What a day it has been, it is now 10 in the evening an I am relatively pooped. I travelled up here to London from Cardiff and checked into my hostel earlier today before spending a few hours down at the Eurogamer Expo in Earl’s Court. It was only a short visit compared to what I hope to achieve over the next few days, but it had some very good moments. Hit the jump for my Day 1 roundup.
I will be honest and up front, my first impressions this year weren’t quite as good as they were last year. At the 2011 edition of the Expo there were two tanks sitting outside Earl’s Court in honour of World of Tanks, sadly this year there aren’t any tanks. Instead there is a 4×4 loaded with massive spikes to show off Carmaggeddon. It did little to attract my attention knowing what has gone before.
Inside the event (bear in mind this was about 4 in the afternoon) things were busy. At the front end some kindly Eurogamer staff were giving out Expo guides. These are definitely a step up from last year in terms of physical quality, which is a positive sign that the event is growing in British gaming culture. Even better than this though was a real Formula 1 car standing proud near the front of the main hall. I never thought I would see an F1 car in person, so it is fair to say I was a bit excited by this turn of events.
Onwards though to the games, after meeting up with our very own Ben Borthwick (freelance extrodinaire) for a bit I had a quick check out of Hotline Miami and promptly died quite a lot. This is an 80’s feeling top-down 2D action game with fists and guns of steel. I was intrigued by it, and I will certainly be checking it out again for a more extensive playtest. I also had chance to observe some people playing Prison Architect, certainly something which is going to be one of Introversion’s best games (to go along with their other quality titles) and will be one of my indie highlights when it comes out. I can’t say too much as I didn’t get to play it, but I am absolutely looking forward to getting back to the Expo so I can try it out myself.
These two titles were just part of the wider indie game and Rezzed areas, these parts of the event are going to be holding some gems I am sure, I just hope I can make the time to play even a fraction of them.
Surprisingly I was able to get hands-on with some big name titles without having to wait too long. First up was Company of Heroes 2 which blew me away. The demo was of a campaign level, I was kind of hoping for some straight up skirmish action, but you can’t have it all. The level I played put me in control of a small group of Russian infantry troops tasked with initially taking control of a German held crossroads. I got into the swing of things straight away, it is certainly easy to pick up this game and get involved, though I get the feeling there is a lot of depth to the tactics that I didn’t get to look at.
I sent my troops on a flanking mission and was fortunate enough to see my flamethrower wielding troops in action. That is a very impressive sight. After clearing the crossroads I was kept on my toes by having to move up to another German outpost. A bit more flanking and hiding in buildings later and this key position was mine, but I had to keep hold of it, which I did thanks to the introduction of a heavy machine-gun squad.
Here the pacing of the level played out perfectly, after getting my breath back from withstanding the German counter-attack (with the help of some ground-attack planes) and bringing my squads up to full strength I was able to launch an attack on a Russian tank stranded in the middle of an enemy position. With some canny use of grenades (a player controlled ability), heavy meachine-gun fire and fighter support I was able to drive the Germans away and secure the tank. After knocking a German Panzer out of action the level was complete, and I was left wanting more.
I will be back to try that mission again, but safe to say I was seriously impressed.
Coming next to Dishonored and I found myself playing on a 360 build which instantly grated. This isn’t the kind of game I want to play on a console, and certainly not on a show floor where it is difficult to feel at ease. I only played about ten minutes before having to rush off, enough to die once and get in a few scrapes. It does seem impressive, highlighted by removing a Whale Oil canister from a power supply freeing an imprisoned family who rewarded me by informing my of a stash they had kept secret from the guards. Foolishly I decided not to explore this side-mission and proceeded on with my main target of entering the house of a character known as Sokolov. A bit of failed stealthing later and I was in. I took control of a guard inside the building, but foolishly walked him around to no benefit to myself. I re-formed where I left the guard and was promptly cut down in a blaze of gun-fire from his buddy. Not my finest hour, but I hope to get more time with the game during the Expo in order to build some more definitive impressions.
I also got to grips with the new Tomb Raider which had a certain Uncharted feel to it. I will keep this brief as I am shattered, but I was pleased with what I saw, though definitely wanting to play more. I hunted deer and climbed around a World War Two bomber, it was fun, but again I didn’t play enough to form a full opinion.
Despite only having a handful of hours on the show floor, I enjoyed my time. I can’t wait to get back down there tomorrow to really get stuck into things, and there are some really good conferences lined up. Here is to the rest of the weekend!