Expo-nentially More Excited


Earlier this month I attended the EB Games Expo in Sydney, having attended last year’s event on the Gold Coast as well. I got the chance to play and view a handful of interesting games and such and this was what I thought of them.

Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royale
The first game I played at the show, “the Playstation version of Super Smash Bros” made a good impression on some of my friends but my limited time with the game left me unconvinced. I only got one match as Parappa the Rapper, who plays as a melee character with some rapid lateral movement worked into a lot of his attacks. I’m keen to play the full game next month and really put the “super meter” system to the test.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
I saw an in-depth, over-the-shoulder demo of this Platinum Games gem, which combined an amusing arcade-style menu with amusing arcade-style violence (“Hey, that looks like a piece of cartoon meat you just made from -oh, you ripped out his spine? Alright then”). The demo made liberal use of the new multi-angled cutting system used by the game’s cyborg hero, Raiden, forcing the player to think about when and how they use it. Looks awesome.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown
During my brief time with the Xbox 360 demo of the turn-based strategy game, I was mightily impressed by its depth. Since the Expo the actual game has been released but I just don’t have time for such a time-sink of a game right now. I’m keen to pick it up in the lazy months of next year.

Tomb Raider
I saw Tomb Raider through both an over-the-shoulder demo and an extended showcase at one of the Expo’s Arena sessions. It looks incredible. I couldn’t stop gazing at the foliage in the first demo and the lighting effects in the second. There does seem to be a real sense of progression for Lara Croft as a character, comparing early demo footage with the stuff at the Expo, which is awesome. I’ll be there with bells on for the March 5th release next year.

South Park: The Stick of Truth
Speaking of March 5th, I’ll be picking this up without question on the same day. Having a behind-the-curtain demo that I hadn’t seen before at the Expo was one of the show’s biggest surprises for me. Said demo was consistently hilarious, packed with references to early SP episodes (which are my favourites), and the JRPG-style battles look quite varied. The impressive engine is arguably the game’s coolest feature, though. It looks EXACTLY like an episode of the show.

Tokyo Jungle
A friend and I dived straight into a co-op session of this quirky post-apocalyptic animal survival game. He picked a carnivore and I didn’t. What a mistake. I died rather quickly, which was a good showcase for the game’s unforgiving atmosphere. I actually really liked it. The game is live on the Playstation Network and I have now purchased it. It’s one hell of a file size, though, and I’ll need to find a better way to download it than what I currently have available.

Hitman Absolution
I haven’t played too much of the Hitman series, but I know plenty of people who have, and Absolution looks like it will cater to fans of the franchise and then some. The Arena demo provided one of the funniest (and creepiest) moments of the Expo when it showed a mission during which you dress up as a derpy chipmunk to blend in before making a brutal assassination.

Assassin’s Creed 3
Ubisoft is supremely confident in their latest AC chapter and it looks like they have every reason to be. They showed no less than four distinct demos at the show, ranging from American wilderness action to naval carnage, all of which looked gorgeous and seemed to offer a lot of breathing room for players. Regardless of my very limited experience with the series, I will be picking up Assassin’s Creed 3.

Paper Mario: Sticker Star
The demo at the show for my most anticipated 3DS game ever wasn’t much of a demo. It was closer to a version of the full game, right down to having to watch the opening cutscenes. As such I didn’t get much time with the new battle system, but I did see enough funny dialogue to know that Intelligent Systems has a chance of getting it very right yet again. I want this game now.

The Wii U
Finally getting to hold the Wii U Gamepad was a surreal experience for me, much like it was when I held a Playstation Vita for the first time. Marketing images belie the amount of face space that isn’t taken up by the six-inch screen, but its resolution is very impressive – much closer to that of a Vita than to a 3DSXL. The pad is very comfortable to hold thanks to a light weight and a contoured back. The control sticks on both it and on Nintendo’s new “Pro Controller” feel top-quality, even if the triggers are “clickier” than I expected. I had much less of an issue with both control sticks being placed at the top of the layout than I thought I would.

Nintendo Land
One of a handful of genuine surprises at the Expo, Nintendo Land was a blast. It’s frustrating how difficult it is to portray the kind of fun it was to play through text, because I had read about the game online quite exhaustively and still wasn’t prepared for the kind of experience I had. I tried two of the five-player games, Luigi’s Ghost Mansion and Animal Crossing: Sweet Day. I was one of the players on the TV in the former and I held the Gamepad for the latter. Pleasant surprises abounded. Now a definite day-one purchase.

Scribblenauts Unlimited
I played around with this one briefly while waiting for friends. The new object creation tool is surprisingly robust, as you can edit all sorts of things like size and positioning of parts, then the interactive properties of your creation. I made a tiny, hyper-flammable purple car with wheels where they shouldn’t be. The sky seems to be the limit, but having played the original Scribblenauts I doubt the gameplay levels themselves will offer enough variety to make this a must-buy for me.

New Super Mario Bros U
This game looks and plays just as hectic as the Wii version did when four players are on the screen, with the added troll potential of a fifth person on the Gamepad creating platforms via touch. The platforms are primarily designed to help others and they were used to mitigate my terrible platforming skills to good effect by one friend, but another simply used them to impede us, cutting our jumps short and blocking off star coins. Which arguably made the game more fun.

Rayman Legends
Blew Mario out of the water and ended up as my personal game of the show. The demo crammed a veritable heap of clever ideas into just a couple of levels. It has now been delayed to next year, which makes me sad, because all the uses of the Gamepad that it showcased were novel in the best kind of way: they were integrated into the gameplay to the point of being essential. Who knew playing a side-scrolling platform level like a song on Guitar Hero could be so much fun?

Other Things
I didn’t play ZombiU because me and scary games don’t mix too well, but when I asked around about it the feedback I got was mostly very positive. The lines to play Halo 4 and Call of Duty: Black Ops II were atrocious, but I’ve already pre-ordered both and I know I’ll be playing them no matter what. One regret I had was that I didn’t get to try out Injustice: Gods Among Us, the new DC Comics-themed fighter from the makers of Mortal Kombat. Aliens: Colonial Marines was also generating a lot of good buzz but I didn’t feel like lining up for it. Overall I enjoyed the Expo immensely and look forward to next year’s event.

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