Eurogamer Expo 2010: Games roundup

I have no idea what these things were or what purpose they served, but they were very pretty.

This year’s Eurogamer Expo is fast becoming little more than a distant memory, so I thought it was about time to get the rest of my coverage out of the way (links to all Expo articles published by CG writers thus far can be found at the bottom of this article). I originally planned for each of these four games to have an article each but, for various reasons, I found that I had little to say about them. Those four games are Infamous 2, The Shoot, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, and the game I’ll start off with; Killzone 3.

Matt’s already said pretty much all that needs to be said about this game in his preview from the Tokyo Games Show, where he played it in 3D using PlayStation Move. I include it here because it was only available at the Expo via joypad control. I seem to have played the exact same demo, also in 3D. I have to say that the 3D in Killzone 3 is the most impressive I’ve seen in any game or movie so far; and I also have to say that if you enjoyed the first two Killzone games, you’ll certainly enjoy the next instalment – because it looks like being exactly the bloody same as its predecessors.PhotobucketI don’t know if this was perhaps due to the controls for the demo being hastily ported from Move to the joypad, but aiming with the thumbstick was floaty and imprecise. Worse still, there was no option in the menus to tighten things up. This will (surely?) be rectified in some way by the time the game hits shelves. It’s a shame, because the iffy controls masked the intentional accuracy issues with the weapons, which demanded players actually try aiming rather than adopt a ‘run and gun’ attitude.

PhotobucketI was really looking forward to getting a taste of Infamous 2. The first game certainly had its problems, but I loved it; in fact, I played it so much that I earned my first (and at time of writing, still only) platinum trophy. Imagine my disappointment, then, when the rather brief demo managed to pack in several elements that suggest a nasty case of Killzoneitis; that is, this might end up feeling more like an expansion pack than a sequel.

The demo starts off pitting you against a group of enemies imaginatively described as ‘swamp monsters’. I thought I recognised them as reused assets from the first game, until I realised they are in fact copyright infringingly close to Baraka from Mortal Kombat II. Anyway, you have a weapon to fight them off. Hang on; this guy can shoot lethal doses of electricity from his fingertips, and he needs a weapon? A melee weapon that looks for all the world like a cattle prod? Oh well.

The melee combat at least was surprisingly painless. What could easily have been random button bashing (which is what sometimes threatened to happen in the first game) turned out to be a smooth, directed experience. I had to swing the camera round now and again to keep track of the surrounding enemies, but I turned from enemy to enemy easily enough and had no trouble hitting my opponents rather than the empty spaces next to them. I always felt in control of the fight.

With the initial fight over, Cole is tasked with chasing a limousine through the city (something that caused two people in a row, presumably unfamiliar with the Infamous controls and superpowered parkour, to quit the demo before the end). As with familiar sequences in the first game this involved a mix of riding electrical cables, climbing up walls, and jumping/flying across rooftops. What I found particularly alarming about this was not the familiarity of the chase mechanic, but the staggering level of laziness on display regarding the city itself. The section in the demo at least is virtually identical to the first game’s city in every single way. Yes, it is the same city, but the plot device of The Beast’s wave of destruction should have been used to initiate more changes than a few fires and the odd bit of collapsed masonry. Hell, I even had enemies firing at me that were saddeningly similar to the gas mask toting goons of the final section in Infamous 1.

The two style choices that are presumably meant to distance this game from the prequel are 1) STUFF BLOWING UP AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY DOOOOOD and 2) Slow motion being used for kills and actions seemingly at random. Hmm, that could get annoying.

After catching up with (and being knocked off) the limousine, a heavily armed helicopter appears. This then triggers an into – the – screen chase away from the chopper, which can – I knew from watching others play – be cut off by tossing an electric tornado thingy earlier than the game prompts you to do so. With the helicopter destroyed in spectacular fashion, you’re encouraged to wreak general death and destruction and then… the demo ends. Little was revealed, but what was shown wasn’t very encouraging.

PhotobucketThe Shoot is due for release in just a few weeks, and is basically a lightgun game for PlayStation Move. The Move controller works well as a lightgun in the bit of plastic provided at the Expo, but The Shoot isn’t perhaps the best game to showcase this use of the peripheral. It doesn’t do much wrong; but it doesn’t do much right, either.

The game is based around the idea of making a movie, giving the title The Shoot a double meaning (fetch me a needle and thread, for my sides have split). Unfortunately, this idea of being in the middle of a film set is used as an excuse for hastily designed cardboard cutout enemies that slide out from behind pillars, and dangle from the ceiling on string. It’s like walking through an army assault course made by the Blue Peter team. There was a boss that was more like a huge walking robot that shoots rockets, but still.

All the clichés that make a lightgun game what it is are present and correct; innocent targets to avoid shooting, bosses with specific weak spots to destroy, projectiles to shoot before they reach you, headshots are rewarded with more points than body shots, etc etc etc etc.

The game seems to be narrated by an overexcitable American, the sort of person who would scream with delight if he saw you open a bag of crisps by yourself. It’s a cheap looking lightgun game; you already know if you want to buy it or not.

PhotobucketI didn’t even know Skyward Sword was at the Expo until I arrived; Nintendo waited until the last possible second to confirm their lineup of games (which was surprisingly short). All three days of the Expo saw a permanent queue outside a black, curtained booth from which a few small bits of cardboard with the Skyward Sword logo hung on bits of string. I was convinced that, rather than a demo pod, this booth contained nothing more than a burly Nintendo employee who would hold a gun to your head for ten minutes growling ‘Tell them it was brilliant. Tell them it was brilliant!‘ into your ear. Sadly, this was not the case.

The demo starts “near” the beginning of the game, and was on a timer. I only got about ten minutes of play, which makes any valuable judgement on the game completely impossible. This is because 1) The game is so far from release, this section could change completely – or disappear – by that time. 2) It’s a Zelda game, which means the final product will contain dozens of hours of gameplay, and 3) Trying to guess exactly what Nintendo are going to do with anything is a quick and easy way of making yourself look very foolish indeed. I’ve spent most of this article moaning and, even though I love Zelda games, I have no intention of stopping now.

The game was demoed with the MotionPlus attached, but it seemed entirely unnecessary. Your sword swinging motions aren’t mimicked on – screen; in the demo at least it’s the same up/down, left/right slash limitations as in Twilight Princess. Using the bow and arrow was easy and fun however, even if that too seemed to have no use for the MotionPlus. You aim with the remote and, whilst holding the C button, pull back the nunchuk as if pulling back on a real bow. Releasing C releases the arrow – easy.

My biggest problem in the demo was the weapon wheel. Every time I wanted to change weapons, I had to hold down B to bring up this slightly fiddly contraption to choose my deathdealer. This was in realtime too, which was particularly irritating during the boss fight at the end, with a huge scorpion for some reason covered in eyes (though I got timed out before my inevitable victory). Again however, there is so much time left until release, this (and hopefully, the lack of manual camera control) will be fixed before then.

When faced with a door with a huge eye, my Zelda instinct told me to shoot it with an arrow; but this did not work. The demo pod babysitter told me that what I needed to do was to hypnotise the eye by making a circular motion with my sword, then to jump forward and slash it while it was dazed. There was nothing in – game to even hint at this, but as the game isn’t due for release… etc.

So you can surely see now why I’m not dedicating a whole piece to this game. Things that almost certainly won’t change between now and release day are the graphics (competent, but no better than Twilight Princess) and the sense of familiarity that pervades the entire series (forests, climbable vines, skeleton and shrubbery based enemies, ocular weak points, heart pickups, etc). I know little more about Skyward Sword after playing it than I did when it was first announced; but I still feel oddly grateful for the privilege.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution preview

Crysis 2 preview

The Witcher 2 preview

GoldenEye preview

Rage preview

Bulletstorm preview

Dragon Age II preview

Rock Band 3 preview

Donkey Kong Country Returns preview

Gran Turismo 5 preview

Gears of War 3 preview

Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit preview

Paul Wedgwood (Splash Damage CEO) interview

Ed Stern (Brink lead writer) interview

Tim Willits (Creative Director for Rage) interview

Alex Evans (co – founder of Media Molecule) interview

Yuji Naka interview

Grumpy Gurevitz +1 at Eurogamer Expo 2010

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Written by Luke K

He plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He’s the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value.

He doesn’t have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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