Eurogamer Expo 2008. What a ride.

So yeah, as much as I talked about it (and wrote all the articles on it so far) on GameOnYou, I wanted to write a little about the Expo on here.

The transport was a bit of an issue. Turns out that both Myk and Dave were in at 2am the previous night, so of course they left late, and everything went to shit road-wise. First I was supposed to be waiting at my house, then getting as close to the A50 as I could, then it was getting into Derby at the bus station, and then it reverted back to the original plan of me waiting for them at my house.

Myk’s awesome driving skills (and no, I’m not just saying that because I think he’ll read this entry) managed to make up a bit of the time, and we literally got onto the platform just as the train arrived. We couldn’t have been more lucky if we wanted to. Dave’s kid brother tagged along as well, and I’m glad we didn’t grab his ticket – we would have paid extra compared to him managing to get a kids ticket.

The train ride was easy, and the Underground was pretty much Myk’s territory again, as I had no idea of how to get where, and we spent a good twenty minutes just trying to find the Old Truman Brewery, where the Expo was being held. When we got there, we went up, and had lunch. I ate what I packed, and Myk and Ash grabbed some food before we all split up.

Me, being the 360 lover that I am (we all know it, I’m just not as negative to the PS3 as most 360 fanboys), I went to the 360 section and played the games on my list. Tom Clancy’s HAWX was up first, and it’s probably going to be a rental for me. I can appreciate that it’s new, graphically a breed apart from it’s closest rival (Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation), and that there are a few new additions (Like for example, you pack countermeasure-chaff as standard, and the touted Intercept feature), but a flight game is a flight game. You can really only have one game/series from the genre in your collection, per generation. I can see this appealing to those that have played AC6, and thought the storyline was weak, and sounded like it was ripped from a Japanese RPG, as HAWX has a more western feel. It’s more gritty realism than war fantasy, which is Tom Clancy all over.

Mirror’s Edge was the next one. I ended up leaving the controller and restarting the level for the next person, as it was just too hard for me to grasp. It was the PS3 version, and the controller was not the issue. It was the controls not being explained in either a tutorial (something which they definitely had at the time) or a sheet of paper. The graphics were tight, and the free-running aspect was responsive and realistic in terms of physics (apart from the jumps. Faith and Chell have something in common, it seems). Just give me more time with that control set, and I’ll be fine.

The last game I played in that little stint was Super Hind. It was impressive for a PSP game, as it managed to allow piloting a helicopter (albeit without altitude controls; you’re kept a certain distance above the ground at all times) without some weird control scheme that meant you had to grow an extra digit between your index and thumb on each hand. The arcade-y feel definitely played into it’s hands, as I could see a large-screen version of this on the XBLA or PSN, which makes it great for a quick mission on a road trip, or during a lunch break. A surprise hit with me, but probably one that will be left  aside. Think of it as a spiritual successor to Super Thunder Blade, and you won’t go far wrong.

After a quick break and type-up, I pressed on. I didn’t write much for this stint, as I only played EndWar without having the feeling of ‘What is this game?’ and ‘How is this in an Expo for the public, it’s not even completed yet!’. There were a few PC games I tried, and I watched people play ResiEvil 5 (btw, a lot of people complained about the AI being dumb, but it was in alpha build anyway). But regardless, EndWar was worth that entire stint being fair-to-bad. You don’t even need to learn all the buttons. On the 360, it’s Right Trigger (to open the comm system), A (to give a quick move order to an unspecified point [aka anywhere that’s not an uplink]), and Y (special ability). On the PS3, that’s R2, Cross and Triangle respectively. Oh, and START on both to begin the game, and the right thumbstick to rotate the camera. The Voice recognition on it was so tight, it was unbelievable. It occasionally messed up ‘Unit 4′ with ‘Force Recon’, which is understandable since I hadn’t run the voice training program. Graphics are good, sound was excellent, and I won every time. With a small force, you can actually do tactics, unlike Zerg Rush in StarCraft, or mobbing in most RTS games.

Another quick break, and then it was time to hit my shooter fix. I was in the caffeine high, and I wanted to blow something up. First up was the Gears of War 2 section. Yes, it had an entire section devoted to it because the queue for it was going around the edge of the sections wooden ‘walls’. When I got in, it was game on. A single match of Annex, 4v4 around two tables, to 120, and what can I say? It’s more Gears, what more do you want? The graphics haven’t changed much, and the sound felt a bit empty to me (yet with other people, they said it was much more solid than the previous game. Maybe it was just my station), but there are a few new features. Meat Shield does what it says on the tin, and also keeps an enemy from respawning. You can move to the side after going down, to stay out of fire. It’s a good game, and it was still great to hear the “Yes!” after a chainsaw duel, or the shout of anguish when the body held shotgun lead, or their head ceased to exist on the shoulders.

Final game was Call of Duty: World at War, and if I had to recommend a pre-order, it would be this game (along with EndWar). Everything that was wrong with the previous title by IW (Aggravating spawn-deaths, Juggernaut etc) have been dealt with. The game has much more of a pace to it now, thanks to the WWII setting and guns, the Juggernaut has been toned down (as has Stopping Power), and the dogs are awesome. Send in the Hounds, alright. Even though it was only multiplayer, it’s a sign of things to come.

The only disappointment was the Dawn of War II stand. Or lack thereof. Just a massive Rhino Tank with the Blood Ravens insignia on it in the middle of the outside area. I also played Street Fighter IV, and got my ass kicked.

After that, we all packed up and went home. I got back just before 1am, and I hit the bed like a log. Didn’t move ’til 8 this morning.

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