Eurogamer Expo 2013 – Round Up

Expo Main

The Eurogamer Expo grows in size every year and 2013 is no different, with over 70,000 people attending over four days. That is a LOT of people, which also explains why I spent most of the day in queues rather than playing games.

That’s not to say it wasn’t still a blast but by choosing to queue for Titanfall and Battlefield 4 (about 2hrs of queuing between them) we gave up time we could’ve spent queuing for less busy games.

Anyway, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give Titanfall a shot – that and Quantum Break are the only two games of interest to me in the XBox One launch line up (although Titanfall doesn’t arrive until 2014).

So here is my round up of what I got hands on with at the Expo:

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Titanfall

First up was Titanfall, voted by most critics as the best thing at E3 2013. Even while we were queuing I was finding it hard to get overly excited – it’s just Call Of Duty with double jump and mechs. Right? Wrong. The game itself is great fun and it was easy to get straight into the action. Movement felt fluid and wall running was easy. I liked the heft of the weapons and the fact they seem to have taken a leaf out of Resistance‘s book with some of the weapon design. I see no reason this won’t come to PS4 further down the line, with the developer already mentioning that a PS4 version is ‘definitely not out of the question’ so I will be picking this up for sure then. But it’s not worth the price of an XBox One for me just to play this. * ‘TITANFALL’ : GREGHORRORSHOW’S MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE – Eurogamer Expo 2013*

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Battlefield 4

Next up was Battlefield 4 and as a big fan of the series I was looking forward to seeing what improvements had been made. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a pleasant experience. Battlefield has never been ‘pick up and play’ and I spent the first three or four minutes of the demo sorting out the sensitivity on the sticks etc. I don’t think having to stand so close to the screen and use an XBox pad did me any favours either but I didn’t enjoy the demo. Recoil on the guns felt insanely over the top, I shot a few guys three or four times without killing them and the map looked similar to some of the stuff on BF3. Of course it’s an alpha build and it was only one round so, recoil aside, it could’ve been bad luck. Nevertheless after queuing for so long this one left a bitter taste in my mouth.

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Killzone Shadow Fall

I’d played Shadow Fall previously but that was the single player component so I was excited to try the mutliplayer offering. Shadow Fall delivers a refined Killzone experience and I can see this being my go to shooter on the PS4. The weapons felt great and the game looked fantastic. At one stage I managed to get behind the enemies and brutal melee’d three of them in a row… the stuff of dreams 😆 It felt competitive and it seems there will be even more depth with the new class abilities. * ‘KILLZONE SHADOW FALL′ : GREGHORRORSHOW’S BEST IN SHOW – Eurogamer Expo 2013*

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Octodad: Dadliest Catch

Octodad is a wonderfully absurd game in which you control an octopus trying to maintain his life pretending to be a man. In this demo I was tasked with getting him ready for his wedding and making sure he gets down the aisle in one piece! Octodad’s legs aRE controlled with L2/R2 and the left stick. When you need to switch to his arms you press L1 and then you move the sticks to control his arms, with R1 picking things up. The tricky controls and crazy animation of Octodad make this a very fun game. Definitely recommended.

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Warframe

Warframe has had my interest since it was announced for PS4 as a free-to-play title. At the expo we were sampling co-op mode, which was a horde mode affair with three of us combining to protect an item in the middle of the map. The game is fast paced and moves smoothly – you can aim and shoot with L2/R2 with R1 bringing out your samurai sword for close encounters. L1 allows you to slide on your knees in the same style as Vanquish. I’m not sure how much more effective that was but it sure looked cool 🙂 You also have special abilities which are triggered by swiping the touchpad on the DualShock 4. We had no problem dispatching wave after wave of enemies and soon the demo was over. I had a couple of issues where it felt like the camera couldn’t actually keep up with the game but hopefully that will be ironed out by launch.

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Velocity 2x (Vita)

I enjoyed Velocity as a mini on my Vita and I have Velocity Ultra (courtesy of Playstation Plus) but haven’t fired it up yet. So when I saw Futurlab were back with another Velocity title I was hoping they’d mix things up a bit. And they certainly have. As well as the spaceship flying that made up the original title we will now be treated to some platforming goodness as well. The game looks and feels fantastic. It’s easy to control and has a really cool style. This looks set to be a masterpiece on Vita (and PS4) when it arrives next year.

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The Crew

Lastly I played The Crew, Ubisoft’s next gen racing offering, and while half the time I didn’t have a clue what was going on (not helped by the game randomly cutting to a title card in amongst everything) it was great fun. This is a more arcadey racer, with nitrous boosts and drifting the norm. We were given a few minutes to drive around before being entered into a race (individually – we were all in a different race in a different part of the gameworld) and then assigned a target car for the four of us playing to take out. Much crashing and hilarity ensued – if they can polish up the presentation angle of the game this could be a great addition to the racing genre.

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While I didn’t get to play them (as they were on PC and I’m not a PC gamer) I also watched people playing Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number and Volume – both of which will be coming to Vita next year. And both of which looked excellent. Hotline Miami 2 seems to be more of the same which is fine with me and Volume looks like a super interesting take on the stealth genre. Here’s a trailer for that:

So overall it was a good Expo, although the queues seemed to have doubled in size from last year. I suspect next year you might need two days to actually get round and see a decent amount of games. For the most part queuing wasn’t too bad – Titanfall had the nice idea of seating the next batch of people to play in front of a video about the game and Sony‘s booth had content on a big screen that didn’t loop for the entire hour we were queuing.

Did anyone else go this year? Would be good to hear what you played and what you thought of the Expo.

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Resistance: Burning Skies – Review (Vita)

As a fan of all of the PS3 games in the Resistance series I was looking forward to Burning Skies hitting the Vita. With it also being the platforms first dedicated FPS, excitement (as well as the pressure to deliver) was high.

Burning Skies tells the story of firefighter Tom Riley and is set between the events of Resistance 1 and 2. The Chimera invasion hits and Tom gets separated from his family. He has to find them and along the way gets tangled up in taking on the alien invading force.

Development here has been handled by Nihilistic as opposed to Insomniac, who handled the PS3 versions. They do a good job for the most part.

Graphically the game isn’t massively impressive. In general, and certainly in battle, Burning Skies looks fine. However you’ll notice a fair few jagged edges and lots of pixels during quiet moments which is a little disappointing but doesn’t distract during play.

The controls feel good – I tweaked down the sensitivity (as I always have the movement speed pretty slow) and I had no problems at all with aiming or shooting. The cover system was largely redundant in my opinion as I found myself crouching behind cover manually and just popping out when needed.

In true Resistance fashion this isn’t a game about accuracy – headshots don’t kill the Chimera with one shot, you’ll need to empty half a clip into enemies to take them down. I don’t have a problem with that (the Uncharted games are the same for the most part) but people looking for a Battlefield/Call Of Duty type experience will be disappointed.

It’s a fairly substantial game, I didn’t time it specifically but I would say the campaign was around 6/7 hours including retries. I died quite a lot but the checkpoint system was pretty well paced, although there were a few moments where the game sent you back an extra room or whatever and led to a long replay.

I certainly felt like I got my money’s worth from the campaign of Burning Skies but for me the most fun has come online.

This game caters for up to 8 players and has three game modes: Deathmatch (all v all), Team Deathmatch and Survival. Survival was most interesting to me – one or two of the players start as Chimera and the remaining players have to survive 5 minutes. If a Chimera kills a human then that human also becomes Chimera, until there are no humans left (or the 5 minutes is up).

I have had a few issues in terms of getting connected – but it’s just been a case of trying to connect until you do. Once I’ve been in a game I have never been dropped out or lost connection, which I think is really impressive.

I experienced no lag whatsoever, the online runs as smooth as the offline. The maps are well designed and the weapons are really well balanced. I have been having a blast with this online and it’s really shown me how great an FPS could be on the Vita.

Unfortunately that is the biggest compliment I can give Burning Skies, it truly shows the potential for FPS games on the Vita but doesn’t quite fulfil it. This would’ve got a 6 if it was just offline but the online did genuinely impress me, both in terms of stability and balance so I feel it’s well above average.

It’s certainly worth playing through, especially from the perspective of what other FPS’s could build on from this, but if you’re not a fan of Resistance and it’s brand of non-realistic shooting you may struggle to enjoy it. It’s the solid and enjoyable online that sees Burning Skies rise above average.

Rating: 8/10

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Resistance 3 – Review (PS3)

It seems a lot of people were disappointed with the second instalment of the Resistance franchise. Personally I felt it was an improvement on the first title and I was hopeful Resistance 3 would continue to improve the series.

This time around you’re playing as Joseph Capelli, who was a side character in the 2nd game, and the feeling of fighting the Chimera has all but gone.

The humans lost the war. Resistance 3 is about survival. Beaten down and living mainly underground, Capelli and his fellow survivors get on with life as best as possible. These are not just soldiers, there are children and non-fighters as well, just trying to get through each day.

To say the game is bleak would be an understatement and it is a huge plus point for Resistance 3 that helps differentiate it from other titles. You’re often told in games “you are the only band of survivors left” but here it really feels like it.

You’re outnumbered and underpowered for the most part but the game’s great controls and wonderful weapon selection make it joy to blast through the levels. There are small victories here and there but as a battle heats up you’ll likely find yourself running away to survive.

Insomniac have gone old skool with their health system, which doesn’t regenerate and will need to be replenished with health packs. This also adds to the tension of gun fights as you know hiding behind cover is a temporary relief, not a solution.

Unfortunately the campaign loses it’s way in the last few hours and the final battle/ending was a touch disappointing to me.

Online things have been scaled down (from 60 players to 16) but for me that is an improvement and the unusual, but brilliant, weapons available mean that Resistance 3 offers something completely different to other shooters on the market.

Sure it takes a lot of bullets to get a kill but this title isn’t going for a realistic feel. I found it to be very enjoyable online, although it seemed that matchmaking may be a bit of an issue: occasionally I was told there were no games available when selecting a specific mode but choosing ‘Quick Match’ found me a game straight away in the same mode I was searching for 😕

Make no mistake – despite tailing off towards the end, Resistance 3 has the best campaign I’ve played this year. Whether or not that will hold with the glut of great games coming remains to be seen. The multiplayer is fun and something different for those looking for a change.

Rating: 9/10

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E3 2011: Wrap Up

So E3 has been and gone for another year.

While there wasn’t much in the way of big surprises we got to see plenty of great stuff.

Here are my thoughts on this year’s games:

EA had a great press conference, showing off the expected big guns of Mass Effect 3, Battlefield 3 and FIFA 12. Mass Effect 3 looked great and having just wrapped up the second game I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Same goes for Battlefield 3 – the game looks stunning on PC and it will be interesting to see how close they can get the console versions.

FIFA 12 looks set to be improved greatly by a new physics engine, which essentially means the end of set animations for players. From here on out players will react naturally to where they are hit. If implemented corrected it could be a game changer.

I wasn’t that sure about Need For Speed: The Run which brings QTE’s to the franchise for moments your driver leaves the car. Could be cool if they feature it well – overuse it and it could be the kiss of death for the game. One of the few ‘unknowns’ of the show, Overstrike is the new game from Insomiac Games (makers of the Resistance series) and it looks like lots of fun. Certainly it doesn’t take itself too seriously – check out the trailer below.

Speaking of Insomiac Games, I thought Resistance 3 looked cool. Maybe not as polished as some of the other games but certainly a story I’m interested in seeing continue. DUST514 was another unknown property to me but seems like something different in the shooter market.

Of course Uncharted 3 looked superb and it’s getting to the stage now where I’m considering not watching any more footage for fear of ruining the game for myself! Twisted Metal impressed – while it’ll be a hard sell to the masses, in my opinion, I am definitely on board having loved the original back on the PSOne.

Ubisoft were showing off Assassin’s Creed: Relevations, the final chapter in the Ezio trilogy and while it looks like refinements rather than innovation, I’m cool with that. They also showed a trailer for a new Brothers In Arms title called Furious Four. I thought it looked great, as many others have said it has a touch of the Ingloroius Bastards about it. The only issue I had was the fact that Brothers In Arms games usually take the moral high ground and base themselves on real soldiers experience, so the branding here jars somewhat.

The new Driver title looked like it could be fun but the last few have been fairly poor so I’ll withhold judgement for now. Certainly it was a cool trailer. I also liked the look of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. It reminded me of SOCOM 4, which I enjoyed a lot, so that bodes well. Far Cry 3 returned with a bang, showing off an impressive trailer that really set the scene. Far Cry 2 didn’t grab me as much as I’d hoped so I have my fingers crossed for the third one.

Batman Arkham City had a reveal at the show, that Catwoman would be a playable character. A nice addition and we got to see some more footage of the game in action. It’s shaping up nicely and the open world setting looks amazing. Finally looks like XBox owners will get a slice of the Uncharted action with Tomb Raider, a reboot of the series that shows a more gritty version of Lara Croft finding her feet on a quest for adventure. From what they showed it looks great so I’m interested to check it out.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Bioshock Infinite were both known properties but the new footage shown has raised expectation even higher than before. Deus Ex hits later this year with Bioshock Infinite coming in 2012.

Modern Warfare 3 was also shown and, well, it’s Modern Warfare. No-one is likely to be disappointed with more of the same and it’s understandable with the walk outs the game studio had. I’ll enjoy the campaign and play some multiplayer as I do with each Call Of Duty. Surely this has to be the last outing for this game engine though?

Bethesda’s Skyrim looked stunning and if you like your games based in the olde worlde fantasy setting this will be one you’ll need to pick up. I was also glad to see X-COM make the jump from XBox exclusive to multi-format as I liked the look of that previously. With a 1950’s ‘Twilight Zone’ style setting it’s one to keep an eye on.

It’s been too long since we slipped on the gloves of Agent 47 and IO Interactive are looking to remedy that with Hitman: Absolution. A brief trailer was all that was shown but I can’t wait for this game. On the downloadable game front I thought Payday: The Heist looked like it could be absolutely superb. The idea of running through heists with friends online and it being different each time sounds like a lot of fun.

So there we go – one of the other big parts of E3 was the confirmation of the PS Vita handheld from Sony but I think that deserves it’s own entry so keep your eyes peeled for that sometime this week.

What were your thoughts on E3? Which games surprised you or increased your interest?

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