The Eurogamer Expo rumbled to a halt on Sunday evening leaving the yawning halls of Earls Court safe again from the din of gamers rapt with their Wii Us, Indie Games Arcades and booth babes. In a few short days the Expo not only brought the latest crop of pew-carnivals to the masses (there were many, many shooters on show), but demonstrated the whip hand Kinect holds over the classic controller: using Kinect might be about as much fun as wrestling a rhino in heat, but at least it doesn’t give its users the flu.
Here are some select thoughts from the Thursday and Friday legs of the 2012 EGXP.
The Sound of Everybody Clapping
There is something I need to confess, I played maybe eight games this year. Certainly no more than nine. I’m not sure how this came to be, but I did find time to play Far Cry three times and Doom 3D twice. This is more than a little troubling. What I’m trying to say is this: anything that didn’t attract an obscene amount of attention attracted my attention (incidentally this is not the thought process through which I met my girlfriend).
And so my game of the show: Company of Heroes 2 (with Unfinished Swan a close number two).
I’m not the kind of person that should be allowed control of armies regardless of how small or how deadly those armies are (I’ve typed Big Daddy into the chat box of Age of Empires more times than I’d care to admit). So I particularly liked how Company of Heroes 2 had been subtly tweaked in lieu of the show so that no matter how shit you were at ordering tiny people to their graves, you were always awarded another cadre of chumps once the first lot had gone the way of Harrison Ford’s career post Indi 3. It’s that kind of forward thinking that makes playing the more complicated games at a mobbed expo less gruelling.
Unfinished Swan, though. Phwoar. I mean, I don’t know how elastic the concept is, but it’s a good concept.
The Sound of Some People Clapping
I cannot wait to play Tokyo Jungle. In June 2013.
Tokyo Jungle, for the uneducated, is a game that puts you in the metaphorical boots of a beagle (or some other animal) and then lets you wee, sex, fight and die in a Tokyo city bereft of stupid humans. It’s basically Stoke city centre on a Friday night but with creatures capable of conscious thought.
The game is every bit as good as it sounds which begs the question, why release it sandwiched between Borderlands 2 and FIFA? It’s Vanquish/Dead Space/Mirror’s Edge multiplied by the square root of NOT THIS SHIT AGAIN.
Meanwhile, The Button Affair is an endless runner with an end that has a story and foxy animations. You’ll die a lot but at least death looks cool. Look it up.
On a less indie note I enjoyed Far Cry 3, but then I’m that guy that thought Far Cry 2 was pretty good. After that I watched my friend play God of War: Ascension but I just felt so sorry for all the bad guys that I had to go eat a pizza and think happy thoughts.
The Sound of Nobody Clapping
I’m worried about you Tomb Raider. I’ve been very excited about a TR game that thrusts Lara to the forefront. The problem is, TR has an XP system and that’s an Uncharted-set-piece-sized problem in a game anchored by its story. The rift between gameplay and story is a tough one to close, we all know that, but are we even trying anymore? I don’t need a puddle-deep experience system to keep me interested. It was an odd choice of demo, too; the deer hunting scene from E3 hardly the most rousing. Or even arousing.
Finally, with my time at the expo drawing to a close, I had a play of Medal of Honor. I came away in a melancholy K-hole. A melankhole, perhaps. It’s a wretched old thing that is somehow something far worse than subservient. I don’t know what that is. I just know it’s not in the slightest bit pretty.
Queue of the Show: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
There’s obviously a delicious irony in having to spend an hour and a half doing fuck all before you’re allowed to play a Metal Gear game, and I promise you that irony was not lost on me.
I’m not sure how the queueing system was supposed to work. I’m only sure that it did not work. Here’s something: don’t bring a 30-minute long demo to an expo, especially if the first two words of your game’s title are Metal and Gear. If I’d pocketed a queen pound for every person playing Rising who hadn’t bought Bayonetta but had played Metal Gear Solid 4 while wanking into a sock with Solid Snake’s face stitched into the side, well I reckon I’d have been able to eat Oreo Milka until I was at least half way to dead.
God, it looks good though.
I believe it was the Company of Heroes 2 lady roaming the halls with a QR code plastered across her rear. I can’t be sure, but if I was any kind of real journalist I’d have skulked in and thrust my phone up against her behind to find out. That’s the kind of thing that gets grown men put behind bars, though, and I wasn’t getting paid nearly enough for that shit.
Following on from the QR drama, there were many shameless shut-ins taking full advantage of the one weekend a year they’re allowed out from their nimrod-caves by having their photo taken with the BBs. Embarrassing, certainly, and in the year 2012 quite sad, but the people asking to have their photos taken with the fully clothed women on the Lost Planet 3 booth were far, far more contemptible. NOBODY WAS ASKING FOR A PHOTO WITH THE PIZZA EXPRESS WOMAN. NOBODY WAS ASKING FOR A PHOTO WITH THE TUBE TICKET LADY. Are we assuming that any attractive female working at a games convention is there due to her biological makeup? Look at it this way. Imagine a stranger approaches your mother in the street, wraps his arm tight around her waist and takes a snapshot. Imagine, briefly, just how many games of Halo Reach you’d have to win before you were calm enough to go to sleep later that night.
Best Food: Oreo Milka
Saving the best ’til last. Cyber Candy preys on the vintage gamer stereotype; its hell-tent home to a nine-year-old’s fantasy banquet of sweets, chocolate and absolutely nothing resembling nutritional goodness. CC sells the kind of “product” that’ll turn your insides into a pulsating, vaguely alive 6-foot rendition of the U.S.G. Ishimura. The best of these surely illegal delights is Oreo Milka – a marriage made in hell and heaven at once, and a fast-track ticket to sugar intolerance.
I’m always impressed with how swimmingly the Eurogamer expo seems to run and I’m more than a little saddened that I made it to NONE of the glittering dev sessions. The line up this year was huge although I think, compared to last year, there were perhaps a few too many shooter them ups. We had Doom 3D and Medal of Honor and Far Cry and Halo and Gears of War and Warface and Black Ops 2 and Lost Planet 3 and Dust 514 and Battlefield Premium [lol] and Crysis 3 and they all seemed to take up a lot of room. But then, there was also Sim City and Hell Yeah! and XCOM and Just Dance and Unfinished Swan and Tokyo Jungle and Forza Horizon and Ass Creed 3. The decision to haul Rezzed out of Brighton was a great one – the opportunity to play Prison Architect and Hotline Miami again welcomed – and the indie showing was especially strong this year.
Bravo, again, to all involved. Bring on 2013.
[Look out for more Eurogamer stuff on the site and elsewhere from me over the next couple of days.]