climb all over it you better have a damn good reason. Saints Row 3 failed to offer that reason, and as a result it frustrated and bored me. Do not be fooled by the cool weapons, watching youtube clips of them is just as fun as using them, it is not a good enough excuse for old design and subpar visuals.Go buy Just Cause 2, you'll have a better time, just less dildos.
As we left the convention we got given some free Doritos from some Dorito elves. How many Doritos I hear you cry?
LOOK WHO CAME: