EB Games Expo - Blog

8:30am – Arrived at the expo, and it’s hot. The male to female ratio is highly skewed, and there are lots of people in cosplay. Stay tuned for footage from the cosplay convention.

10:30am – Saw demos of both Assassin’s Creed 3 and Injustice. Both very pretty, but as with most of the games here, it’s a sequel-rama.

12:30pm – Previewed a whole range of games on the exhibition floor. I’ll give you my thoughts on the games, and the general vibe of the event.

Assassin’s Creed 3

It’s as pretty as some of the sales reps here, and the change of scenery to the American woodlands is a nice change. It’s set during the American Revolution, so there are grenadier guardsmen, redcoats, natives and Boston Tea Partiers. The gameplay has been revamped too. You have the option to now dual-wield two different weapons, which means for example, you can go shooty-shooty stabby-stabby. Lot’s of killing, and it makes me wonder, do these British Redcoats have kids.

Yes, the main character/plot device/sequel linker is central to this game, as always. They have introduced a new gameplay feature, which is naval battles, however it looks more like a mini-game which will get tiresome, quickly.

Verdict: If you really are engrossed by the series, this is a go. For those of us who found the gameplay repetitive and linear, filled with shitty fetch quests, avoid.

Injustice – Gods Among Us

This is Mortal Kombat in a non-canon DC Universe. All the regulars are there: Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, The Flash and a whole bunch of others I have never heard of, but you probably will have if you’re into comics and stuff like that.

The game tries to break from the normal features of button-masher fighters, with the ability to interact (to a very limited extent) with the environment, and a power-meter, which allows you to face off with the other fighter, or perform special moves.

Looks like something that you could sit on the couch with friends and play for an hour, but the impression I got was that beyond unlocking characters and levels, it’s quite shallow.

Verdict: Thanks but no thanks, WB.

RAN: Naval Big Game

Next February, the Australian Royal Navy is releasing a game which seeks to replicate a naval combat environment, the combat systems, cryptography, intel and other operations. It will be free to play, and it reminds me a lot of the game ‘America’s Army’.

I asked the naval officer straight out if it’s a recruitment game, and he may as well have said yes. Be prepared for a lot of negative media coverage surrounding this title.

Just Dance 4

They wouldn’t let me get much footage of it (posted later), but it looked genuinely fun. It utilises motion detection hardware of your Kinect or whatever the PS3 version of that is. If you’re somebody who doesn’t like games, this one is for you – a bit like Singstar. ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ and “Call Me Maybe’ looked pretty fun, and I can only assume the dancers were enjoying themselves, while looking stupid.

Too bad it doesn’t have moves like ‘The Shopping Trolley’ or ‘The Sprinkler’.

Verdict: Would be fun while drunk, or trying to work off last night’s Chicken Gourmet chips and gravy.

Splinter Cell

Another game in which you’re an American whose job it is to kill off peasants from the Middle East. If you can get past this, it’s a prettied-up version of the old Splinter Cells. From the preview I saw, it was very cutscene-heavy, and as before, the emphasis is on stealth and technology. Guns ablazing will not get you far (sorry MW2 fans).

Verdict: Yes, if you’re a closet racist.

Epic Mickey

I don’t know why I bothered with this. It’s a game for children and pedophiles. You take on the character Mickey Mouse, well, Epic (?) Mickey Mouse, and you do boring quests and puzzles.

Verdict: Buy it for your nephew, or your uncle, if he’s like that.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

This is the one we’ve all been waiting for. I watched a couple of rounds of this, and it played the same as all of the recent CoD games. The UI was pretty and updated, but the graphics were same-same.

One good feature is that you’re no longer killing Muslims and Russians, but rather Mercenaries.

Verdict: Yes, if you like these games. Be prepared for 12 year olds to still beat you. If you’re not familiar with the serious, continue to avoid.

The Event

It’s a consumer conference. They’re selling their products. There’s a lot of sports, racing and combat games, but no strategy that I could see. That would be because a lot of strategy publishers are now distributing digitally (Paradox is a no show, unfortunately).

For those who didn’t upgrade to VIP tickets, there’s a lot of waiting in line to play the hottest titles. The crowds are huge, and EB must be making a mint off this.

One nice thing to see is a very broad demographic representation. Skewed towards men, but otherwise, there are some oldies, some kids, mostly young adults. A few people have really turned it on with the costumes. Stay tuned for more.

2:30 – Once more into the breach, this time for round 2 with Navy Big Game, Hitman Absolution and Tomb Raider.

Navy Big Game

So, it seems I left some details out earlier. What the Navy was here for was actually to promote a gaming competition. They will still be releasing a game next year, but nobody could really tell me exactly what it would be about.

They would not let us record the presentation. The presentation begun with a 5 minute ad for the Navy, and was followed up by a Petty Officer speaking on how video game skill can be applied to work in the Navy.

This presentation concluded with a team of two Seamen and two American professional gamers playing four Australian competition winners in Halo. The outcome doesn’t matter, but I gathered from the post-match interview with the Americans that the RAN had flown the two professional gamers to Australia for this, and given them VIP treatment.

There will be a follow up article on this event, but it seems odd that the RAN is attempting to target the gamer market for recruitment.

Hitman Absolution

The audience was treated to a display of one of the more excellent series to be released in the last ten years. One key attraction of the previous titles were the fact that the player could choose how they went about their missions. This title will be no exception.

We also saw the introduction of a “contracts mode”, whereby the player can essentially create their own missions and share them with the community. This came in response to players of the previous title posting AARs involving the assassination of random characters in hilarious ways. This kind of reflection on the user base is most welcome, and something that more titles should be doing.

Verdict: Get excited! If previous titles were anything to go by, this will be infinitely better than the newest Splinter Cell: more rewarding, more challenging, and generally fun.

Tomb Raider

I’ve saved the best for last here. This won “Best in Show” at E3, and I can see why.

The new Tomb Raider is in fact a prequel, placing the gamer in the shoes of a young Lara Croft, before she had her talents. The old action-adventure elements have not been lost, but some horror and RPG elements have been added.

What stood out was the fantastic scripting, the self-awareness of the title, and the thoughtful storyline. No doubt, there was a large element of fan-service, with plenty of T&A – but that’s always been a part of the Tomb Raider franchise.

If I could pick at one thing, from the demo we were given, it appeared that a lot of the events that happened were not under the control of the player. Random awful things seem to just happen to Lara Croft, and taking that control out of the player’s hand constantly could detract from how fun the game turns out to be. That said, it is a key element of the horror genre, and it has a substantial market.

Verdict: Look forward to this. A classic title, reanimated from a couple of awful films. Tomb Raider: Phoenix.

5:00pm – Tomorrow, look out for a couple of interviews with Australian production studios, as well the promised wrap-up on cosplay.

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