Saturday, 8 October 2011

[Event] Post-Expo

Wowzers...what a weekend!

As expected, Eurogamer was a whole lot of fun. Between myself and Processor Mike we got plenty of gaming done, footage shot and people interviewed. We've been posting lots of videos over on, but I'll link an article which has all the different bits and pieces in one big post once all the videos are up.

So anyway, what did I enjoy most gaming-wise while down in London?

That award, goes to Final Fantasy XIII-2.

Yes..alright...XIII wasn't the greatest Final Fantasy game money can buy, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Perhaps it was the new Paradigm battle system, the characters, the set-pieces... I did miss the open-world feel of other FF titles however.

Using feedback from fans, Square have opened up the world in which XIII is set, as towns/hubs return to the series. The battle system returns, however this time its been tweaked to include the option of summoning some of the enemies you've previously beaten who can help you in various ways depending on your Paradigm. For instance some will dish out direct damage, while others may assist in healing. After a period of time, your new little assistant can unleash what can be best described as a 'Limit Break' attack.

Further into the demo I plunged and soon came across another new battle feature, Quick-time events (QTEs). During the boss fight I came across points where I'd have to implement quick button presses to cue an over the top attack, thus bringing more interaction and action to the games feature fights.

Lastly, I'll mention another new companion. Well...I say new...these little creatures have been a staple in most Final Fantasy games. It's a Moogle!

He follows you around, happily chatting away (although I admit, his voice could soon become a little irritating), dishing out advice and so on. He also has quite an important benefit, and its because Square have changed something else.

While in XIII enemies were visible, most enemies in XIII-2 aren't. They'll randomly appear while your walking between point A and point B. What your little Moogle does for you however, is give you a moment to quickly get an attack in before the fight commences, giving you a Preemptive attack. Personally, I preferred seeing the enemies out in front of me, but I can fully understand why they've made the fights more random like the Final Fantasies of old.

With the more open, less linear approach to the game and the random fights you can tell Square want to entice some of the older Final Fantasy players back into the series. Along with the further improvement to the battle system, this could well be the perfect sequel...fixing its predecessors core faults.

However, some gamers who were left with a bad taste in their mouth after XIII may not feel the changes made are enough, and instead see XIII-2 as a cheap sequel to a poor title.

Me? Hell, I can't wait.

During our weekend, we got to meet some fantastic people, some of which agreed to appear on videos with us (see I've got to give a shout out to Robin from Romino Games (the creators of Awesomenauts) for allowing us to interview him during the event. Hit this link for the video interview.

Another person I'd like to give a shout out to is's Johnny Minkley, who also allowed us to interview him. I originally met him briefly a few years ago at the last Eurogamer Expo to be hosted in Leeds. I spoke to him about my growing interest in video games journalism and he happily gave me some advice to help me along my way. Although he had a hectic event to run around, he still found the time to chat to us on camera, so thank you very much Mr Minkley! And if you click here, you can see what Johnny had to say about this years Expo.

I couldn't leave this post without talking a little about London itself. Man, that place is busy. Not a moment went by without a car honking its horn at another car, or a siren from a police car whizzing past. The pavements are just constantly crammed with people, and don't get me started on how busy the Underground is!

But, when all is said and done, I really enjoyed staying there for the weekend. While many people feel claustrophobic being surrounded by so many people, or frustrated by how busy it is, it all didn't really bother me. Perhaps if I lived down there and had to go about my daily business amongst the madness of London I'd feel completely different, maybe one day I'll find out.

Aside from my weekend in the capital, it's worth noting a week earlier I got to spend a few hours at GAMEfest at the Birmingham NEC. While I didn't get to play quite as many games at GAMEfest as I did at Eurogamer, I did get my mits on Zelda: Skyward Sword (which is looking very good, although the Nunchuck doesn't make for a great shield mechanic), Saints Row The Third (which is just, crazy...) and the fantastic Super Mario 3D Land.

Zelda Ocarina of Time is currently the only 3DS game I spend hours playing on so I lept at the chance to try out the latest Mario Kart and Mario land games. Mario Kart's visuals are incredibly sharp and the game plays as well as any of the other kart titles, but it was completely overshadowed by the other Mario game on display.

Super Mario 3D Land feels like the perfect combination of old school Mario Bros with Galaxy. The levels are fun and varied, the 3D works a treat and the gameplay is very addictive. It nods at some of the greatest moments of Mario games while still feeling completely original. It'll sell 3DS consoles, I have no doubt.

I also got to meet and have a chat with Xbox UK's community dude MrPointyHead (Dan Maher):

These couple of weeks have proved a few things to me, one of which is that I'll be skint thanks to all these videogames this Christmas!!

I did get to play a whole heap of other stuff, of which I've posted about on I'll post an article with all the Eurogamer content up once its all online.