Yesterday myself, and new (well he’s not quite new anymore) writer PJ got the opportunity to go the the trade day of this years Gadget Show Live!
We weren’t going to say no now…were we? The atmosphere was great, and because it was during a trade day, we didn’t really have to queue for anything, and it gave us the chance to take in most of what was on display in the various halls of the NEC. Many games were played, and below are a snippet of some of the titles we got our mits on. Look out for a video later in the week!
Portal 2 plays and looks just like I imagined…and I imagined it would play and look just like the original. A problem? No…no I don’t think so…
The demo I got to play today featured some of the puzzles from the single player portion of Portal 2. The levels the developers picked out feature the new ‘spring board’ which propels your character into the air! For one section I had to grab a companion cube in mid-air after using a spring board. You still have the trusty Portal gun which is used in the same way as the previous games. Also returning is the ever faithful Companion Cube, but no sign of cake yet…
As I was playing through the couple of levels on display, I found myself scratching my head…looking for ways to complete the task set upon me. It’s been a while since I finished the original and playing its sequel reminded me of how great a concept it is. With a promised longer campaign mode and a very interesting co-op campaign (which sadly wasn’t demonstrated today), I personally cannot wait to start thinking with portals again.
The highlight of the day had to be the chance to sit down and play the beta of Gears of War 3. Oh gosh, it’s rather good! (and for those eagle eyed folk, yep that’s The Gadget Show’s Jason Bradbury!)
If, like me, you’ve played a fair bit of the previous Gears titles you’ll feel right at home with this one. It plays just like its predecessors. Although in terms of gameplay it hasn’t changed much they have tinkered with a few details, not to mention added a few new features.
Say hello to smoke grenades for starters. Grenades…that explode with smoke…simple, yet effective.
Another new addition shown in the beta is the Digger Launcher. This one isn’t quite as simple. You fire a ‘digger’ (a small little critter) from this weapon which burrows underground and heads straight for your intended target, spraying up dirt as it goes. It then pops up and explodes, causing a fair bit of damage to those in its radius. Crazy? Yep, Effective? Very. Throughout my time spent on Gears 3 I only managed to use it once, but I’ll be looking out for it when I’m playing the open beta in a couple of weeks. It’s always good to have a new weapon which isn’t really like anything else you’ve used. It’s a grenade in a sense, only cooler.
The Sawned-Off shotgun makes an appearance in the beta too. Very similar to the shotgun from the previous games, this one instead has a broader spray of damage, although its range is shorter. I’ve got a funny feeling this will become a popular choice as a secondary weapon (see the a few couple of paragraphs down) during multiplayer matches. Gears 2 suffered with an overly powerful shotgun, and I hope this new shotgun gets the balance right.
Remember how pressing the left button showed you a hazy glimpse of where your team mates were? Pressing that same button now shows your team mates clearly, making the environment look a little translucent. It also displays nearby weapons that are on the ground.
When you’ve ‘downed’ an enemy, once again you can choose to run up to your victim and ‘execute‘ them. Gears 3 introduces new executions based on what weapon your currently holding. You can unlock more executions the more you use that particular weapon.
For me, the biggest changes weren’t really when you were in the actual match. When setting up an online or offline multiplayer match your now presented with a much more polished menu system. Once you’ve got all your players and have chosen your map you’ll then be able to select your playable character as well as your character’s primary weapon (on display were the Lancer, the Retro Lancer and the Hammerburst) and your secondary weapon (Gnasher or Sawned-Off Shotgun). Once you’ve chosen your weapons you can then use your D-Pad to change the design of both your guns. For example, you could stick with the normal grey design of the original Lancer, or you could possibly try the new black one with the Crimson Skull which dons the games logo on the side of it. I believe more designs can be unlocked during the course of the game (and undoubtedly by future DLC and preorder bonuses from certain retailers, not to mention by completeing certain achievements during the Beta).
I really enjoyed playing the beta for Gears of War 3. It’s not a massive leap forward from Gears of War 2, but it feels like a more polished and better presented version of the multiplayer matches we’ve played before. I just hope that the changes made to the new titles servers and its weapon balancing don’t ruin what could be the Xbox 360s biggest multiplayer game this Christmas.
13 years is a long time. I never though it would ever see the light of day, but it has. The Dukes back baby!
Taking what 3D Realms left behind, Gearbox have nearly finished Duke Nukem Forever. Now I’ve played it, was it worth the wait?
First and foremost, this game does not take itself very seriously. It even mocks itself on how long its been in development hell for. I started the demo by peeing (yes peeing) before heading outside to fight a big cyborg monster on an American Football pitch with an over the top gun. The guns throughout the demo are suitably alien looking and long term fans of the Duke will undoubtedly feel right at home with some of them, such as the Shrink Ray which shrinks the enemy down to just the right size for you to stomp on them, causing all kinds of blood splatter. Ah yes, I forgot to mention its violent, and incredibly crude, but then what else would you expect from a Duke Nukem title?
So that’s the good news over with. Now I know that I may not have been playing a nearly finished copy of the game, but still, graphical its pretty poor. Zooming into a target can cause your enemy to come in and out of focus, sometimes even disappearing altogether. The big open sandy environment of the second part of the demo looked poor and lifeless, while most of the enemies looked very bland. The animation within the demo were also a bit sketchy, with most of the enemies you kill simply falling backwards. Shooting felt very loose, although you maybe able to tinker with those settings in the full release copy of the game.
It’s Duke Nukem. It has a heritage. Some people may possibly buy it purely because its ‘that game that’s taken years to make!‘, but sadly I’m not convinced. While I’d like to eventually play the full retail copy, based on what I’ve seen so far it won’t be a day one purchase. Like I previously stated, I wasn’t playing the finished article, so I could be proven wrong when it hits the shelves.
Apart from my 3DS, I’ve so far, somehow, managed to not play a game in 3D on a swanky new 3D TV. During my walk around the Gadget Show it was hard not to resist trying the 3D games on display, starting with Gran Turismo on the PS3.
Gran Turismo is a beautiful videogame to behold, and it does look very nice in 3D too. However, apart from adding a little bit of depth to the racing, it really didn’t stand out to me as a game made to show off the 3D capabilities of the Playstation 3.
Motorstorm Apocalypse however, is. While it’s gameplay hasn’t changed an awful lot compared to the original and Pacific Rift, it’s use of 3D makes it a great game to purchase and play if you’ve treated yourself to a new 3D TV. Not only is the added depth noticeable, but the collapsing roads and buildings really do come to life while wearing those funky glasses. Hitting people cause them to fly out of the screen towards you, which made me laugh (in a slightly sadistic manner).
Last up for my dose of 3D gaming was a PC game, the multi-format title Crysis 2. Crytek did a sterling job of bringing Crysis onto the Xbox and PS3 with the level of graphical detail both versions possess, but after playing it on a top of the range PC (with and without 3D) they just aren’t as good visually. The 3D enabled PC in particular looked fantastic.
I’m still not 100% sold on 3D TVs. Although they are becoming cheaper, you still have to wear glasses and they still don’t quite have the full HD picture quality. I admit however, I’m more tempted now than I’ve ever been before.
It’s a new Lego game from Travellers Tales! You know what to expect… Great Lego humour, drop in and out co-op play and a very forgiving title to play. It’s fun, and the little Lego folk have yet to lose their charm. A few gameplay enhancements have been made, such as being able to use Jack Sparrow’s compass to find objects around the level that you require, but all in all you really do know what to expect. Great that they’ve included the newest film of the franchise too, as well as the first 3 films.
With all this new tech being shown off to the masses, it was great to see a couple of retro areas. One of which was being run by the folks who put on on the Replay Video Game Exhibition in Blackpool (which is returning this Novemeber). After playing all the above games, it was great to chill out on Mario Kart 64, while PJ played on something older, the NES. Arcade cabinets were also playable, showing off various Street Fighter iterations and old school side scrollers.
Other Bits and Pieces!
Other games on display included Dirt 3, which looks the business and plays rather well. Sadly I’m shocking at rally games and found myself crashing more than racing. However it looks more presentable than Dirt 2 and I can safely say you can damage your car until it really doesn’t look like a rally car…
I quite liked the original Need for Speed Shift, with it’s nifty cockpit view offering a visual treat when you crash. Shift 2 builds on this by incorporating head movement as you turn corners. Autolog also makes an appearance, which was last seen in Need for Speed Hot Pursuit. Apart from those points however, I don’t feel it’s really done enough to pull in die-hard fans of Forza and Gran Turismo, but does play better than the recently released Test Drive Unlimited 2.
During our trip round the NEC we came across the Insert Coin Clothing pop-up store. They specialize in gaming related t-shirts, ranging from Limbo to Call of Duty, Mario Kart to Bioshock. Jon, the Creative Director of Insert Coin kindly spoke to us on camera about what he’s currently playing, what his company is about and finally which is better, the SNES or the Megadrive. The video will be featured in a montage I’ll be putting together this week which will also feature other footage shot from the show!
All in all, I had a fantastic day, and would like to thank GAME for giving me the chance to go to this event, and I hope I get to go again next year!!