Hey internet world, Derek here, sorry I have been AFK for so long but I promise that I have a legitimate excuse. I moved from the splendid east coast of the U.S. to this distant land named England for graduate school. I’m currently in the process of getting my master’s in creative writing. Weird right?
Trust me when I tell you I haven’t been completely detached from gaming though. On September 29, 2013 I had the opportunity to venture to London from my campus in Plymouth to explore the glorious expanse of hardware and software known as Eurogamer Expo (EGX London is what it will be called starting next year). While there, I was able to get my hands on several games and consoles, all of which I will tell you about in this very article.
I’ve decided that it would be cool to bring you on a chronological trail of my day so, the products I am going to talk about are in the order I used them. When I first arrived at Eurogamer I was immediately blown away by the size of the venue. This was my first convention so, I had yet to experience such a magical land of gaming. Right when I walked in I bee-lined straight to the Nintendo area. The first game I played was Pokemon X. Unfortunately this is out already so there is no need for me to give my impressions. Next up on my venture through Nintendo land (get it?) I played Mario Kart 8.I played a quick three lap race with one of the Nintendo staff members. He showed me a few spots where I could really use the new features of the game. First off I’d like to say how great the game looks on the Wii U. The HD graphics really improve the quality of the gaming experience. The big addition though are the anti-gravity karts which were extremely fun and added a new dynamic to the race. Though a lot of people seem to think this feature is a bit on the gimmicky side, I am going to have to disagree. There were only a few spots on the course we played where the anti-gravity was useful and that was for shortcuts. If the entire course were filled with wall riding and looping around elaborate spirals, sure, I can see why people would call out “gimmick” and yes, I am sure those tracks will exist but, on this track that I tried out it was not thrown in your face and I found it very enjoyable.
The next stop of my day was to try out the new Zelda handheld game A Link Between Worlds which for some reason I didn’t take a picture of. This is another game where one of the new abilities is being picketed for gimmickry and again, I am going to have to say I didn’t find it to be so. Turning into wall graffiti adds a new layer to possible puzzles and gives new options for hidden items. The controls of the game were simple and easy to learn which I found useful since the demo was on a timer. But, besides the game’s mechanics, one of my favorite parts of the demo was the beautiful coloring of the world, it jumped out at you from the screen, and not because it was on the 3DS.
Being a big fan of the Fable series, the next game I waited in line for was the re-release dubbed Fable Anniversary.
Waiting in the queue for as long as I did was the biggest mistake I made during EGX. After about 45 minutes I was finally able to see what the remastering had to offer. The answer to my disappointment was very little. I found the game to be unnecessarily laggy and unresponsive. Controlling the character was so ridiculous in fact that I refused to finish the demo. The gameplay looked slightly improved and the little combat I had was okay, but, as far as demos go, I’d hardly call what I played one. The only redeeming factor of the wait was that a few people complimented and took pictures of my Pac-Man bowtie.
Anyways, after being highly discouraged I watched a few Xbox reps show off Zoo Tycoon on the Xbox One. The game looks quite entertaining and makes great use of the Kinect. You are able to build encloses, select the animals you want to put in them, place entertainment areas, etc. the normal stuff for any tycoon game. My favorite part of their demo was that you are able to use the Kinect to feed your animals and eye level. It gives a great perspective and though I can see it getting boring fast it was still fun to see a giraffe eat a banana.
Next up was The Sims 4.
Though I didn’t play much of the demo which I’m almost positive was just character creation, I can say that the graphical improvements along with more features are spectacular and make creating a sim even better than before.
For some reason I waited in line to play Gran Turismo 6. I have to admit that I am not the biggest or even close to the greatest racing game player (minus Mario Kart) but, the game looked absolutely stunning. I really just wanted to get my hands on an Xbox One. It didn’t disappoint. The controller was nothing special, it felt relatively similar to the Xbox 360’s but, the graphics just blew me away. I can’t really judge the game too much because I have only played a couple of the previous Gran Turismo games and I did so poorly that it was embarrassing. But, again, amazing graphical output from the Xbox One.
After that I chose to explore the merchandise booths for a bit followed by watch others play The Elder Scrolls Online. I was going to wait in line but, I was absolutely sick of lines at the moment and chose to just spy on other players. The game, much like Skyrim, has amazing graphics and seemed to handle like it as well.
Post Elder Scrolls stalking I got to try out the Oculus Rift.
I played the game Strike Suite Zero, a space combat title already available. It was ridiculously fun, probably because it was so different. For the longest time I’ve wanted something like the Oculus and now it exists and I can’t wait until I am rich enough to own one. I’ve never experienced a game like I had with the Oculus. The closest I had was with my Virtual Boy back when it first came out and before it magically disappeared from existence (if anyone has that I would like it back please). The second level of the convention center was deemed the 18+ area so, being more than old enough I went up to find it extremely crowded. This didn’t stop me from playing a couple games. Dying Light was the first I tried.
I am going to say this right now, it was the best zombie game I’ve ever played and it was only for 10 minutes. The graphics were incredible, the controls felt perfect, the difficulty was not insanely hard but not easy either. It was just a great experience. The game allows players to free run around a zombie wasteland, like parkour style, while blowing off zombie faces with guns or smashing their skulls to goop. How cool is that? Answer: very cool. I am definitely going to pick up this game on launch, it was probably the best game I played at Eurogamer which is saying a lot since I played Pokemon and I am the craziest Pokemon game fanatic I know.
I was then torn between trying Battlefield 4 or Assassin’s Creed 4. Because the line for Battlefield was double the size of AC, I chose pirates.
I was glad I did too because it gave me the chance to use a Playstation 4. The game itself didn’t seem to use the consoles full capabilities for the graphics were not as great as I was hoping for. With that aside, the game did make use of the touch pad on the controller. With a simple slide of the finger you could move around the map easily, as well as zoom in and out. This was sort of gimmicky though, forcing myself to use the touch pad instead of the joysticks. I chose to do a minimal amount of ship combat because well, I didn’t feel like it, I wanted to see what Mr. Kenway was made of. The combat was what I expected though seemed to flow slightly better than previous games, something they have always seemed to do with each new game. It’s definitely going to be an expected addition with near identical controls and only little improved graphics.
I think one of the best parts of the day was the seemingly endless amounts of street passes I got on my 3DS. I met neer 300 unique miis. A helpful location where I spent a decent chunk of time near the end of the con was the Street Pass Zone. A small section filled with beanbags and 3DS charging stations.
I met some really chill people there and we had conversations about games we played and our opinions. It was a fantastic finale to my first convention.
Overall I am very excited about all the upcoming releases I got to play and even the ones I only saw for a few minutes. I am proud to finally say I have been to a con and now that I know how fun they truly are I cannot wait to go to another. The environment is like no other. To know everyone there is there for a similar reason and they all have a passion on par with yours is something everyone has to experience whether it be for gaming or something totally different, heck, it doesn’t even matter if it is in your home country.
On that note, how was your first convention? Which was it? Let me hear your stories in the comments below!