I Went to Gamestop Expo

For my upcoming birthday, I decided to fly out to Las Vegas to attend Gamestop Expo 2017. This is my second year going, but this time I decided to take notes on what I was playing. Now this is no E3, PAX, or Gamescom, so don't expect anything you haven't heard of. But despite that, I still got to play some games early, and I wanted to talk about them.

Before I begin, I have a few things to say. First, I wanted to say that this year was much better than last year. Despite waking up at three in the morning to get on a flight because the Mayweather McGregor fight made the rooms incredibly expensive, I found this year better because it was less crowded and thus I was able to play way more games. Also, I started listening to the GameInformer podcast relatively recently, so seeing Andy McNamara was pretty cool too. The second thing I wanted to say is that I took a picture of every booth I played a game at, but I will admit the pictures aren't that great. It was kind of a rush, so I took rushed photos. Third, this is in order of which games I played first, so don't think this is by favorites. Finally, despite not playing every game there, I still have quite a bit of games to talk about, so get comfy.

1. Raid: World War 2

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The first game I got to play at the expo was Raid: World War 2. I recently put this at number two on my anticipated list, and I have been waiting to play this for a year, so I was definitely excited to play. For those who don't know, the game is about a secret military group called "RAID" that is tasked with fighting against the Nazis during World War 2. But what makes this unique is that the group is also allowed to make profit off of killing Nazis. That is as far as I know story wise, and for gameplay wise,it is essentially WW2 Payday 2. But I found that this game is a big improvement compared to its spiritual successor. The characters are better, as for they each offer a different class and ability, the missions have better and more meaningful objectives(but money is still on the mind), their are single missions and multi day missions, but the multi day ones can be revisited, the areas are bigger and more open,and the alternate World War 2 story is unique and is fun to be in. And even small things like lock picking instead of the drill and better driving is in the game. Also, it has John Cleese, so yeah. Despite that, the game isn't technically sound. The glitches were minor, as for at worst it was some slight stuttering audio and weird enemy animations, but still the game still needs some bug work. Despite that, I had a blast with the game, and I am now even more excited for the game than I was before.

2. Super Mario Odyssey

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That's right, I got to play Super Mario Odyssey. The demo I played allowed me to choose between New Donk City or Tostarena(the frozen desert), and I decided the desert. For those who have seen this area before, I have nothing new to say about the level. But despite playing what everyone has already seen, I still wanted to talk about it. Overall, I would say that the gameplay reminds me of Super Mario Galaxy, with gave me a nostalgia trip without ruining those memories. The settings were vibrant and cheerful, the platforming was fun, the placement of the open world(which I didn't explore) is a great addition, and more. But there were some surprises for sure. The controls felt really good, which what surprised me is that it extended to the 2d parts and the motion controls. The motion controls, mainly, were really good. It wasn't long before I found myself using that instead of the buttons as the way to flick your hat and control its trajectory. It put faith back into motion controls for me, and I am excited to use them again. But one issue I found was that I couldn't really figure out how to control things. I kept trying to control a goomba, but I couldn't. But then whenever I threw my hat a Bullet Bill, I would transform instantly. I do hope the game explains how, but we will have to see. Overall, I would say this game has the charm and cheerfulness similar to other Mario games, and this game will prove to be a great addition to the Switch.

3. Skyrim for the Switch

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Skyrim has been around for years, and it has seen constant re-releases, including the announcement of two new versions this year. But despite the fact that I don't really like playing Skyrim or Fallout anymore, I decided to try out this version on the Switch. Their really isn't much to say other than its Skyrim. I will say the game runs fine, the rumble feels good but a bit excessive, and not having motion controls be a requirement is nice. The controls I played with were weird, but I am sure that they can be changed when released. Their really isn't much to say other than that. I played it for less than a minute, told myself,"yeah, this is Skyrim alright," and moved on. Whether or not that is a good thing is up to you. Despite this, I keep telling myself to give it one more chance(even though that is what draws me away from the game), and ultimately I will probably get the game...at the right price.

4.Middle Earth: Shadow of War

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ME:SW is the sequel to the first game(which I loved), and the fact that it is a sequel shows. The scale of the game is much larger than the first, which for the most part is good. In the demo, I was given an array of missions to choose from, but of course I chose the castle siege mode. It was this mission that really showed its upscale. The intro, from the beginning of the scene to the entry of the castle, was very cinematic. It was really cool watching as your guy runs up to the castle while all of your allies fall to poison arrows, while you remain unscathed. Once I entered, I was given the task to capture point, while hordes of enemies were thrown onto me. Another big difference is the types of enemies as well as the amount of important allies and enemies. This game had massive orcs and some other new ones, and their were around four important allies and enemies in the game. Needless to say, the gameplay got hectic, which is where the upscaling stutters. I found myself rolling more than attacking with the amount of enemies and the big guys blocking the screen, and the amount of game pauses to see the important guys speak or kill each other was too much. Despite that, I thought the castle mode was a lot of fun. Also, it was cool to see my allies rescue me right when an orc was going to do the finishing blow. I don't remember that happening in the first game, so to see that happen to me was definitely surprising and made me want to say "no way!"The game plays just like the first, but this game takes it to a whole new level while keeping the parts that made the game great. Any fans of the first game will find this game to be an improvement, but I fear that newcomers may find this game to be a bit overwhelming. Despite that, I have high hopes for this, and I will definitely keep my eye out for it.

5. Biomutant

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Biomutant is the ARPG announced at Gamescom that caught my attention. The game reminded me of Breath of the Wild, and seeing it made me want to play it, so I did. I can say now that this game is not like BOTW, but that's fine. Despite that, I still had some issues with the game. The game was very pixilated, but I could see a glimmer of hope with that. The environment still looked great, and I think cleaning that up would make the game look visually stunning. But my issues go beyond looks. I found the enemies easy to fight, as for they would just stand there.I would whack at them with my sword, and they just kinda took it.Also, I thought their were too many combo moves to remember. The combos were easy to do, as for the ones that the game told me were all just two buttons, but I still felt that their were too many. Despite those aspects, I still thought that this game had some great aspects as well. Despite the overabundance of combo moves in my opinion, I thought the moves were a lot of fun to do. Anything from diving sideways and shooting Max Payne style to throwing your guns out and having them spin in midair and shoot was really cool to watch and do. Kinda going along with that, the controls feel great, and the basic combat could prove to be fun, if the enemies were a bit harder. Finally, the character is completely customizable, from the appearance to the skills, and that could prove to be fun. This game has a long way to go, but I think it will be a good product when it reaches the end of the road. And one final thing to add; this was the only booth where someone took an active interest in the fact that I was taking notes and asked about how I felt about the game. I get that most of the people working the games are demo people, but the fact that their was still someone taking interest in the player's opinion is what makes the expo part of the game stand out from the rest.

6. Far Cry 5

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Far Cry 5 was there, and me having the love for the Far Cry franchise made me stop what I was doing when I discovered the game was there. I played the same part that was demo'd at E3, but I think this one had more to it. The first part is the same: choosing your companion(I chose Boomer), sneaking you way into the town center and taking out the guys killing civilians, and saving the day. Despite it being seen by many, their is still some new things I discovered. For starters, capturing towns is way cooler than outposts in previous entries. It feels more impactful to capture a town, and after capturing it gives you a cool cutscene of people coming out of hiding and re-opening the town again. But I also noticed some not-so-good things to come out of that first area. The framerate was just low enough for me to notice and take note on, and the controls felt clunky. I found myself moving my body to aim my gun instead of moving my hands, but I eventually managed to kill the dudes and move on. Also, I couldn't get Boomer to give me enemy guns. It may have been the fact that I had a full weapon inventory, but it would have still been useful to rip guns out of enemy hands. Oh well. But this is where the game extends. I soon found myself talking to the bar owner who directs me to the airplane hangar to help out another person. After helping him out, he decided to give me the reigns on his flying machine, and it wasn't long before I found myself flying. I heard that the flying was poor, but trying out wasn't that bad. The flying was simple and the amount of weapons and exploration I had with the plane was fun. It got challenging when it came to fighting another plane, but more training in the plane will definitely help. In the end, I would say that this is Far Cry, but in a much cooler setting with a better antagonist group and better characters. It seems to be filled with more content than ever before, and is ultimately a game I am excited for, especially being a fan of the series.

7. Cuphead

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I saw it, and I couldn't resist. It being number one on my anticipation list for September and it being something I have been waiting for got me so excited to try it out. I got to play a run n gun level that has already been demo'd before, but their are some things worth mentioning. The first thing to say about this game is how hard it is. It is really difficult. The enemies are relentless and the surprising amount of controls in the game caught me off guard and I found myself dying a lot. But it was a fun difficult, and I can find myself going until my fingers fall off, or I complete the level. Despite their being a wealth of controls, I still found them to be good, and they mixed well with the great platforming. Having multiple items was also good, as for it will vary up the gameplay. Having the different modes in the game will also make the gameplay varying. I played run n gun, but I also know of a plane mode and boss mode, and maybe more down the line. Either way, I bet they will be fun. Despite this stuff being very well known, I still want to praise the fact that it has local co-op and how much of a commitment to the 30s cartoon style their is. When it comes to the 30s style, I love that everything is hand drawn, the music is original, and more. That commitment bleeds into the gameplay, and makes it an experience I can't wait to get my hands on soon.

8. Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus

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This game was one of my most anticipated games that came out of E3 this year, so of course I had to try it out. I played and loved the previous new entries, and I had high hopes that this will be even better than before. After playing it, I can still say this will be better than previous entries. The cutscenes and the voice acting is still great, the writing is still surprisingly good for a shooter, the combat is great, playing on a wheelchair proved to be beyond vehicle combat and was a blast, having the great characters, good and bad, return is great, and the game still proves to be challenging yet fun with new difficulty modes. Some small issues did arise with the game though. First, I thought about the returning characters, and I think about the fact that most of them were on the brink of death, B.J. especially. That was a passive thought though, and having these characters back was still something I loved. The next issue was these weird pauses and filters between cutscenes. They would look way different from the game, which was something in the first game, but the strange pauses and cuts from what you were doing was also strange. Despite that, Wolfenstein 2 still proved to be a blast and I can't wait to kill more Nazis.

9. Strange Brigade

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Strange Brigade was one of the games that caught my attention from E3, and seeing it on the show floor caught my attention. This was the other 30s game, but in a more Indiana Jones style. The gameplay is similar to Sniper Elite, but it sill had improvements. The controls felt tighter, the weapons were fun to use and were actually usable unlike the non-sniper rifles in the Sniper series. The combat was easy, but was balanced with its fast pace. The respawns were fast, the enemies and the characters had variety, the Indiana Jones setting is fun, and the environments are bright and vibrant. The game reminded me of the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland, and having that feeling while playing the game made it a better experience. I will be looking forward to playing this game when it comes out in the near future.

I thought I could get through all sixteen games in one sitting, but I ran out of time, so I will be doing a part two for the remaining seven games. But from what I have played, I can say that the rest of 2017 and 2018 will be good years for video games, and I can't wait for these games to be released. Tune in for part two of my list in the coming days.

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