As stated in today’s Penny Arcade, games events can be a virulent source of disease. However, they’re also supposed to be friendly, social events, so recoiling from any contact with your fellow attendees, covering your face with a wet cloth whenever they threaten to breathe on you, might be considered rude.
How to stay healthy, while not being outright insulting? Simple, cosplay one of these three game characters:
1. Zombie in FEMA fictional analogue for FEMA environment suit, from Left 4 Dead 2
These popular nuisances from Valve’s second multiplayer zombie shooter have the advantage of combining all-over protection – what keeps germs out more effectively than a government issue envirosuit? – with being a very lazy costume to assemble. Simply slap on some grey face paint, pull on the suit, and you’re ready to go.
Of course, not every aspect of this outfit is ideal. It’s probably immensely expensive and difficult to buy this kind of suit, and if you do, expect to answer lots of questions from local law enforcement about exactly why you feel the need to protect yourself against chemical weapons in a suburban area.
Also, it looks a bit sweaty in there. Expect to boil in the bag if the aircon fails again.
2. Hunk, from Resident Evil 2 and numerous spin-offs.
A fan favourite. If Boba Fett proved nothing else, it’s that nothing provides a greater identification figure for the hardcore fanbase than a masked man with no visible personality who seems to have nothing to say in any given social situation.
Anyway, Hunk is your everyday gas masked special forces dude, and as such is interchangeable with all manner of other games protagonists and baddies. Expect to be mistaken for a Helghast, someone from Modern Warfare, a SWAT guy… OK, it may be a bit generic. In fact, you wouldn’t be that different from…
3. Artyom, or pretty much anyone else in Metro 2033.
A newy, and not too dissimilar from the Hunk mercenary type character above, but the various tunnel-dwellers from the far future of oh-shit-I’ll-probably-live-long-enough-to-see-this-shit-for-real have a couple of advantages as cosplay templates.
For a start, as it’s twenty years after the apocalypse, there’s no need to worry that your second hand army surplus duds are going to embarrass you. Whereas Hunk and his ilk always have military standard, spotless black gear, these guys make-do-and-mend, so you needn’t worry about how mismatched all the army surplus you bought for cheap looks. Wear and tear is authentic, in this case.
Also, and this is what puts this outfit above the rest, is that most of those other mercs wear their gas masks all the time, whereas a key game mechanism in Metro is the need to take your gas mask on and off depending where you are.
So, in this gear there’s no need to choke away beneath a mask for the entire con. Simply sling it around your belt, enjoy the show floor and, whenever you see someone particularly sniffly heading your way, make a big show of shouting about a gas attack in a Russian accent while putting the mask on. Job done, post-con-illness largely avoided.
Of course, none of these outfits will prevent the ill-effect of drinking your own bodyweight in overpriced alcohol in the hotel bar. But that’s another problem altogether.
It’s been a busy few days. After a brief trip up North, I’m back in London to get some important stuff done: to collect my accumulated comics from Gosh! (which means I’ve just had the delayed horror of Philip Tan’s art on his second issue of Batman and Robin, a week or so after everyone else has recovered from the trauma); to discuss how to overhaul Shiny Shelf with webmeister Jon de Burgh Miller; and, most importantly of all, to attend this year’s Eurogamer Expo.
The photo here is of one of the queues for the Brink developer session. Pleasantly, bar the queue to get in first thing, this was the only major queue we encountered all day, with short lines for most of the games (lines made bearable by getting a chance to see the title you were waiting for in action). As a consumer show, the Expo was notable for it’s excellent crowd control, keeping attendees moving and making sure everyone got to see what they wanted to see with minimal misery. The venue was a good one, easy to navigate with good facilities, with a lot to see across all three floors.
Brink first. This ‘developer session’ from Splash Damage was more of a hands-off demo than any kind of insight into the development process, but was promising nonetheless. After Borderlands (which is likely to keep us occupied for months to come), myself and my associates are very open to co-operative shooters with RPG elements, and this seems another variation on that theme, but with some very neat little systems – flexible classes, missions you can pick and switch mid-session – and a (relatively) novel environment which can best be described as Bioshock‘s faded aquatic utopia translated into the clean futuristic palette of Crackdown. There are plenty of unanswered questions about Brink, and a lot of development time left in which to answer them, but I was cautiously impressed. Oh, and I have a lot of time for Paul Wedgwood’s admirable giggling every time he executed a kill.
The Brink session also yielded one of my two free t-shirts of the day (even though I don’t really wear t-shirts), the other being a prized Left 4 Dead 2 shirt. L4D2 was probably the longest wait we had for a hands-on game, but was well worth it, eight consoles running a single game of Versus in the new Scavenge mode, where survivors need to keep gathering resources while the special infected try to stop them. Although I got murdered – I’ve never been hot on Versus, and couldn’t be bothered to go into options and invert the Y-axis so I kept looking in the wrong direction – the sequel is a lot of fun to play, and the innovations are well worth it being a new title. The Louisiana atmosphere is palpable, the production values as good as ever, and the new Specials are suitably game-changing. Favourite so far – the Jockey, who jumps on survivors backs and squeals a lot. L4D2 looks like building on it’s predecessor, and as that was pretty much the funnest thing ever…
Well, I didn’t get time with Assassin’s Creed 2, as attendees were getting quite long sessions with it (all hand held by vigilant Ubihandlers, who were explaining the control system in great detail), but it looked pretty good, although sadly everyone playing was busy fighting and stabbing rather than doing what I’m looking forward to, which is running and jumping across the rooftops of renaissance Italy.
The Saboteur seemed like a solid third-person actioner with the slightly clunky controls we’ve come to expect from GTA. The black and white aesthetic looks nice, but the section that was playable seemed pretty linear. I’m a little dubious about the constant World War II exploitation in games, but I did like lead character Sean Devlin’s habit of shouting ‘shite!’ whenever the player fucks up. One to watch, possibly – could be great if it delivers a fairly open WWII experience, could be not if you’re corralled down a set path.
Dark Void was one that most of us were keen to play, and while I had Y-axis issues again, its combination of Resident Evil 4 style third-person gunplay, rocket pack flight and vertical hop climbing (where you use your jetpack to hop and grab ledges, using them for cover on the way) feels like a winner, with a bit of practice. There’s a lot going on in this, but it definitely has the Capcom magic touch.
After playing an on-the-ground section of Dark Void, I turned around and found Mr Barry Nugent from Geek Syndicate and (more relevantly) The Next Level behind me. Barry introduced me to his fellow Next Level host Amaechi, but sadly I didn’t see the guys again all day. Good to see them though, and their ‘cast is highly recommended.
Pushed in all our faces whether we liked it or not was Avatar, the game of the James Cameron film. While the 3-D display was impressive, the number of demopods for this bloody thing was way, way out of proportion for the level of interest. It’ll be interesting to see whether this marketing onslaught has an effect. From a distance, it looked a lot like a generic space shooter, but there could be a good game in there, I suppose? It’ll take a lot to get me past my Cameron aversion, though.
OK, some other quick impressions before I wrap up: Bayonetta is as completely bonkers as you’d expect; Saw: The Videogame is equally what you’d expect, i.e. a clunky Silent Hill clone; Wheelspin on the Wii is graphically crude but could provide some multiplayer fun if you’re up for a straightforward racer on that console; Heavy Rain looks like a rather ponderous movie that forces you to play ‘Simon Says’ throughout; and God of War III is more of the flashy, spectacular same, but if they continue to use those QTE finishes they can sod right off.
The Eurogamer Expo is a great idea, well executed by the team behind the show, and I hope it continues on an annual basis. It’s a fun, inexpensive afternoon and a great chance to get some hands on time with forthcoming titles. Well worth attending.