I was briefly competent

I thought I would never be good enough to get all the X-Box Live achievements in a single game, and get a badge for total completion on my Achievement Progress screen. But a month or so back, I managed it, getting every achievement in Borderlands and the Doctor Ned expansion:

I achieved something, briefly.

Of course, then the General Knoxx expansion came out, added a shitload more achievements to the game’s tally, and buggered the whole thing up. But it was nice to feel like I was quite hardcore – albeit briefly.

Mark

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April 6, 2010. Tags: , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Avoiding the PAX pox

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

one size fits allThese 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 airconĀ  fails again.

2. Hunk, from Resident Evil 2 and numerous spin-offs.

Hunky monkeyA 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.

Odd that.

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.

Hey, I know you! I'd recognise that cracked lens anywhere. 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.

Mark

March 26, 2010. Tags: , , , , , . Uncategorized. Comments off.

Story Gamer

OK, one of the things I’ve been working away at recently (as opposed to bothering to write this blog) has come to fruition:

I’ve joined Game People, a group of writers taking different, offbeat approaches to games reviewing. There are haiku game reviews, reviews from a family perspective, and most famously Rebecca Mayes’ song reviews, as seen on Charlie Brooker’s Gameswipe last year.

Luckily for the world’s ears, I won’t be singing.

Instead I’m doing Story Gamer, reviewing games from my perspective as a fiction writer, talking about the conscious narratives in games as well as the stories that emerge through playing. It should be fun, and scratch the games-writing itch with more editorial discipline and focus than the epic, unstructured screeds about Fallout 3 I allowed myself here.

Unfortunately, the format of the site requires a profile photo, featuring my many chins. The wife kindly took a few shots last Sunday, with me posing in front of various bookshelves (story gamer, see?). One of the outtakes is my profile photo here, but the one that fit the narrow space properly was posed in front of a load of Doctor Who books. In a rather half-hearted attempt to make it look a bit more varied, I shoved a couple of other books (including one of my own, for sheer narcissism’s sake) and the Ace Attorney games on there as well:

Thrilling stuff.

Marinating myself in my own personal cliches, my first review is of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, a game that has an almost entirely unwarranted status as a sacred text in my poor deluded eyes.

I’ve got a lot more of that kind of thing coming, including games which have no zombies in them whatsoever.

Thanks to Game People editor-king Paul Govan for inviting me to join. This is going to be fun.

Mark

January 26, 2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Comments off.

Crippled Head

To recap, for Christmas I got Assassin’s Creed II and the Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition for the 360. The former is one of this Christmas’ big releases, an epic entirely new to me. The latter is a game I’ve already played through on the PS3, albeit without the option of all the extra bits bundled in the GOTY version.

So, which has swallowed up hours of my time over the last three days, the shiny new game or the one I’d already played through once?

No contest.

Fallout 3 remains a bewitching timesink of monumental, terrifying, addictive and occasionally tear-inducingly frustrating proportions. Once more I find myself in the early hours of the morning, stuck dungeon-crawling through a dismal sewer filled with radioactive zombies and horrible mutant crab things, and after another hour of deaths and reloads and running out of health items, I find I’m in the wrong bloody tunnel to cut under the ruins and get to my destination.

So I have to stab my way back out, escape with my life and two bullets left, go to a trader, trade my booty for more health items and ammo, patch myself up, head back out and enter a completely different bleak tunnel for another depressing near-death trudge through waves of remorseless enemies.

Or, you can do as I did – go back to the person who sent you there, lie about having reached your destination, and if your Speech stats are suitably high you get away with it, reaping the mission XP along with a dose of bad karma for being such a lying two-faced bastard.

It’s that flexibility that makes Fallout 3 an easy game to love for me – that you can cheat at missions, or just ignore them. That you can, should you wish (and one bold Eurogamer writer did just that), go around shooting everyone in the face, including all the plot relevant characters. It’s a big RPG playground, where, within certain mechanical confines, you can do what you want with the toys available.


And what a playground. The Capitol Wasteland, comprising the ruins of Washington DC and the desolate wastes that surround it, is far from a proper open world – those sewers and metro stations are necessary to carry you beneath the impassible barricades of rubble that divide the city into discreet areas, and although the wastes outside the city are largely open, doors and gates create a break as you enter towns and communities – but the geography works enough to give you the illusion of a large, persistent world, even if you can’t do a Grand Theft Auto and fly over the whole thing in a helicopter. The whole game has a strong sense of place, diverse but coherent.

It’s all variations on a theme, that of the western world torn down and ruined, the modern city aged, weathered and neglected. Communities are built from scrap metal, tourist attractions are infested with monsters, tower blocks become fortresses. Sometimes, a view will be just a view – look out from the top of Rivet City, and on one side of the river there’s a vista of ruined, smoking buildings that can never be reached in-games – while others, delightfully, can be reached and scaled, as in one notable mission that takes you to a very high place.

It all adds up to a wonderful series of discoveries, of virtual tourism, albeit of a kind where the most beautifully ruined spots are likely to be those where Super Mutants run around pumping lead from a mini-gun, or just trying to decapitate you with a sledgehammer, resulting in a rapid retreat, firing wildly while your action points recharge before letting off a series of precision shots. Super Mutant has crippled head. Get in.

It’s not for everyone. The central narrative is, a couple of classy set-pieces aside, just a breadcrumb trail to lead you through the main locations in order. Writing and acting are solid, but also vaguely irritating, from Liam Neeson doing his usual ‘any acting style, as long as it’s stoic’ mentor routine through to the interchangeable potato heads of the characters. The combination of VATS (an action-points based targeting system of the kind used in RPGs) and slightly clunky free shooting can seem indecisive, downright frustrating if you want to be nailing your targets entirely manually.

Where it excels is in that sense of place, and your isolated journey within it. For all the chatty, twatty characters in their little outposts, Fallout 3 is predominantly about your player character and their journey through a remorseless, beautiful landscape, discovering new things and surviving against the odds. It’s modern Washington thrown through nuclear hell and transformed into an SF vision of the wild west, where a man survives by his wits (and a wide variety of exotic weaponry) alone.

Some find this lone, long adventuring too depressing, too lonely, or just too boring, but personally Fallout 3 represents a lot of what I look for in games – the chance to really explore an imaginary place that has enough elements of the real world to be relatable. It’s what I like about Bioshock and Resident Evil: Nemesis, two other titles that draw me back again and again as much for the atmosphere and sense of location as for any game mechanic. They’re places I like to visit, to stand on their street corners and enjoy their background music and ambient sound effects.

It’s the atmosphere that brings me back, that creates both the oppressive, claustrophobic dread you feel when playing alone in the early hours, stuck in some wretched hole where howling monsters come screaming out of the dark at you, but also creates the satisfaction when you come out the other side, victorious.

My last playthrough of Fallout 3 left me with a desire to go back, explore a little more thoroughly, neglect the main storyline and, most of all, cut loose and be a bit more of an asshole (I was quite the goody-two-shoes last time). So far I’ve been coasting through on neutral, mixing nice gestures with the occasional bit of meaningless dickery.

Tonight, however, is the big one. Having started off in the small town of Megaton as usual, I’ve now gained contacts in Rivet City and elsewhere, so I have other places to go for meds and supplies. I’m determined to complete the Wasteland Survival Guide quest, and that has taken me to lots more stupid places, but also resulted in the painful crawls I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Well, once the quest is done, payback will be mine. The least I can do is plug the widget that nice gangster man gave me into the unexploded nuclear bomb at the centre of town, and leave the residents something to remember me by, albeit for half a second.

What can I say. It’s a very good game. That doesn’t mean I have to be very good while playing it.

Mark

December 29, 2009. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Comments off.

A Child Is Born…

… twice, in this case.

Today I got Assassin’s Creed II and Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition, and I played a bit of both. The former is entirely new to me, the latter I played through on PS3, but I’m now heading back to it on 360, with all the DLC chapters included in the GOTY version.

Anyway, while very different games, they do have one thing in common – you have an extended tutorial where you live through your character’s birth, and get to control them as a baby. Which is an odd thing to do in a game at all, but twice, back-to-back, on Christmas?

While Assassin’s Creed II just gets you to waggle the baby’s limbs as he fights for life and breath, then skips forward to you (well, Ezio de Whateverzi) as a young man jumping the rooftops (though not yet an armed assassin) but dulls the impact by having to work around all the near-future material with Desmond McGuffin, even if it kind of justifies such an extended time in Ezio’s youth with all the ‘bleeding effect’ malarkey.


Fallout 3 spends longer on your childhood, spreading your tutorial phase through babyhood (where you learn to move around, and pressing the talk button causes a burst of babyish burbling), to your tenth birthday party where you get a PIPboy and learn to shoot, then exams at sixteen before you reach age nineteen and the plot shunts you out into a larger adventure.

What’s fun with Fallout 3 is that, as well as letting you learn the interface ropes before you’re under serious threat, through various questions, items and tasks you shape your character’s attributes as they grow. It’s actually a rather droll summary of how games compact real life into simple decision trees, two decades of nature and nurture boiled down into half an hour of conversation trees and simple yes/no, on/off, interactions. I’m not sure it’s intentionally funny, though.

Although asking a gamer to work through their character’s childhood may seem like a big ask, it’s an interesting tactic for deepening the narrative and providing some novelty to what could be dry tutorials for what are, in both cases, atypical control schemes beyond the demands of your average FPS or platformer. It’s certainly more interesting than a straight tutorial or another run around Croft Manor, anyway.

Merry Christmas!

Mark

December 25, 2009. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Comments off.

Want want want….

Yes, it’s expensive, but I think I know what I want for my birthday…

This Bioshock 2 Special Edition!

Sad, I know, but I’m a sucker for both the art style and the orchestral soundtrack to Bioshock, so throwing in a design book as well as a CD was sure to grab me.

Of course, asking for someone to pre-order this for me as a gift raises the risk that, should the reviews come in and be universally dire, I won’t be able to do a panic cancellation… but I think that’s a risk I’m willing to take. The previews look good so far, for what it’s worth.

If nothing else, with single player and multi-player developed separately, at least one of those two should prove worthwhile…

Mark

December 20, 2009. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Comments off.

Tequila Nights

I’m a sucker for the steelbook, those metal cases you get special editions of DVDs and games in – so much nicer than the normal amaray cases and battered digipaks with the corners bent.

Wading through the pre-owned shelves in Gamestation this week (stock being cleared cheap, presumably to make space for a rush of post-Christmas trade-ins), I picked up a couple of older titles for the 360 in nice steelbook editions: John Woo presents Stranglehold and last year’s reboot of Prince of Persia.

They’re very different games. Stranglehold is a contemporary shooter and a sequel to Woo’s movie Hard Boiled, complete with Chow Yun Fat as the almost depressingly cool Tequila (pictured). PoP is as PoP does, but this time with a more fantastical revamp – it’s as if Ubisoft have channeled all the historical stuff into the Assassin’s Creed franchise (which, lest we forget, spun out of the early development process for a Prince title before mutating into a separate entity), allowing PoP to unshackle itself from even the vaguest hints of reality.

What the two have in common is a determination to help the gamer, to enable them to have fun. Both give you cool characters, and steadily introduce you to their various awesome abilities – Tequila has various slo-mo firing options and is so fluid in his movements he never walks when he can roll/slide/skid down a banister, while the Prince can do all the wall-running, jumping, and acrobatic sword play that we’ve come to expect from the post Sands of Time games. These characters are a pleasure to play, and often provide a stupid grin as you execute some daftly awesome move. If games are often about wish fulfillment, then these definitely deliver.

Also, these are games that actually seem to like the player and want you to enjoy the game. I’ve played plenty of perfectly good, professional games recently, like Assassin’s Creed and Dead Space that, while providing plenty to enjoy also feel that ‘difficulty curve’ means ‘let the player have it easy for a while, but then smack him doubly hard later on’. A rigid, narrative driven game like Dead Space can be knocked right off a cliff by a punishing set-piece, where you have no options to go elsewhere and massage your stats, or find an alternative route – I may find it in me to retry that battle in level 5 another dozen times in the hope of finishing that big regenerating bastard off, but at the moment I’m not inclined to.

Both Stranglehold and Prince of Persia provide challenge, but are also keen to help you enjoy yourself. After God knows how many attempts at one shoot-out in Stranglehold, the game asked me if I wanted to try again on an easier difficulty level – I did, and found myself making progress again, and having fun. As you can access any unlocked level later, at every difficulty level, I can always go back and try again to beat it at the higher level if I want to prove my hardcore credentials – for now, the important thing is that I haven’t thrown the controller aside and stuck the game back on the shelf, never to be returned to.

Prince of Persia has a more all-encompassing mechanism – a companion character who will rescue you if you fall, and give you a boost if you take a beating in fights. Contrary to some opinions on release, this doesn’t make the game unchallenging – you still miss jumps and have to do them again, the difference is that you don’t have a three-minute wait to fail-and-restart before you get to have another try. The platforming is still full of fiddly stuff, but the tedious bit of retrying is circumvented by the safety mechanism – you’re swept back into the tide of play rather than being kicked out with the option to give up and do something else.

No doubt this kind of thing makes the hardcore weep, but for me these helpful mechanisms are great. I’m not adverse to grinding through difficult bits, and punishing boss battles, and whatever, but as I get older I have a limited tolerance for wasting my time with constant rinse-and-repeat restarts. Little incentives to keep going, to keep me progressing, are more likely to keep me playing than the challenge of a brick wall of difficulty because, to be frank, after ten attempts I’ll often have a good idea that a particular task is beyond the reach of my reflexes, and I’ll just give up.

Games are supposed to be fun, and while challenge is fun, for me at least relentlessly bashing myself against a brick wall difficulty spike isn’t.

Mark

December 19, 2009. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. Comments off.

Left4Ned

Been back from the North for a couple of days, but Borderlands has been pre-occupying me for the last couple of evenings. I’ve already completed the main campaign once, and on my second playthrough I’ve knocked a couple more achievements on the head, levelling my soldier up to 50 and getting a full set of backpack spaces from the claptraps.

Just at the point where I was playing the game without the pressure of points-grinding, the first DLC came along: The Zombie Island of Doctor Ned.

As the title says, this is Borderlands entering the not-exactly-deserted zombie shooter genre. There’s the ‘Thriller’ video aesthetic and the shambling masses of undead, but there’s also less cosmetic borrows from the sub-genre, especially Left4Dead – there are a couple of ‘hit a switch and fight off the horde pinch points’, and ‘special infected’ type creatures who vomit and so forth.

I’m kind of hoping that this goes beyond bandwagon jumping, and that future DLC will pastiche other genre tropes – what would a Borderlands version of Modern Warfare look like, for instance? Or a World War II pastiche, or a heavily vehicle based Grand Theft Auto parody?

And parody is what this is – infamously, the cel shading and cartoony humour of Borderlands came along quite late in production, and that shows in the finished product, with the wackiness dropping away after the opening sections and only intermittently reappearing, with the game’s roots as a more pious generic SF narrative showing, especially with that preachy voice-in-the-head girl wittering on.

Doctor Ned, however, has clearly been developed from day one with that vein of humour in mind: the missions are shot through with jokes and in-jokes, and the whole story is based on the premise of Doctor Zed from the main game wearing a false moustache and pretending to be his own twin brother. There’s also some fun with claptraps, the most distinctive element of the Borderlands world.

The Zombie Island of Doctor Ned is a fun add-on for Borderlands addicts, which adds a good-value new area to the game, and has the odd innovation to throw in. The zombies, which appear in greater numbers than most baddies in the main game, make a change from the usual enemies, and the horde attacks provide a frantic alternative to the attrition of the usual Borderlands boss-battles – rather than dodging and circle-strafing, you need to spin and fire off rounds at multiple opponents to hold back/thin out the crowds before they overpower you.

Although DLC like this does require an additional payout, these doses of additional content do freshen up the whole, as you can head off to the Island at any point over level 10, and as such it will provide a neat break in the narrative on any future playthroughs. I’m looking forward to future additions, and with my soldier now insanely over-powered (that turret can chew through most things easily, although it still can’t win me the final round in the West Commons Colosseum) I’m tempted to shift my attention to my level 18 Hunter.

Of course, I could probably do with playing some other games as well. But if Gearbox keep turning out content of this quality, I’ll likely be paying Pandora the occasional revisit for quite a while yet.

Mark

November 26, 2009. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Comments off.

What I did on my psychotic holidays

I’ve got to the point with my main Borderlands character (a soldier, levelled up to the mid 30s, incidentally) that I don’t really want to play him on my own – that late in the game, I want to have the fun of playing with friends, and the bad guys provide sufficient challenge that it’s a bit of a drag to play through solo anyhow.

So, as there’s an achievement for killing a certain number of enemies with each of the four character classes’ special ability (1 enemy in the case of the Siren, 15 enemies for the Soldier, Hunter and Berserker), I decided to go back and get the achievement for each.

The special ability kicks in with level 5, so to get the achievement for each class you just need to level up as quickly as possible from the start of the game, then run around using and recharging your ability ’til you’ve got enough kills with it. Easy enough.

Having done this for the Hunter, Siren and Berserker character classes in the last 48 hours, I thought I’d share a few tips in regards to hitting level 5 as quickly as possible, at least partially because I’m rarely good enough at a game to have any tips to impart, so I’m going to lord it when I do:

  • Obvious one first – follow the missions in order, completing them quickly and turning them in – biggest XP boosts are for mission completes.
  • There’s a fat dose of XP for reaching certain criteria in looting, selling and buying – so open everything, pick up everything you can, sell everything you don’t need, and never hesitate to buy something better, even if it’s only a marginal advantage.
  • Stick to the weapon your class specialises in if possible, and use critical hits and rapid chains of kills to maximise XP (usually headshots for humanoids, mouth shots for skags). Using the same classes of weapon all the time also quickly boosts you up the ‘number of kills using X types of weapon’ challenges, which also give out big doses of XP at certain tiers.
  • In terms of getting through the opening as quickly as possible, the claptrap will stop if you drop too far behind/get too far ahead. He won’t start the next bit of his schtick without you there, but once he does he’ll keep going even if you run off. So follow him closely, then when he starts faffing with a door control, run off and loot. Specifically, when the bandits jump over the gates at the very start, that’s a good time to dart off to the left, and open all the crates and safes around the outbuildings near the bus stop.
  • Of the three classes I’ve done in the last couple of days, you get the achievement quickest in this order: Siren, Hunter, Berserker. The Berserker takes longest as his special skill takes a long time to recharge, burns out fairly quickly, and involves a degree of precision to use – I didn’t get the achievement until after killing Nine Toes. The Siren only needs one kill with her special ability, and I managed to get her to level 5 and bag the achievement by the time the weapons store had opened.

Either way, it shouldn’t take more than an hour for each of these. Once you’ve got one of each class powered up to level 5, you’ll also have a feel for which class you prefer, and how you might play the game next. I’m quite in favour of the Hunter myself: mine is already up to the mid-teens in terms of levelling, and I think I’ll play through with him after finishing the main campaign with the Soldier.

Mark

November 10, 2009. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Comments off.

Been There, Got The T-Shirts

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

What else?

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.

Mark

November 1, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. Comments off.

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