Day 2 at the EuroGamer Expo was even more electric than the first. The cosplayers were out in force and some of the big names went much bigger with their displays. The Resident Evil team worked their makeup magic on some zombies again, followed by a bunch of nuns getting eaten alive. Shortly after that Master Chief arrived followed by a life size beast from Aliens, and that was just the cosplay. Many of the games upgraded their booths to include different demos or the full game, and people turned up in their thousands. Captain Camper leaves his thoughts about Day 2 at the EuroGamer Expo.
After queuing for a couple of hours the first day, we thought we’d be sneaky and turn up even earlier the second day. Arriving 2 hours before opening, we were right near the front, almost certain that we’d be able to get to the ZombiU queue before the horde. We also spent some time mingling with the crowd, big shout out to the XBL guys.
However this time several of the EuroGamer employees traveled down the line checking peoples tickets before opening, reducing the previous days entry time by almost 2 hours. This kinda presented an every man for himself situation as everyone already had their wrist bands on. Needless to say, we were at the front to begin with, but not as we entered.
So by the time we got in there was a massive queue for ZombiU again, even bigger than the previous day. I promised a number of our regular visitors that I’d tackle ZombiU so I commenced the 2 hour queuing session before I done anything else.
Thankfully I was lucky enough to get placed in the queue with some chatty folk, drastically reducing the agonizing 2 hour wait. We were so busy chatting gaming that we never actually formerly introduced ourselves but a big shout out to happy beard man if you’re reading. So after about 90 minutes I finally got to the front of the queue and the cute little Wii-U girl with the Mario hat let me on through. Only to find there was another queue inside the actual booth area. So after about another 30 minutes, I was finally able to get my hands on the Wii-U controller and ZombiU.
I’ve already been slated for disagreeing with the masses in my Day 1 coverage of EuroGamer Expo, and I’ll probably get slated again here. I wasn’t all that impressed with ZombiU. You begin the game as a random survivor and simply progress through the demo level slaughtering zombies as you go. If you die, which I did, you begin your journey again as a new survivor however your previous survivor actually becomes a zombie in the area where they died, and their gear is also available to collect. This was one of the most interesting aspects of the game but the guy walking me through did say that the zombies will not reappear in the full version of the game. So basically, you die and lose your stuff, back to the start and run unchallenged to the area where you died and collect your old belongings, kinda making the entire feature a bit pointless.
I was very impressed with the Wii-U itself, and I think that’s the purpose of ZombiU. Rather than breaking any boundaries as a game itself, it does demonstrate what the Wii-U is capable of. The controller itself is like a large GameBoy, you have your shoulder buttons, 2 sticks and typical 4 button layout, but there’s also a large screen in the center of the pad. It was very light for the size, feeling less heavy than the official Playstation 3 Dual Shock controllers, but the stick placement felt funky. Unlike current generation game pads the sticks aren’t offset, they’re in the same place on either side. I’m sure it’s something you could get used to over time but I didn’t feel I had as much control as I would with current control pads.
Whilst you’re playing you can have your character use a scanner to locate nearby objects and points of interest. When you activate the scanner you transfer over to the control pad screen and can turn a full 360 degrees to inspect the environment around you. It felt really strange looking the opposite direction of the TV and still being able to see the game but I don’t feel it was really necessary. In your typical game you simply turn around but if I was sitting on my couch at home I’d have to stand up and turn around to get the full effect. The game doesn’t stop while you’re interacting with the control pad and it only takes 1 bit to be killed. This is a bit of a double edge sword as it creates a truly intense life or death experience, but at the same time it’s almost impossible to give both screens your full attention.
Other areas that involve interaction with the touch-screen control pad were a bit more exciting. When you come across a corpse or anything that can be looted, you use the touch-screen to drag items to your backpack or hot-keys. Again the world is still alive whilst you’re doing this so you can’t afford to waste time. My personal favorite experience of ZombiU was using the Sniper Rifle. There are 2 aiming mechanics, one which allows you to just zoom in slightly and fire, while the other allows full use of the scope. If you choose to use the full scope the view point transfers over to the control pad. You can still see your character and surroundings on the full screen TV, which was great, and you also get the precision of zooming in with the touch-screen.
The graphics were great, I’d compare them to the current generation. Obviously it’s a launch title so I would assume the Wii-U is capable of more but it’s definitely a massive improvement on the Wii. I wasn’t overly interested in the Wii-U as I felt it would probably be filled with easy, children-based titles like the original Wii. However the introduction of ZombiU as a launch title totally destroys that assumption and the graphics mean it’s easily going to be appealing to the more hardcore gamers.
Tomb Raider Preview
I’ve not enjoyed any of the Tomb Raider games since the original but I thought I’d give this one a shot as it’s many have said it takes a totally different approach to the other games. Sadly the queue for the full game was almost as big as the ZombiU one and I wanted to make sure I could cover as much as possible, so I chose to enter the pre-beta hunting demo booth which was far quicker. To my surprise, I actually rather enjoyed it. You start as an injured Lara Croft, with slightly smaller breasts I mite add, and the idea is to survive.
The first few minutes teach you the basics of the games acrobatics, using familiar tools like wall-running and scaling. There’s also a pretty neat falling mechanic. If you misjudge a jump or Lara starts to lose her grip you have a few seconds to mash a button to secure her hand grip. It’s a tiny feature but something that gave the game a bit more oomph as you were never sure how safe you would be with the environment changing around you. There was parts of the walls and vines that would collapse as you got close, forcing the use of quick thinking to stay alive.
After navigating your way through the jungle you arrive at a large tree. Hanging from this tree is the decaying corpse of a hunter. There’s not really any information how he came to be hanging Predator style from the tree, but starving and cold, the bow he holds is the first sign of survival you see. After navigating a few eery jumps you tear him down and gain access to your first weapon. This begins the survival aspect of the combat. You notice a Deer nearby, which probably looks extremely tasty to a starving, injured Lara Croft, so you have to chase it down. The shooting mechanics were familiar, simply aiming and firing to take it down. You then interact with the body to collect the meat. I was disappointed that there was any lack of interaction or mini-game during the skinning, as the developers said survival would play quite a large aspect of the game.
The demo didn’t really continue much past that point. You have to travel back to your camp to cook the meat, earning experience and survival points. You could only really choose 1 upgrade at this stage, adding the ability to collect arrows from fallen enemies. A lot of the other options provide no tool-tips or information until you’re able to unlock them, but there was quite a large amount there.
I watched some of the other players on the full-game and it appeared much of the same. It does look like Tomb Raider is going to reinvent Lara Croft as the developers have stated.
Hitman: Absolution Preview
This was my hidden gem of Day 2 at the EuroGamer Expo. I enjoyed the previous Hitman titles but they weren’t something I’d rush out to get at launch day. But after just 10 minutes playing Hitman: Absolution, I’ll be queuing at launch day along with everyone else.
You begin the demo as the familiar bold, red-tie wearing assassin in the middle of China Town. A contact, simply called Birdie, has asked you to assassinate a business rival before he’s able to provide you with the information you need. Queue the heartless assassin. The environment of China Town itself was great, hustling with hundreds of people and traders. It’s literally impossible to move without bumping pedestrians to one side, replicating the chaotic feeling of China Town almost perfectly.
As you approach a large Pagoda in he center of town you can activate your instincts to view your target and nearby threats, both of which are displayed in different colors to make it obvious. Forgetting everything I learned in assassin school, I took out my gun and shot the target dead. Only to be instantly jumped on by 4 police officers and a rather large on-screen prompt of “SWAT are on the way”. I proceeded to shoot a couple of the police and then enjoyed some melee combat. The melee combat works with on-screen key prompts and the animations flow perfectly. Oh S**t hadn’t left my lips before I was pushing up daisies, so I opted for a more stealth approach the second time round.
There’s a constant pop-up that tells you to look for a more silent way of taking out your target, but it took some time for me to discover the correct route. I noticed a high window overlooking the Pagoda and headed over to investigate. There was an armed guard blocking the stairs to get up to the window so I had to think of a way to get rid of him. An electrical box was mounted on the wall nearby, and sure enough it attracted the guards attention once I sabotaged it. Hiding behind a nearby wall I waited for the guard to get close before grabbing his neck, snapping it and then taking his uniform as a disguise. I hid the body and headed up the stairs. My instincts located a drug dealer inside the room with the window so I hid in a nearby closet until he came out. I grabbed his face and smiled as I snapped yet another neck before hiding him in the closet. I then went into the room to find a Sniper Rifle and some drugs. There was an option to poison the drugs with a certain fish but I didn’t visit enough of the trader stalls below to find one.
So I stood at the window and just before I lined up my shot the controller died. If you’ve not been to an Expo before, they basically have the control pads permanently connected to a charger and something to stop people stealing it. But having the luck that I do my control pad wouldn’t reach far enough while connected and it wasn’t connected when I got there. I only played for about 10 minutes but I’m definitely hyped for this one.
Doom 3 BFG Edition Preview
Doom has captured the hearts of millions since 1993 and it’s great to see Bethesda bringing another new title to the franchise. I was lucky enough to get a seat playing the 3D version although I have to say, someone needs to bring out some 3D glasses that fit with headsets as it felt awkward as hell.
Despite being a huge fan of the Doom franchise, I can’t really say that I was impressed with Doom 3 BFG Edition. The 3D effect was minimal for the most part. The gun looked great and 2-3 of the objects stood out but the same objects were used multiple times and the enemies didn’t really seem to have any kind of 3D effect whatsoever. It also felt extremely scripted. Today’s games adapt to the player, they change on the fly, but Doom 3 BFG Edition used the same ambushes and environmental effects each play through. This basically meant I knew the entire layout of the level, where and when enemies would spawn and the enemy types, before I’d even left the first room. The environment was the same, with the same noises and changes playing every time I went through a room.
I couldn’t quite figure out if Bethesda are trying to give us that nostalgic feeling or if the game is just unimaginative with old mechanics. It’s definitely a Doom game, there’s no arguing about that, but I feel the franchise should have evolved a bit more than what it has.