EB EXPO 2017 – Liveblog

Observations from this year’s EB Games Expo.

11.10

Last day of the annual visit to EB Expo, kicked off in style with a quick early access and walk around the empty hall. A nice run of stands that suit the venue better than last year in Sydney. Most notable is the impressive Nintendo stand which mirrors their success this year with the Switch launch and solid catalogue of games.

11.16

Hands on with Super Mario Oddessy:

We beat the queue and got hands on with Mario on an empty stand, from ten minutes of demo it’s really obvious that this is a Switch killer-app. Throwing Mario into a multitude of Kingdoms, free roaming and full of activities.

The visuals are spot on and there is plenty of depth to get lost in, not forgetting the couch co-op where one player is Mario and the other is his ever useful hat. It’s fun, family friendly and will be under a lot of Xmas trees.

 

11.50

The Playstation stand was as usual filled with lots to do. VR furore may have taken a step back this year, but new titles like Inpatient were on offer and more importantly Gran Turismo. Yes, GT in VR, which incidentally blows away the Driveclub VR competition, even though I’m a fan of that.

Activision and Warner were present on stand, so CoD was on offer and we got to have some time hands on with the new Lego games. The next chapter of Lego Marvel Superheroes being the big draw card there, for all the titles they pump out the Marvel ones are way out ahead.

Being Human looks cool and the next Playlink games were on hand, but I had an age restricted plus one, so we gave it a pass.

13.05

After a quick and perhaps nasty snack it was time to hand out at Ubisoft.

Another strong stand, following their usual circular design. Assuming from above it matches the Ubisoft swirl logo.

The games:

FarCry5 – looking fantastic on a bank of PS4 Pros. More free roaming FPS action, set in a fictional US state and with a narrative not overly far from the world today it feels great and will certainly be a must have in atet post-Christmas wasteland.

Crew2 – More vehicles, better graphics and lots to do. The Crew was fun, the Crew2 expands on that.  In the wake of all the serious racers hit around now, its good to see a plain old vanilla arcade racer still has a place.

Assassin’s Creed Origins – Backed up by a wealth of historical detail the AC series has me back on board with this one. Having missed a couple of years I’m keen to get to grips with this. Running in Xbox 4K it looks very pretty indeed, apart from that the gameplay is unmistakable and offers up the excellent ‘tourist mode’ for people that just want to experience the knowledge that Ubi have accrued.

Another dancing title – well, let’s leave it there…

13.52

Hands on with Skyrim for the Switch.

Yes, its an old game that nearly everybody has played, but the Switch makes it attractive again by adding flexibility. Allowing you to play on etc mini screen or big screen, being able to take Skyrim wherever you go and being able to use a multitude of control methods, the most immersive being the twin joy con method where you can block and attack independently. That said, the rumble feature works wonders when you get down to some serious lock picking.

Certainly worth etc pick up, even if its while we wait for the VR version.

13.59

The Xbox stand covered a decent amount of space which was mostly split between Forza and Shadow of War.

Both titles look fantastic, the weather effects in Forza alone are worth the asking price and as for Shadow of Mordor – it’s more of the same only bigger, deeper and better. People that love the first game can’t go back after this.

Across the stand Player Unknown Battlegrounds made an appearance, as did Cuphead, Age of Empires and a smattering of Minecraft. No surprises there.

14.33

Retro Baby.

This Expo had a lot less floorspace compare to Olympic Park, which made it cosy and brought a few of the outdoor areas into the main floor.

One of which being the Retro Zone, stocked by Weird and Retro. This was a slice of gaming heaven with machines ranging from Space Invaders on an Atari 2600 through to Rouge Squadron on etc Gamecube. Spanning a lifetime of games each screen brought a memory back to life and I got to introduce Rufus to the joy of Dreamcast Soulcalibur and C64 Basic. Nothing like a bit of rose tinted joy amongst the megabits of today.

15.08

Overall this year’s Expo was smaller, but there was plenty to do. Stands had more presence and the venue felt fully used over the voids that Olympic Park offers.

As for showing there were lots of great new titles on offer, most of which will be in homes over the next 2 months. Around etc place everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves and there were a few sizeable queues for limited demos on exciting exclusives.

As ever the EB Store made a decent appearance, while not really feeling like a bargain hunt, it is always worth a trawl. We picked up a few Minecraft torches at a reduced price and there were still a good pile of SNES mini consoles stacked up behind the counter when we left.

This was a good show, it didn’t try to do too much and gave the consumers what they wanted. Although decent Cosplay was  bit thin on the ground today, maybe Sydney people just do it better.

The good news is that this year, I’m looking forward to next year a lot more.

Fifa 18, PS4 Review

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat and in cooler climates the Premiership is in full swing. Given that we are on the cusp of gaming’s very own silly season, what else is there to do other than give the annual Fifa update a run out and stretch those chilled calves of poster boy Ronaldo?

It’s actually a bi-annual update for us, having spent many years chasing the newness of these games recent times have seen skipping a year to be the best option. Often giving more impact to the fine tweaks and polishes that the developers so deftly apply.

Any given year Fifa offers up a solid package, content in spades as you play online, offline in various modes, being able to pick and choose contests, flex your management muscle, play as an individual and now the newly improved The Journey. Otherwise known as the Alex Hunter single player narrative, The Journey put you squarely in the boots of an up and coming youngster, forcing you to play in key games and make sound rational decisions for him with Mass Effect style choices over dialogue.

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WipEout: Omega Collection Review, PS4

Wipeout as a brand is synonymous with Playstation, first spinning up in PS One disc drives back in 1995. Finally some Wipeout love is hitting the PS4, but it’s not a brand new game. Unfortunately it’s a remastering of 2012s ‘Wipeout 2048’ for the Vita and ‘Wipeout HD + Fury’, circa 2008 from the PS3. That said, Wipeout: Omega Collection in 1080p and running at a silky 60fps on the PS4, makes this uniquely Playstation experience….. an absolute blast to play.

Wipeout is a high-speed-arcade-sci-fi-racer based around antigravity ships with shields which use weapon pick-ups to get an advantage on the racetrack. There are a wide selection of ships to be used with different strengths and speeds depending on the race mode being undertaken. Each futuristic manufacturer has a range of ships and these unlock as you level up. There is something along the lines of 50 ships and 25 tracks across all the remasters, with many of the original electronic soundtracks being cleaned up too for the PS4 release.

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Me and My Trico, PS4 thoughts on The Last Guardian

An awful lot has happened in the last nine years, especially to me.

Moved country (again), gained three kids, lost animals, gained animals, lost jobs, gained jobs, kept my kindred spirit happy, movies came and went, games came and went, I self-published books, wrote 4 screenplays that never won anything, fought off the daily black shadow of fear from the Big C and gave birth to this site.

Its been a ball, and in the middle of it all there was something I had to experience, something I yearned for year after year. Every Sony E3 presser I would sit and watch the internet like Batman waiting for Joker to pop up somewhere, I needed news, a whisper or even just a sign of life that Trico was still coming.

Trico, a legend amongst gamers – the product of Japan Studio and Team Ico, the powerhouse combo behind two of the most endearing Playstation experiences ever created and it was attached to the mysteriously titled The Last Guardian. Here are the 2009 and 2016 trailers.

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Skylanders Imaginators, PS4 Review

skylander_logoAnother year and another update to the Skylanders franchise, not something I was expecting early on in the year given that Infinity seemed to be dropping dead, Lego wasn’t flying off the shelves and Skylanders Superchargers, well, less said about that the better.

We could go into the whole Skylands is in trouble again now that Chaos has found another time bending way to be, er, nefarious. There’s not a lot of point in that really, it’s the same old thing just with a new gimmick. Last year the gimmick was vehicles, which on the face of it should have won the hearts and minds of fans everywhere. Only they didn’t, there was something annoying about Superchargers, maybe the fact that they had pretty much ignored everything Skylanders fans had worked for in Trap Team or maybe it was the lack of identity in the game that was a hodge-podge of ideas that never really gelled.

So, its 2016, Christmas is coming and its time to strap in for another run at saving Skylands. Imaginators is taking a new direction, it’s putting the player in charge of design and customisation. This is where Imaginators wins, big time.

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NBA 2K17, Xbox One Review

nba-2k17-cover

So, another year has passed and here we have the next NBA 2K coming our way. This year we have, um, Paul George on the cover. I know this because his name is also there. He plays for the Pacers, I know this because it is on his shirt. And I think his left elbow gives him trouble. Other than that, never heard of him. Makes me wonder why 2K don’t regionalise covers like the old Rugby games.

Chuck Steven Adams on the cover down here in New Zealand and I bet sales would go up. Surely there is top NBA players from most regions of the world to make this viable and even profitable for 2K. Just remember to send me a cheque from the increased profits.

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EB Expo16, Playstation Line Up

logo_eb2016There’s not really any other way to do this apart from dump a text heavy press release in the wild.

The Playstation Stand at EB’s Olympic Park Expo is going to be choc-full of hitherto untested joy, its like Christmas again.

Now – which screen will have The Last Guardian demo on?

PlayStation Brings Show Stopping Line Up To EB Expo in 2016

Players will have the chance to step into the immersive world of PlayStation®VR ahead of its highly anticipated launch on October 13 and be the first in Australia and to get hands-on with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Multi-Player

27 September 2016 – Sydney, Australia: PlayStation® Australia is giving gaming fans attending this year’s EB Expo the chance to experience the future of play and entertainment, with PlayStation®VR (PS VR) and PlayStation®4 (PS4™). The PlayStation booth will give fans a sneak peek of the upcoming, highly anticipated titles for PS4. Whether players want to enter the post-apocalyptic world and reclaim the ruins of a forgotten civilization with Horizon Zero Dawn™, or sit in the cockpit and rev an engine in DRIVECLUB™ VR, there is something for everyone.

ps4_ecosystemFans will also be able to get hands-on with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare multi-player before the Beta opens on October 15th on PS4. The spectacular line-up of games and hardware featuring on the PlayStation booth includes: PlayStation VR Powered by PS4, PlayStation VR is a virtual reality system that takes console gaming to the next level of immersion. Titles available include: ?

  • DRIVECLUB™ VR: Get behind the wheel and be transported to some of world’s most stunning locales, as this virtual reality edge-of-your-seat racing will test your skills and reflexes ?
  • Farpoint: Set off on a perilous journey into an hostile alien environment in Farpoint, available exclusively to PS VR ?
  • PlayStation VR Worlds: Step into PlayStation VR Worlds and journey through five unique and exclusive PS VR experiences ?
  • RIGS Mechanized Combat League: Set in the near future, you will pilot fast, large, heavily armed athletic sports machines in gripping matches held at incredible arenas around the globe ?
  • Until Dawn™: Rush of Blood: From the developers of horror survival title Until Dawn, strap yourself in for the most disturbing arcade-style rollercoaster ride you’ll ever take
  • EVE: Valkyrie™: Explore an intricate sci-fi universe like never before, where you will experience deep-space aerial dogfights and nerve-shredding tactical incursions ?
  • Batman Arkham VR: Immerse yourself in the Dark Knight’s Universe and redefine what it means to Be The Batman, exclusive to PlayStation VR ?
  • Call of Duty Jackal Assault: The first-ever Call of Duty PlayStation VR experience, will allow those at EB Expo to enter the cockpit and take control of a Jackal, the personal fighter jet in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare ?
  • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard: Prepare to be taken to a whole new level of immersive horror and terror with PS VR PlayStation 4

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The Playstation Eco-system, EBEXPO 2016

ps4_ecosystemThere’s a lot going on in the world of Playstation and VR is just the tip of it, for anybody with a vested interest then VR has to be intriguing – a next level jump to accessible gaming that raises the bar on immersion.

Personally I can’t wait, however I do find the VR label being a touch ambitious, not having had a hands on yet. My designated slot is 18:30 Friday…I understand the VR rig coupled with a headset will offer substantial ‘suspension of disbelief’ which will add to immersion, but I’d be more inclined to apply the VR badge to a full blown holodeck.

That said, I can’t wait.

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A day in the life of the #EBExpo15 (live-ish-blog)

EBLOGO2015It’s time for the annual mission to Sydney, an early start followed by a redeye flight, a few hours on the show floor and time to chat with some like minded people while poring over this years exciting new releases.

The plan is to hit this post up with a story of the day, so let’s see how it goes.

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2 Weeks and counting… #EBEXPO

EBLOGO2015Just under two weeks before the doors are flung open at Sydney’s Olympic Centre for EB Games and their now annual extravaganza. We might not have an event of E3 calibre, but its a great way to give the industry a pre-xmas hype right on the cusp of Silly Season, also known as the October to November release window.

With hands-on demos galore and the chance to spend time with the occasional developer the show is well worth a visit for anybody remotely interested in seeing what’s around the corner.

Latest press release follows and a few appetite whetting videos.

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