Eurogamer Expo - More Hands on ThoughtsPlatforms: Sony PlayStation 3 | Microsoft Xbox 360 | Nintendo 3DS | Nintendo Wii | Nintendo Wii-U | PC | Sony PSP Vita
We at The Digital Fix were lucky enough to attend this month's Eurogamer Expo and we already have some thoughts on a few of the biggest titles around here. However we were able to try out many more and our thoughts can be read below.
Ninja Gaiden 3
Ryu facing up to one his many challengers
The surprise of the show, right here. It was not one of the most popular games at the expo, nor is it one of the perceived triple-A titles coming out in the near future. This kind of excitement (and significantly larger queues) was reserved for titles such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3 and The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim. But Ninja Gaiden 3 was remarkably good fun, the graphics were high-end with a large dollop of blood and gore apparent during the varied killing animations, and the combat mechanics were as you would expect from one of the most revered hack 'n' slash series of this generation. The responsiveness of Ryu was superb and there were many moves at his disposal ensuring he as a character was very easy to manipulate. These ranged from using the sword, to summoning a fire dragon all the way through to hammering foes with a flaming arm...there were many ways to dispatch the bad guys. It did seem very manageable from a difficulty point of view (although others playing were flailing and failing in equal measure!); there is at least two tiers of difficulty this time around which should make the game more accessible than previous instalments. Originally only a curiosity when passing at the expo, this has jumped to the top of the must have lists of any gamer interested in God of War, or Bayonetta. The PS3 version was tested and the game will be available on Xbox 360 and WiiU as well. Release date is TBA.
Ridge Racer Unbounded
Drifting. Drifting never changes?
Everyone likes a bit of Ridge Racer. This new episode, due out in 2012, is not being developed by Namco Bandai this time (they are publishers) but instead Bugbear Entertainment. It's a new take on the age-old driving game which has taken inspiration from Split Second and Blur - you increase power by drifting and can unleash that power to take out another driver, or 'destroy' a section of the landscape leading to a shortcut around the track. Most scenery is destructible throughout. It's an intriguing game - entertaining and graphically superior with a nice idea around it, but the drifiting doesn't feel right and the premise seemed not to have been fully exploited (too few chances to destroy the world or others). These concerns could be ironed out in-time though - the demo clearly stated it was not representative of final quality and the release is a while away. Ridge Racer: Unbounded is promising enough to keep an eye on but not mind-blowing at this stage, the Xbox 360 version was tested but it will also be released on PS3.
The Adventures of Tintin
Get involved in one of Herge's adventures of Tintin!
You can play as Snowy! The dog! Brilliantly cute and with lovely graphical styling comparable to Herge's books, Tintin is the game of the film of the book and involves a lot of 2D side-scrolling platform action, with very comedic and bubbly take-downs of your aggressors, as well as plane flying sections and co-op play also. It looks great fun and the characters were somewhere between Mario and Sackboy in terms of the feel and control the player had over them. If it's a PSN title with a decent price-point it will surely be a no-brainer; give it a retail release at full-price and more time would be needed to make a recommendation. The PS3 version was tested and the game will be released on all Xbox 360, PS3, 3DS, Wii and PC Christmas 2011.
Batman Arkham City
A Batman Take-down
A popular title of course, but one which was available to play with minimal waiting late in the day. A superb demonstration of how to ensure you maintain all that is good from the first game and bring new things into the mix - with excellent execution - leading to further success. Catwoman was a playable character, the Arkham vista from up high was stunning in terms of level of detail (a feature throughout the play-test) and the draw distance, and the fighting system / Batman etc. just felt as tight as you'll remember from Batman Arkham Asylum. A must have for fans of the first, expect this title to get better reviews (be sure to check The Digital Fix closer to release) and sales on the back of the extra sense of event added with the move to a broader canon and environment. The Xbox 360 version was tested and that, plus the PS3 version will hit shelves October 21st, with the PC version following in November.
Is this the big set-piece?
Only playable in MP form, and seemingly familiar to the second game, Uncharted 3 was covered in detail as part of the developer's sessions where Nolan North - the man who plays Nathan Drake (and pretty much any character in any game you can think of!) talked, answered questions from the crowd and described his experiences playing Drake, with a focus on this new title. A previously unseen level was shown to the crowd and the response was complete joy, as we watched somebody playing from start to end(?) of a chapter in the game...suffice to say it is not possible to describe this due to a request from Naughty Dog, but it looks every inch as if Uncharted 2 will be equalled, or more likely exceeded, in terms of visual quality, game mechanics and perhaps most importantly for this IP, the narrative. Roll on its release on November 2nd, exclusive to PS3.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Link fighting some...thing
It's The Legend of Zelda, what more do you need to know? Well, it looked one of the most visually arresting Wii titles to date with its graphics somewhere between the reality of Twilight Princess and the cel-shading of The Wind Waker. Motionplus was used to great effect and Link is very controllable, even if during the demo (a dungeon in this instance), it was very difficult to get used to the controls such that they felt natural. It did beg the question of whether or not this would be sustainable throughout a whole playthrough. A more standard control scheme is expected but no button was mapped to the sword and so it is not possible to comment on the more usual controls. We have until 20th November to wait for this to arrive on our Wiis.
The PS Vita Home Screen
After standing in line for a very long time it was possible to go hands-on with Sony's latest portable hardware - and a stunning piece of kit it appears. The game showing off the wares was Uncharted: Golden Abyss and it looked as good as the PS3 versions of the game on the stunning 5 inch multi-touch OLED screen. The methods available to the user in order to control Drake were many, from swiping to get him to climb, touching where you wanted him to jump too, or tracing the arc of the grenade you wanted to throw. For this particular title things seemed well synced between console and game and if you are considering a Vita, this game is a must-buy. The console itself did not disappoint. It did everything Sony has promised and with no issues apparent in the experience. There was no chance to try alternative titles (each system had a different game but you were only able to test one) nor the XMB in order to see all the other things we're expecting (trophy support etc.). This appears the truest challenger to Nintendo's handheld crown (alongside Apple and the whole mobile gaming crowd) for sure, and will be attractive to many come it's UK launch in 2012.
There of course were a great many more games, some of which were possible to try and others for which time just ran out. Binary Domain, a squad based shooter was disappointing, Inversion had some nice ideas but more play is needed to really get an idea of its quality, Dark Souls was suitably lumbering given your avatar was a knight in very heavy armour and although the skeletal soldiers were easily beaten, the fire-breathing dragon proved as difficult as one might expect from the successor to Demon's Souls, whilst Super Mario 3D Land looked like a 3D version of Mario 64.
The state of the current gaming landscape is awe-inspiring. The quantity of titles in development and due for release in the near-future is staggering, with the quality reaching what must be an all-time-high, for sure in terms of consistency across the board. Now is a great time to be a gamer - there is something for everyone and much more besides.