Eurogamer Expo 2012: Day One

BlastProcess.com were at this year’s Eurogamer Expo on Thursday 27th and Friday 28th of September. Both myself and Mike had a great time chatting with various developers, members of PR and of course you…the gamers.

We also got to play a large number of games, some of which are mentioned below while the others will follow in the next few days. We’ve also got a number of videos heading online next week.
 

This post runs through the games I got to play on Day One of the show. I’ll be returning to some of these titles in the near future. I’ll have Day Two’s titles up in the near future:
 
God of War Ascension
 
Kratos is back for another brutal outing of the popular Playstation Exclusive series ‘God of War’. Ascension, the upcoming title for PS3 is in fact a prequel, diving into Kratos’s past before any of the previous titles.
 
The playable demo on the show floor allowed the player to try out the new ‘Life Cycle’ system. When a piece of scenery early on in the demo gets destroyed you have to recover the broken terrain by holding L1. The once collapsed lift shaft starts to fix back into place, although you don’t want it to be fully repaired just yet. By releasing the button press half way through the lift’s recovery you can then use the floating debris to move up to a better vantage point, before once again using the Life Cycle technique to finish the job. This allows you to progress to the next stage of the demo.

One thing that to me is always apparent is how with each new God of War title the developers continue to turn the ‘brutality’ notch up slightly. Stabbing a foe in the head several times before ripping it open to reveal its brain gives you a clear indication of why this title was in the 18+ area. Graphically, it’s a slight improvement on the already impressive looking God of War 3.

So, how was my experience with the latest God of War? While I’m sure it’ll appeal to fans of the series, it plays just like any of the other titles. The story maybe slightly different, but this titles only stand out new feature is the inclusion of multiplayer thus far (which sadly wasn’t on show at the Expo). It held no surprises, which really wasn’t a surprise at all.
DMC: Devil May Cry
Capcom have allowed Enslaved developers Ninja Theory to create a new direction for Dante, the demon hunter from the previous Devil May Cry games. The internet exploded with mix emotions when the new dark haired ‘Emo’ lead character made his first appearance. I won’t lie, I wasn’t too pleased.
DMC is an origin story, hence the younger Dante.

While his armoury hasn’t changed, his latest outing seems from what I’ve played of it so far, much more approachable to new gamers to the series. His move list has changed a little too, with the left bumper activating ‘Angel Mode’ and the right bumper activating ‘Devil Mode’. While the more evil of the two forms increases damage output, the angelic mode allows you to reach previously un-reachable places. In my case, when fighting what can best be described as a massive parasite with a huge human head sticking out the bottom, the Angel Mode allowed me to move to another vantage point when the boss used a move which saturated the ground, slowing and damaging you.

While the previous Devil May Cry games were dark, which in part was down to its gritty graphical style this new DMC seems bold and bright. I enjoyed the combat and movement of the new Dante, but I’m still not sold on his attitude. ‘I’m Dante, the Demon Hunter’ I believe one of his lines were, read out like a school kid showing off. Perhaps I’m being a little harsh as I’m sure the character will develop during the course of the game to become more like the Dante of old.

The demo left me feeling like I want to play more, not because I really enjoyed it but more because it didn’t do enough to get my attention one way or another. I really can’t make my mind up if I prefer the overall new approach or not. As a fan of the previous games, I know full well I’ll be giving this one another go.
 
Tomb Raider
 
I’ve also been a little hit and miss (more so miss) with the Tomb Raider series, so I haven’t really taken in any of the previous versions. Therefore I find it slightly odd that I’m increasingly being drawn into the hype of yet another prequel title, the latest Tomb Raider game.
 
If there’s one feeling I get above all others after finishing the demo it’s that Lara Croft is out of her depth in this new game. She is of course up for the task of scaling crashed planes and working her way around perilous cliff faces, but the developers behind the title make it clear she isn’t enjoying any of it.

By the end of the demo you’re left feeling sorry for Miss Croft thanks to her well written dialogue, negative body language and shivering. Her animations when pulling herself up onto ledges genuinely make you feel like she’s really struggling. This is her battling the elements around her.

The demo was relatively short, but did introduce the bow and arrow. LT to aim, RT to fire means anyone who has played any recent form of FPS will be at home using the Bow. You can also tell camps will play a part in the story, acting like save points. At the camp fire you can upgrade your skills, giving you various paths to increase stats based on your playing style (you can increase her Marksmanship for example, or her Survivability). Finishing objectives seem to involve returning back to the camp before the next area of the game becomes available.
 
Overall, I really enjoyed my short time with Lara. Although I may not have been her biggest fan, this re-working of the Tomb Raider franchise certainly has my interest.
 
The Cave
 
Now this is a little gem that had somehow passed me by until the Expo.
 
From the mind of Ron Gilbert in conjunction with Double Fine Studios comes a quirky little downloadable platform puzzle title, The Cave.
 
It’s a two player title, although thanks to the use of character swapping you actually pick 2 different characters each. Each character is linked to a different direction on the D-Pad, so via a quick press you can switch to someone else. Character swapping is important because each of the oddball personalities have individual skills. One for example, can ‘shift’ through doors without opening them, while another can use a hook to reach high places.
 
When I say oddball, I do mean oddball. The roster includes a medieval knight, a hillbilly, a pair of creepy Victorian twins and a futuristic robot girl. While the characters are fairly humorous in their own right, it’s the narrator of the game whom brings the chuckles. The location and narrator are one and the same. That Cave your exploring? It talks. Only Double Fine/Gilbert could possible create the idea of a talking cave. His comments are very well written, and although the Expo’s background loud sounds drowned out a lot of the audio I’d be lying if I said I didn’t crack a bit of a smile from time to time when I did hear the odd line or two.

As previously mentioned the characters you choose play a large part in how you progress through the title. As with many Gilbert puzzles titles you’ll find yourself coming across an obstacle, which can only be solved by sorting out another problem, but you’ll need to solve that one first. I’m sure you get the idea at this stage. There is a fair amount of moving back and forwards throughout but I wouldn’t let that put you off. The game starts by explaining that the cave itself has been closed off due to The Cave’s Trinket Shop running out of items to sell. To introduce you to the puzzle elements your first task is to find 3 trinkets so that the cave itself can re-open.
 
It’s still a fair way off from being released, but from the early stages of the game you can tell this will be a well-polished and accomplished puzzle title. Just make sure you’ve got your brain at the ready, as one of the developers helped myself and Mike on a couple of occasions.
 
Playstation All Stars: Battle Royale
 
I really liked Nintendo’s Super Smash Brothers games, pitting popular (and some older, unloved gaming characters) against each other to see who can stay in the fight longest. The more damage you received meant you were more likely to be blasted out of the arena. Manic 4 player action ensued, giving Nintendo another gem in its arsenal of strong first party titles.
 
What slightly surprises me is that, until now, we never really saw anything similar from Sony or Microsoft. Perhaps they were worried that it would be too much like Nintendo’s fighting game?
Well, Sony have gone and done it anyway, pitting their own gaming characters against each other. The roster does rely heavier on third party companies more so than Nintendo as let’s be honest, Sony don’t have the strongest lead characters who would fit into a title like this. Sony’s Nathan Drake (Uncharted), Cole (inFamous) and Kratos (God of War) all make appearances alongside third party characters such as a Big Daddy (Bioshock) and Raiden (Metal Gear). It’s great to see some love for the older Playstation heroes, such as Parappa the Rapper, of whom also makes an appearance.
Set in interactive arenas, like Smash Bros, you can utilise you characters skills to defeat your opponents. Again, like Smash Bros, 4 player action is fun and fast paced. Once you’ve run out of health your character disappears before re-spawning a few moments later. You lose points each time you fall and gain points for each character you dispose of.

There are a large number of mini-games on offer (which sadly we didn’t get to try), but let’s get right to the point. This plays an awful lot like Smash Bros. Superbot, the studio behind this title, have done a great job balancing the characters and creating the interactive arenas inspired by Playstation titles are great fun, but this really is a clone of Nintendo’s tried and tested formula.
 
We did also get to play the Vita version. The first of which worked really well, as the vibrancy of the quality Vita screen shines through. My second go however wasn’t quite as enjoyable as the game’s camera seemed to be too set back, making all of the characters (including the one I was playing as) too difficult to see what/where I was going. My obvious guess would be that this was down to both games taking place in 2 different arenas. While the first seemed to fit perfectly, the second match didn’t. I hope they can sort out some form of fix for that before release.

Of course, if you’re buying the PS3 version you get the Vita version for free, which even with a slightly iffy camera is a brilliant deal, especially with the fact that Vita and PS3 users can fight it out against each other.
 

Carmageddon
 
It’s been years since gamers first got to mow down pedestrians in a very mature racing title entitled Carmageddon. It caused uproar in the press; parents were disgusted, so naturally…it sold fairly well. While we’ve seen sequels and ports over the years
 
Playable on the iPhone and iPad, this port of the original hasn’t been tinkered with and changed, aside from the inclusion of saved replays that are shareable. This is truly Carmageddon as you probably remember it to be with your racers facial expression at the top of the screen, opportunities to run down masses of people and over the top spikey vehicles. Its major downfall is one I’ve found with many racing games on the iPhone…on screen controls.

At times I found cornering and such frustrating as I’d spin out of control from over steering or crashing into buildings via under-steering. I can’t remember a map being in the original, but I wish it had one, as the port doesn’t ether. Relying upon passing through checkpoints, after a couple of crashes and detours over hapless people I kept getting lost, passing through the ‘Wrong Checkpoint’ various times.
 
The iPad version is easier to play, and it graphically doesn’t look overly stretched compared to the iPhone version. It’s simple fun at the end of the day, and while I could complain that the maps are bland or that the world isn’t populated enough I was led to believe it’ll have a low cost once it hits the App Store. If this is true, then it’ll be a great time killing title while waiting for Reincarnation. No pun intended.

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