Ben Goes To The Eurogamer Expo 2013 – Part 1
This year, Earl’s Court looked like an alternate future Reichstag, which, given the Wolfenstein banners draped over the front of the building, I can only assume was the intended effect. Thankfully, the interior of the building was slightly less oppressive. Any expo feels like a funhouse of shambling corporate presences, but perhaps the Eurogamer Expo is the one that retains most of its humanity. That’s likely down to the people running it, and the people housed in those booths, who seemed to have a constant, unwavering smile. Rather impressive actually.
Being there for the opening of the doors, I gravitated towards a game I thought would build up a decent queue by the end of the day, Batman: Arkham Origins. It’s doubtless more of the same, but everything feels a little snappier, and a little less drowned in muscle enhancers, if the character models in the demo are anything to go by. What I played was certainly enjoyable though, with that freeflow combat proving just as entertaining 2 years after Arkham City added its extra wrinkles. There’s a little more potential for Adam West-esque hilarity, however, with a grapple gun that can pull two enemies together. All it was missing was the comedy sound effect. I also had a chance to look at the Vita game, subtitled Blackgate. It’s an odd beast, part 2D platforming challenge, but with the full 3D freeflow combat mixed in, in a manner of speaking. The action still moves on a 2D plane, but Batman doesn’t during combat, moving in and out of the background as he counters and attacks with all the same ferocity found in the console game. It’s a bit of a looker too, surprisingly running on the Bluepoint engine, the same tech that powered PS All Stars.
Moving on from that, I played the build of Tearaway that was on display. What a delight. Every little touch in the game’s world had me smiling, and I didn’t even unlock jumping until the final quarter of the demo. There’s some suitably challenging platforming, the combat is dodge and throw based, and the papercraft aesthetic is downright astounding at times. Mention has to be made of the way the game uses the Vita’s front facing camera, and puts the player’s face in the sun. Although, with the Vita’s offset camera, it was more akin to my right eye being deified.
Straight afterwards, I made my way over to Futurlab, to check out Velocity 2X. While the ship based portion of the game is still that same Velocity goodness, the on foot action is a whole different beast. True to Velocity though, it’s fast, fun, and above all it demands precision. Sliding down pathways and teleporting through walls was extremely satisfying, even at this early state. It’s definitely a winner, and apparently the build I played was pre-alpha, without the final art in some cases. Either way, it already looked wonderful, with smooth expressive animation.
Then came Hohokum. Hohokum was like a constant for me during the show, always there when I needed to lose myself in utter bliss. There was something with the game that clicked rather well with me, and I found myself with a small gathering of booth attendants and expo attendees, as they realised that the game had goals to complete, alongside multiple levels. I played it on PS4, with that lovely new controller, and it controlled smoothly. The art looked spectacular in 1080p too. After Hohokum, I got a glimpse at what’s next from Honeyslug, in Super Exploding Zoo. There’s a full preview to arrive shortly, but what I played was a hilariously macabre take on tower defence. More on that soon.
As I wondered the halls following my appointment, a man came up to me, and asked ‘Would you like to play The Stanley Parable?’. I don’t think I’ve ever appeared so enthusiastic in all my life, practically shouting ‘oh my god yes’, like a child surprised at a birthday party. I can’t say anything about the demo itself, but I can say that I saw it, and that it’s a demo for The Stanley Parable. Odd thing to be surprised by at a show, but there you go. Life’s full of little surprises.
After a brief period of wandering the halls like a entertainment ronin, I found myself back in the PS4 area. So, I played Driveclub and Knack. Driveclub is what would happen if Project Gotham decided to make kissy faces at Burnout Paradise’s multiplayer, and the driving felt fantastic. The periodic challenges helped to break up the race into enjoyable segments, and definitely fostered a competitive spirit in me. I don’t think I’ve ever been that eager to out-drift somebody in my life. Even Knack fared better than was to be expected, managing to occasionally overcome its standard platformer-come-beat-em-up formula with a curiously hidden mechanic in which you build new tools to aid with gameplay. Amusingly, every PS4 playing Knack was signed in as Mark Cerny. It feels like a natural progression from those older platformers, but with enough new tricks to sustain itself for the duration of the demo. Whether it manages to for an entire game is a different question entirely, but I have hopes that it will.
Octodad is quite frankly ludicrous. While the controls take a little getting used to, once you get a handle on them it’s an experience filled with player driven hilarity. Putting on a bow tie has never been this daft, and walking down the aisle has never been this haphazard. Bonus points here go to the Sony booth staff, who were playing it and loving it when I approached the demo station. They couldn’t get enough of it!
And finally, Resogun. Goodness me, Resogun. Ludicrous amounts of particles fill the screen in a voxel cacophony, and enemy ships surround you from each side of your ring based arena. So, you shoot your way out, and you dodge everything that’s coming at you. I would say that it’s a must by at the console’s launch, but you’ll be getting it when you use PS+ on your PS4, you lucky things you. It’d be worth your cash any day.
And that’s my first day, come back in a few days for my impressions of Sunday. I’m aiming to play Ratchet And Clank: Nexus, Rain, and to wonder why on earth Square-Enix’s demo of the Final Fantasy X HD Remaster on the show floor is the opening of the game, rather than an interesting segment.
Oh, and I’ll play more Hohokum. Gotta get those pine cones.