So how did the big games fare at the expo? Was it all the same over and over again or were there any gems to be found? Read on and see if the wait for Tomb Raider, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch and the other big ones are worth it.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
I have longed to play this game and it fulfilled my expectations, both the negative and positive ones. On one hand it is very beautiful and living. It really felt as watching an anime movie á la Spirited Away and the likes. What I didn’t like though, on the other hand, is the action/movement system when going between the major game areas. You move around on a half-zoomed out world map which looks quite nice, but the enemies they are shown as generic “monsters” or other parties walking around on the map, and the worst thing is when you get attacked by one of these monsters, the real attackers doesn’t resemble the thing you saw on the world map at all.
I have never really understood this part of the Japanese role-playing games. It was very nicely done in Chrono Trigger, because there you at least saw the same characters on the map as the ones you had to fight with. In Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, there were no resemblance at all between the enemy that engaged me on the world map view compared to the one that I get to fight against in the action view. I must insist that the technology now-a-days is good enough to handle complex character textures even on the smaller world view, so I don’t understand why they do it like this. I remember this action type from Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, but that games is around 25 years old and the action/engagement solution in J-RPGs should have evolved, but apparently no… And one last complaint, sorry for that, is that the fighting system itself is also quite chaotic. I thought it was like turn-based strategy; i.e. I first make a turn and decide what I will do, then the enemy, but it was not exactly like that, just almost. It felt like a half-mix between real-time and turn-based fighting. I hope for the next game in this genre, that they will go for more direct action (like in the Zelda games) or keep it strict turn-based.
I anyway think this is a great game, because the graphics and the game world is very beautiful and the cut scenes is amazingly animated. I will surely buy it and I guess after a while I will get used to the action and movement system. Hoping for a demo, so I can try it a bit more. In the expo you could only play for ten minutes.
This re-boot of the Tomb Raider series looks very promising. I never really liked the old games; not sure why but they never got to me. The short demo I got to play at the expo let me see the beautiful views of an ocean shore with a ship wreck and a forest where you have to hunt down a deer to eat. It is hard to not say too much about how great the game looks. The character moves quite naturally, and the actions you do, for example hunt with a bow is also animated nicely.
It feels as if playing a movie, which is not a bad thing, although sometimes it felt I didn’t have full control of what happened on screen. It boils down to a cool adventure game, which I highly look forward to!
Doom 3: BFG Edition
I have always been a Doom fan, but Doom 3‘s game world was so dull. The enemies was also not horrific or scary enough, they felt a bit “plastic” compared to the old games’ enemies which were very scary to meet, even though they had much bigger pixels.
On the expo I got to play a 3D version of Doom 3: BFG Edition. In short, it didn’t add much, except that I got a small headache… I hope Doom 4 will be back to basic, with grittier and more scary world and enemies.
This game has been talked about a lot (and have already been released now), and I was also quite hyped about trying it out. But, as you might have guessed, it kind of let me down. The game world sure was a bit cool, one of the main designers is the same guy who designed the superb world of Half-life 2, but it felt a bit glossy somehow. I also have a problem with the violent part of the game. I have to say though, that I didn’t play it too long and hope that I can play a regular demo of it at sometime, to give it a more fair judgment.
Resident Evil 6
Another disappointment, unfortunately. After seeing the trailers I didn’t knew what to expect, some showed action packed scenes with bullets flying but some actually had a few scary parts and enemies in them. When I actually played the demo at the expo I understood I had been correct in my “fear” about the game.
What was great in Resident Evil 4 and quite good in Resident Evil 5 was all gone in this game. The movement was really unnatural, the enemies and beasts you faced were not scary, some were on the zombie-side and some were just not scary at all. My wish is that it at least is good on co-op, because that is where Resident Evil 5 shone the most. It has to wait until the price drops though….
I played this game too little to give a fair saying about it. I played it together with someone else at the expo, and it felt cool, with the different graphic style and the quite open game world. Hoping to try out a demo or the whole game soon, I think I can like it, but have to play more to be sure….
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Finally a game that exceeded my expectations! Since I hold the old XCOM games (the two first ones) among the best strategy games ever, I was bit doubtful when they started to talk about a re-make. Actually playing it at the expo showed me wrong, and put a big smile on my face.
The scenario is the same, you are the commander of a secret task force that has the “small” duty to save Earth when aliens invade. You have a base, where you perform research, train your troops and other tasks. The other setting is the actual action strategy game setting, where you command a small group of troops. It is entirely turn based, which I love in this kind of game. This mean you can think as much as you want for each movement or action your troops performs. He or she can just do some small things each turn, such as move a bit, shoot, and so on. This makes is very important to play your moves right, so you are not caught behind when the aliens start to get close to you.
If you succeeds in a mission on the ground, you can take some alien artifacts with you to the base, where researchers will use them to upgrade your equipments and find information about the invaders. This gear and information will play crucial roles later, when the aliens grow stronger and more complex.
This completes my Eurogamer Expo 2012 reporting. I have to say it was a good expo, but not as good as last year though. There were a bit too many disappointments and not too many awesome moments… The highlight have to be trying out XCOM: Enemy Unknown, it really exceeded my expectations and it will soon be a part of my game collection! Some of the indie games were also great, especially Death Ray Manta (DRM), The Button Affair and Dream.
It was also funny to go around the Retro section (although, strangely enough I didn’t play any retro game, no time…), and the shop section, where I bought some gaming related stuff. Hoping for an even greater Expo next year!