Eurogamer Expo in Leeds. The Expo forms part of the London Games Festival.
Apart from a conference that I had the chance to attend a couple of years ago while working for Gamestation the event in Leeds was my first proper taste of a gaming expo. And I forgot to take my camera! (The Googlephones camera is nothing to shout home about...).
Enough of all that...what did I get to play?
Left 4 Dead 2: 360
EA had quite a number of L4D2 pods for folk to play. The demo they had on display was in fact the one that's just hit Xbox Live today, allowing gamers to play part of the 'Parish' chapter.
As demos go, it was pretty good. It showed off the new melee weapons, such as the frying pan and the machete, as well as introduce 3 new special infected, The Spitter (who spits green acid slim), The Jockey (who jumps on your shoulders, which the camera pans out to display him happily tearing away at your head) and the Charger (who..well..charges at you, at great speed). All of the original special infected were present, although, and maybe its just me, but the Tank didn't seem quite as hard as he used to be!
When all is said and done however, it is Left 4 Dead, with added bits. Not that it's that much of a bad thing.
Heavy Rain: PS3
For me definitely the game of the expo. I hadn't read or seen much on this title, apart from knowing it was very story driven, giving gamers opportunities to change the course of the story.
The demo on display was actually 2 separate demos. The first had you playing as a private detective, Scott Selby, which had you having to talk down an armed robber who is trying to hold up the shop that you're in. For the second part you play as an FBI Agent, Norman Jayden, who needs to interrogate a suspect called Mad Jack. In the full game their are a further 2 playable characters, a journalist called Madison Paige and an architect, Ethan Mars.
Both parts of the demo showed off Heavy Rain's control system. The interactive scenes, as well as the combat works by pressing the correct buttons/moving the analogue sticks in the direction that appear on the screen. Failure to press the correct button when needed leads the scene into a slightly different direction. As an example, during a combat scene involving Norman you have to push the right analogue stick to the right to dodge an attack, which if you fail to do in time carries on the fight scene. If however you correctly press the stick in the direction displayed on screen the combat ends quicker. At certain stages you'll be required to choose what you'd like to say, which again can change the course of that particular scene.
Something I learnt after returning home after the Expo, is that its possible, if you fail to a scene and in turn the character your playing as dies, then the story will carry on, changing to one of the other characters and in turn changing the story from then on to reflect the fact that one of the games characters has died.
The game, graphically, looks fantastic. I'm a big fan of heavy story driven games, and how the story can change quite dramatically depending on what you do in game is awesome. I look forward to playing the full retail copy of this early next year.
Monster Hunter: Wii
From Heavy Rain, which was my favourite game of the day, to the other end of the spectrum with the new Monster Hunter on the Nintendo Wii.
I know that graphically, the Wii isn't great, and the hardware will never let it be as great the other home consoles, but..well..oh dear... Your weapons will happily pass through whatever your attacking, the environments look bland while the enemies don't seem to be all that interested in attacking you.
The combat seems bland, although in all honesty who knows which buttons did special attacks.
I didn't actually play Monster Hunter, seeing Ben play it was enough for me.
I enjoyed a quick go on Red Steel 2 (Wii), the combat works really well (I didn't really get into the first Red Steel, but on my few minutes of playing the new title, the controls seem to be more refined) and its new graphical style works very well on the Wii, maybe even going as far as saying one of the graphically best Wii titles I've seen thus far.
Star Trek Online (PC) was a bit of a surprise, as its yet to enter its closed beta. It's early days for Cryptic's new MMO, and while the flying around in space seems fine, it's the wandering around on foot that needs the most work. Animations and its control scheme both need looking at, however as stated, it's yet to even enter its closed beta, so plenty of time to sort out any issues with the early build. On a side note..it would have been good to have a rep from Cryptic on hand, as it isn't the easiest game to pick up and get into.
Assassins Creed 2 (PS3) looks as good as the first. A lengthy demo was on display. Hopefully the new gameplay elements such as swimming and the use of Da Vinci's experiments will help to avoid the downfall of the first title, having each assassination playing out just like the one before it.
God of War 3 (PS3) also had a large demo on display. If you've played the previous God of War games, you know what to expect...only with stunning visuals, and more dramatic set pieces. Ripping a cyclopes eye out? Only you Kratos!
They think its all over!
During the Expo, myself and Ben entered the day's Fifa 10 tournament, which was being played out on several lined up PS3s. I had a feeling we'd both have to play each other in the first round, however this wasn't the case.
The prize was a big fancy Sony sound system, which I'd have struggled to get home on the train (but you don't think about these things at the time!).
Before we sat down for our first round matches, me and Ben both agreed to something very important... If we both, somehow, made it into the final, he'd choose Major League Soccer side the K.C. Wizards, while I'd play as Crewe Alexandra. Perhaps we were setting our sights a little too far into the future, but we felt it was an important decision to make.
Anyway, during the setup of the first round matches, my opponent (who hardly spoke a word) went with Barcelona. Although tempted to go with Crewe Alex, I went with Arsenal. Ben's opponent also went with Barcelona, while Ben himself went with Russia (apparently they are a really good side in Fifa, I'm taking his word for it).
How did we fare you ask? Ben sadly lost 2-0, with a goal being scored in each half, with only a handful of chances. And me? My opponent, although slow to start (I really should have scored in the first few minutes) scored twice in the first half, before adding a third in the second half.
I'm used to playing Fifa on the Xbox 360, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!