Live Event: EGX 2015
Eurogamer Expo is one of the largest exhibitions showcasing the latest video games. It gives members of the public an opportunity to get their hands on all manner of titles from small indie developers to the big AAA games. I’ve been going to EGX for the past few years but the main difference being that this year the venue was the NEC in Birmingham rather than Earls Court in London. Thousands of excited fans attended this years event and it just shows you how popular video games are in 2015.
First impressions of the new venue itself were how well everything was laid out. You had lots of room and didn’t feel particularly cramped despite there being massive attractions such as a huge TIE Fighter on display for the Star Wars Battlefront stand.
If you hate queues and people then EGX isn’t for you. In fact you were looking at a minimum of 2 hour queues for a chance to play the bigger titles. Another reason for the larger queues were that a lot of the demos lasted for 15 minutes, which is good because it gives you a decent impression of the game, but the downside is waiting to play took ages. I was very impressed with the amount of indie games on display and there really was something for everyone.
The difficulty with making judgements about the games you are playing is that you are usually sat within a foot of a large TV screen not knowing what you are doing. However, here are my impressions of the games I played on the show floor.
This was the first game we played due to my friends, Wayne and Pete, wanting a voucher for £5 off a limited edition t-shirt from Insert Coin Clothing. The other added incentive for playing was if we finished the mission with the quickest time, we would be entered into a draw to win a PS4. Unluckily for us we didn’t finish the strike, this is despite Pete being a self confessed Destiny addict. From what I’ve heard, The Taken King makes a lot of improvements on the original Destiny. From this brief play-through it was difficult to see the improvements however, if you love Destiny, I’m sure you’ll enjoy The Taken King.
We queued for 2 hours for the opportunity to get our hands on this eagerly awaited title from Electronic Arts. There were two demos to play with the first being a huge battle on the planet Hoth. We received a handy briefing explaining the objectives for the rebels and imperials. The rebels had to set up and defend checkpoints from attacking ATAT’s. If the Rebels successfully defended these checkpoints it enabled Y-Wings to carry out a bombing run temporarily making the ATAT’s vulnerable. It kind of reminded me of the mode Rush from Battlefield. As the game is made by DICE there will be lots of similarities to the Battlefield series. With this being Star Wars you have the opportunity to jump into a TIE Fighter, X-Wing, ATST, or Snow Speeder which adds a whole new element to the game. I managed to pilot a Snow Speeder and the controls worked very well indeed. You can also play in first person or third person which is also a nice addition. We had the opportunity to play a split screen horde mode where we took on wave after wave of increasingly difficult enemies. This mode was fairly bland and I can imagine the draw for fans will be the big battles involving vehicles. The game looked and played fantastically and I can imagine spending many hours shooting rebel scum.
Ninja Theory Hell Blade Development Session
The other great thing about EGX is the opportunity to attend development sessions or Q & A with various developers or key figures from the industry. Ninja Theory are a developer I’ve long admired with fantastic games such as Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, DmC: Devil May Cry and Heavenly Sword. Their new game, Hell Blade is another third person action adventure with the main difference being that the lead character, Senua, suffers from mental trauma. The makers of the game are clearly taking the subject of mental health seriously and are consulting with experts in the field to ensure they do justice to the character and game. The session can be viewed below and if you skip forward to 31.16 you’ll get to see me at the Q & A session.
This third person sandbox action adventure builds on the creative insanity of the second game in the series. Your objective is to overthrow an evil dictator using all the tools at your disposal with your new and improved grappling hook. Now you will be able to tether objects together to cause the maximum amount of mayhem. For example, tether soldiers together, attach them to a propane tank and bye bye soldiers. The game will also feature around 80 different vehicles from cars, planes, helicopters, motor cycles and boats. From what I played the game should be a lot of fun as most of the environments are completely destructible. My only concern is that it may become a big dull after blowing up the 700th building.
This first person shooter features an open world environment which is a change compared to the linear 2011 original. You will also be able to play in four player coop as you take on the occupying North Korean forces. The game reminded me of an urban Far Cry 4 with buildings and a war torn city taking the place of the Himalayas. The game boasts 4 player co-op and the ability to make modifications to your weapons without pausing the game. There was also a motorcycle which could be used to get around a bit quicker than on foot. It’s difficult for new FPS games to make an impact in an already over saturated market. Its very early days in the games development and there were lots of glitches and bugs but I’ll keep my eye on its progress.
This spiritual successor to Housemarques Dead Nation is just as enjoyable as the aforementioned game. The game will feature drop in coop and instead of taking on the hordes of undead you attempt to save the world from the scum of the universe. The game looked gorgeous and I’m sure it will be a lot of fun when its finally released.
I only had a few minutes to play Uncharted 2 and what can I say, its Uncharted. The game looks shinier and has a bit more polish but the Uncharted games always looked great anyway. Either way, the Uncharted games are some of the best third person action adventures ever made so owning a collection of all three games on one disc is a no brainer as far as I’m concerned.
This third person action game was first unveiled nearly 2 years ago and much like another Ubisoft title, Watch Dogs, the initial wow factor has worn off for some. We got some time to sample The Division and I’m intrigued by the final product. You work in a team of three and there appear to be safe zones and dark zones where you face off against AI enemies and also contend with other teams who may decide to work with you or fight against you and steal your loot. We were being walked through the demo by a representative from Ubisoft which tells you that this isn’t your standard shooter and there is some depth to the game. We were instructed to take out the AI enemies and then defend an extraction point from other human teams who were trying to stop us. The game has been described as a third person version of Destiny but its to early to make that kind of judgement. The game definitely interests me as there are more elements than your standard shooter. It looks really nice and plays very well from what we experienced. We’ll find out when the game is released in 2016.
This love letter to side scrolling beat-em ups from Makingames was one of my highlights from the show. It’s is a modern take on games like Streets of Rage, Final Fight, Double Dragon and features digitised graphics similar to Pit Fighter. You can upgrade your character as you play whilst unlocking new moves. I really enjoyed Raging Justice and encourage lovers of this genre to check it out.
I’m fairly sceptical when its comes to VR but that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in finding out more about it, especially how Sony will take this idea into the home market. Although the presentation was interesting I don’t feel like I was convinced by the idea of VR for anything other than a fancy tech demo. I feel like I was a bit conned by Kinect and motion controls in general wore thin after a while. There was some suggestion that as well as the VR headset you would need a PlayStation camera and two Move controllers for some experiences. With the VR headset itself rumoured to cost the same as a new console you can hopefully understand my scepticism. The talk can be viewed below.
We managed to get some time with this eagerly awaited prequel to Mirrors Edge which was released in 2008. Apart from the graphical improvements the gameplay appears to be pretty much the same as the original. The makers have said that there is more of an open world feel now and this was reflected by being able to open a map and select various objectives. I’m sure that fans of Mirrors Edge wont be disappointed.
I know a lot of people who are huge fans of this game when it was released on the Amiga. It passed me by so I have no real connection to the game however, I enjoyed what I played of this new release but I have a feeling that lovers of the original maybe disappointed. The game is a 2.5D hack and slash platformer. You can use your claws to climb walls and avoid obstacles such as spikes. The combat seemed fairly simple with quick/weak attacks and slow/heavy attacks. The game looked very nice but I feel like the makers are trading on the name and nostalgia factor.
As I’ve already said, I’m sceptical about virtual reality so I was keen to find out if this would convince me otherwise. There are a number of different VR headsets due to be released on the market but for this particular game we were using the HTC Vive device. My impressions of the device itself were that it was fairly comfortable and light weight but I can imagine that it may take some getting used to for prolonged playtime. We were also wearing earphones which meant that your senses were completely immersed in the game.
The game itself was a dungeon crawler in the style of Eye of the Beholder. You had a sword and could use magic to power up different abilities. Moving around was achieved through using a D-Pad on a controller. The right and left bumpers on the controller turned you around. We were standing up during the demo and the representative of Psytec Games was keen to let us know that he would catch us if it looked like we may fall over. I thought this sounded crazy until the game started. With the headset on I had full 360 vision of the environment. It was very strange turning my head to look around with part of my brain expecting to see the rest of the show floor and instead seeing the dungeon behind me. Moving around was extremely jarring at first and I physically stumbled whilst standing on the spot. After a few minutes I began to get used to the movement but I still needed to change my stance to steady myself. I also literally ducked at one point when a ghost came straight at me. The immersion felt fantastic with voices speaking to me in the headset as I was creeping around the dungeon filled with monsters and traps.
The demo lasted for 15 minutes and by the end I was moving very quickly and my brain became acclimatised to the VR environment. Although I didn’t get motion sickness like some others, I did feel strange at different times of the day. It’s hard to describe but it’s almost like my brain had been tricked somehow and took some time to get back to normality. I have to admit though that I was very impressed with the demo and I would recommend everyone try VR if you have a chance.
I was a huge fan of Rainbow Six Vegas, especially the terrorist hunt section of the game. This demo was team based and we had the opportunity to attack and defend. As the attacker we started with a remote controlled car carrying out reconnaissance of the area whilst spying on the defenders. We weren’t invisible of course so the car could be destroyed by the defenders. When we had planned our attack it was time to move on the building.
This game seems to be more tactical than other shooters on the market such as Call of Duty. You definitely had to work together with your team as there was no re-spawning and the game would end when all the team members were dead. As the defender you had various capabilities at your disposal such as being able to place barbed wire, board doors and windows slowing down the attackers. Much has been made of the destructible environments and this was the case in certain areas. I’m sure fans of Rainbow Six will be happy with the multiplayer tactical aspects of the game.
20 Years of Play – A Q & A with Shuhei Yoshida
I’m a big fan of Shuhei Yoshida. Whenever I see him on stage his passion for gaming and easy going nature always come across. It was a pleasure sitting a few feet away and listening to him recollect his experiences of working on the original PlayStation and becoming President of Sony’s Worldwide Studios for Sony Computer Entertainment. The show can be viewed below.
We managed to get our hands on the team death-match portion of this game. There are new wall running abilities and it seems to take aspects from Titanfall. I haven’t been a massive COD multiplayer fan since COD4 however; I did like Advanced Warfare so I’ll keep my eyes on this. My only concern is that there are lots of first person shooters on the market and COD maybe losing some of its appeal.
This PlayStation Vita game was one of my highlights of the show and really suits this handheld console. This is a rhythm action game with the notes coming towards you and you have to press the corresponding part of the D-Pad or buttons in time with the music. The game takes all the best parts of games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero and brings them to the Vita perfectly. I shall be picking this up when it is released.
This was another wonderful highlight from the indie section. The game has been described as a music game and rail shooter similar to Panzer Dragoon. You control a space ship and as you fly lines come towards you. The aim of the game is to fly into these lines which then control the music that is being played in the game. There are also sections where you target enemies and shoot them down which mixes up the gameplay. It’s a hard thing to describe but when you get a perfect line, the mixture of the controller vibrating and music pumping through the headset really was exhilarating. MadFellowsGames have created something really special and I look forward to seeing more in the future.
It’s sometimes the simplest games that are the best and gameplay rules over fancy graphics. Imagine an American Football field with an end-zone. The game can be played with four players and the aim of the game is to get a ball into the opposing teams end-zone. You use the analogue stick to control your triangle shaped ship. You can quick fire from your ship but this wont push the ball very fast or very far but if you hold down the fire button you create a harder shot. If you hold the button down even longer, you can create blocks which protect your goal. We had amazing fun playing this in four player and I can imagine it was be a fantastic couch experience.
We managed to play the multiplayer mode called Warzone which is a big battle mode featuring AI bots, vehicles, human players and emergent gameplay with objectives changing at a moments notice. The games graphics look excellent and certainly some of the best in the series. You now have the ability to use the left trigger to look down the sights of your weapon. There are also perks you can unlock depending on how many kills you get. Halo multiplayer has generally been excellent fun and I don’t see this being any different. The only worry is how badly broken The Master Chief Collection was at launch. 343 Studios have to make sure Halo 5 works without any problems or it could be disastrous for future Halo games.
I remember being blown away by the graphical style when this game was first unveiled. Its cartoon visuals really are impressive and I wasn’t disappointed when we managed to get our hands on it. The game can be played with 2 players and there appears to be a main hub world where you can walk around and decide what level to play. This is very reminiscent of some of the Mario games. The two levels we played were different in style with the first being a side scrolling shooter. Our characters were flying planes attacking a giant bird which shot eggs at us. The second was a train level where we were dodging enemies by jumping and shooting. There is no question that this game looks amazing and it reminded me of Super Nintendo and Megadrive games in terms of its different types of gameplay. It also reminded me of this era of gaming because it was extremely hard and we died very quickly indeed. This may put some people off but the visual style is really compelling.
Rock Band 4 was at EGX but it was Guitar Hero Live that caught our attention. Rock Band appears to have the same formula as previous versions in as much as there is a singer, guitar, bass and drums. Don’t get me wrong, Rock Band is incredibly good fun but it doesn’t look like much has changed. Guitar Hero Live mixes things up a bit first and foremost by changing the guitar controller. Instead of the normal style where there are different coloured buttons down the neck of the guitar, you now have 3 white buttons and 3 black buttons next to each other. Initially I thought this would be easier to play but its surprisingly difficult to get your head around the new set up. Once you start to figure things out though it works very well indeed.
The other new feature is that the background footage is full motion video rather than graphical representations of your band and the crowd. Your band and the audience will react to how well or badly you are playing. I was watching my friend play and the crowd were disappointed with his performance and his band mates were shouting at him to sort himself out. It’s likely that you will be concentrating on the notes coming towards you rather than the background however; I like this new take on the genre and I’ll be keeping my eye on its release.
This new “pro” controller was unveiled at E3 and the price point raised a few eyebrows. A £120 buys you a customisable Xbox One pad with interchangeable D-Pad, analogue sticks, adjustable triggers and 4 paddles which are at the rear of the controller. I had no interest in this but I’m glad I got to try it and I have to say I’m very impressed with its design and customisation. Saying all of that, if I was paying £120 for a new controller I would expect it to be amazing.
We tried this demo using the new controller and it worked very well indeed with the paddles at the rear of the controller changing the gears. Forza 6 is a very nice looking and the game and demo is available now.
Review by Chris (co-host of 60 Minutes With and The Same Coin).
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