By Sweep 19 Comments
On Friday I arrived at Earls Court in London to attend the Eurogamer Expo. If you don't have any idea what that is, more information can be found here. I guess it's a bit like E3, except British and with only two E's. So... E2?
An IntroductionAnyway, this was my first time visiting any kind of videogame type event so I didn't really know what to expect. The expo started at 11 and I turned up at about 12:30. Miraculously there was no queue at all so we basically strolled right onto the show floor. It was a huuuuge room and it was completely packed full of men with ponytails and an uncomfortable amount of kids wearing black hoodies of the "this is the first time I have left the house this week" variety.
The first wave of booths was almost entirely Playstation Move and Kinect stuff. I didn't spend much time here, but I still had a look around. It was pretty interesting watching the crowd. The more traditional light-gun eye-toy type stuff was looking super popular, and there was a lot of interest in the Dance games. There was also a fair amount of people glancing at the entire selection with complete disdain, and I heard several people mutter to friends about how underwhelming the wave of motion sensitive games was. It's tough, because I can totally understand not wanting to play Dance Central in a room full of strangers - especially for the first time when you are obviously going to be terrible at the game. However there was the typically awkward group of attendees lining up to humiliate themselves, usually spurred on by the hugely out-numbered wives-and-girlfriends crowd. There was a pretty similar display at the Def Jam Rapstar booth. It strikes me that the majority of people who are really going to buy and get the most out of these games are not the people who are likely to attend a videogame convention, but there were still enough people trying them out and they seemed to be enjoying it. I was chatting to one of the "booth babes" (heh) and she wouldn't shut up about Dance Central, even though she doesn't even own a console.
GEARS OF WAR 3If you read my blog at all you will know I am a HUGE Gears Of War fan (yeah, that's right. Fuck you, buddy), so I predictably triangulated and hunted down the nearest Gears Of War 3 booth and joined the queue. It took about 20 minutes before I got to sit down in front of the machine for my first round of the all new Beast mode. Beast Mode is like a big upside-down-squirrel version of Horde mode. You and 4 friends have to clear a map of human survivors before the time limit runs out. The game works with a credit system, so you earn credits by killing survivors and then spend them on upgraded versions of the Locust. So the starting locust are Tickers and Wretches, then you get Butchers for about 12 credits and Boomers, Maulers, Kantus etc for about 20. Unfortunately the booths were set to unlimited tokens so players could experiment freely so we never really got a feel for how well the system would be implemented. Players can play as normal Grenadier Locust as well, though classes like the Kantus are much more fun. The Kantus can basically press X at any time to perform his revive, which will pick up any locust that had been knocked down on the map in the traditional fashion. There is also the Boomer with a new Boomshot that shoots a worm-type slug that burrows underground and undermines defensive positions. I believe there are also grenades which do a similar thing. Once you unlock enough credits you gain access to the heavy weapons stuff like the Beserkers and Armoured Kantus. The Armoured Kantus is immune to bullet damage, rocks double pistols, and can kill enemies by rolling into them. Also, they look badass.
There is also a weird rock-worm type playable locust called the Ceripede which has electric antenna. I got to try this class out briefly and it was really weird. You basically control the head of the worm like it's a normal player but there's a giant worm body following you around everywhere. Turning also felt pretty odd.
The enemies you fight upgrade in a traditional Horde type manner - you will start off fighting Stranded civilians equipped with pistols and shotguns, move on to generic CoG soldiers, and by the Beserker stage you will be attacking squads of familiar CoG faces wielding Boomshots and Hammers of Dawn, protected by Silverbacks - the Gears Mech suits. Towards the end it get's pretty intense.
- The COG forces have lancer-turrets, which are basically 2 lancers strapped to a laser targeting thingymajig. These seemed pretty good at taking down even the stronger locust forces, so prioritising their destruction will be an important part of any attack.
- Characters like Dizzy, Tai, and Hoffman appeared amongst the newer kids like Jace Stratton and Sam Bryne - as well as a mix of stranded running around. Was kinda weird seeing Tai running about considering he died in Gears 2. Who wants to place money on Franklin making an appearance?
- Watching 5 Beserkers tearing up a cog defensive position is SO FUCKING AWESOME.
I went back to the Gears booth later in the day when there weren't so many people waiting to play and for some reason they had disabled the LAN play so each of the 5 machines was running single-player Beast mode. This was no fun at all, as there didn't seem to be any AI team-mates. Fighting a whole base of CoG as a single Wretch is just dumb - and predictably I didn't survive the first round. I really hope they find a way of fixing this as I otherwise had a lot of fun with Beast Mode.
Seeing as they weren't monitoring the booth, I took the liberty of switching over to campaign and actually managed to get through a sizable chunk of their E3 demo level before a member of staff spotted me and hurried over looking worried. I got to experiment with a few new weapons, including the Sawn-Off shotgun, which replaces your pistol and takes FUCKING FOREVER to reload but can kill a locust in a single shot. I also have to say that the new lambent enemies look awesome and are super fun to kill, exploding and spraying imulsion everywhere. The old-school bayonet lancer is also exceedingly fun to use, though I can already see the nightmares of wielding that weapon in multiplayer. It's basically a chainsaw you can run with. Last time I played Gears 2 that was also known as "cheating".
So, that's the first of my Eurogamer Expo blogs.Coming soon, blogs on:
- Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
- Crysis 2
- Assassins Creed Brotherhood
- Gran Turismo 5
- Dead Space 2
- LittleBigPlanet 2
- Killzone 3
- Fable 3
- Fallout New Vegas
Yeah. My weekend was fucking awesome. If anyone has any questions about Gears Of War 3 give me a shout in the comments below. Stay tuned for more E2 blogs!
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