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.

NBA 2K18 Review (Xbox One)

So here we are, the latest instalment of the almighty NBA 2K series, and this years cover star is Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics. More importantly Steve Adams is as prominent as anyone in game, especially if you follow the Oklahoma City Thunder as your team.

As usual fans of NBA 2K will already be all over this and enjoying the premier basketball title available today. As for new comers to gaming or basketball games prepare to be overwhelmed with options, game modes, terminology and shoes.

Overwhelmed in a good way that is.

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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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Dishonored: Death of the Outsider Review, (Xbox One)

The Dishonored games are arguably the best stealth titles created in recent years. I actually struggle to think of any other stealth game series that allows players to move so fluidly through open levels and allows them the freedom to take on levels in interesting or unpredictable ways. The five year journey Arkane Studios have taken us on is coming to a close and to put a bow on the story of Corvo, The Princess, Duad and the all-important Outsider…is Billie Lurk.

Billie Lurk has actually been a constant throughout the Dishonored universe, first appearing in a very minor way in the first game. She is in fact Dauds (The man who killed the Empress in the first game and was the lead in ‘The Knife of Dunwall’ DLC) second in command, and later under an alias of Megan Foster, captained the Dreadful Whale, helping Corvo and/or Emily through Dishonored 2. She is an interesting protagonist for this stand alone DLC as she is neither good or evil, Billie is just a lethal product of a harsh world. She is probably best described as a career mercenary with no loyalties – except for one, the killer Daud – the legendary ‘Knife of Dunwall’.

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Ark: Survival Evolved Review (Xbox One)

It seems like Ark has been around for ages thanks to the ‘Game Preview’ phase it has been through on the Xbox. I gave it a go several months ago but thanks to its early build issues didn’t give it much of a fair go.

Now with the release candidate version up and running it is time to see what being dropped on a beach in your undies is actually like. Just make sure you have plenty of time to sink into Ark.

It is huge and needs considerable time invested to really enjoy, and remember until you have got some footwear watch out for dinosaur poop.

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Senran Kagura – Peach Beach Splash!, PS4 Review

Or to give it a real intro “PEACHY BEACHY SPLASHY!” according to the deep, gravelly voiced, shouty announcer.

The Senran Kagura franchise has been around a while, mostly known for fighting games centred around the Shinobi warriors of its cast list, who all happen to be Manga styled busty maidens. Presented in classic cel-shaded animation the ladies bounce through their fights and become more undressed as things go. Peach Beach Splash is no exception, apart from the setting of the narrative, which seems to have dragged the characters from the Ninja Schools for a summertime water pistol competition.

Its a paper thin excuse to get the ladies in bikinis and have them run around a Splatoon-esque arena game, but each to their own.

Peach Beach Splash is undoubtedly aimed at the Japanese market, that much is obvious, a culture that is not afraid to have fun with games in this vein without feeling uncomfortable of having to make excuses as to why the screen is suddenly filled with bouncing, yet tastefully covered cartoon boobs.

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Knack 2, PS4 Review

Game mascots have become the touchstones of each generation of Playstation consoles. The first Playstation had Crash Bandicoot, PS2 had …well a heap of them, Jak, Sly, Rachet and more, while the PS3 had the lovable Sackboy.

Playstation 4 has been out for almost 4 years but lacks a mascot character, perhaps Sony have seen fit for Knack to return in a sequel, to fill that illusive ‘Generation Mascot’ gap for the PS4.

PS4 launch title Knack had pretty mixed reviews, and was generally considered a bit of a let-down, especially considering the genius of Mark Cerny was directly involved in its creation. That said, many gamers, including KCs very own Richard, did in fact love the relic riddled adventure and probably thanks in part to these vocal few, we now have Knack 2.

Overall it’s a great game, however some qualification is needed as there is an audience I have in mind, ie: the younger gamer, that is likely to get the most out of this romp, especially if they intend to play Co-Op.

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Yakuza Kiwami, PS4 Review

During the last few months I have been playing a raft of PS4 exclusives that are remasters or remakes of deservedly beloved Playstation I.P. I recently reviewed Wipeout Omega Collection which was brilliant fun, I replayed The Last of Us: Remastered …for the 4th time. Now I have had the pleasure of diving into a remake of Yakuza 1, which was a Playstation 2 classic that I never actually got to play back in 2006.

Titled Yakuza ‘Kiwami’, it is a full remake of the original PS2 title, with new character models, environments, gameplay and Japanese voice over. For those new to the Yakuza series, think of a love child from a JRPG and a compact Grand Theft Auto. There is still the depth of character and plenty of side activities to do, but it doesn’t feature a large open world or vehicles.

It is set in Kamurocho, a fictional district within Tokyo, telling a story of the series long-term protagonist, Kazuma Kiryu. He’s a gravelly voiced, well respected sub boss and heavy hitter for the Yakuza. In Kiwami, Kazuma takes the rap for a murder to protect a friend and after 10yrs in jail he is released to find the Yakuza in turmoil.

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Agents of Mayhem, PS4 review

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it is part of where Volition/Deep Silver went with AoM, that said there’s a fair bit of imitation flattery going on too.

From the people that have offered up a few iconic hits in the Saints Row series comes another third person sandbox game, but this time with a twist and that twist appears to be the result of a hazy night out with Crackdown and Overwatch. The Agents themselves are an interesting array of characters or rather caricatures, each with their own signature moves, buffs, gadgets and skill tree. The Mayhem is the agency they work for while disposing of bad guys in flamboyant episodes of destruction.

Cue the action music and let the bad guys ham things up.

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Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, PS4 Review

The King of the action adventure genre has retired……Long live the Queen!

Nathan Drake and the Uncharted series have been at the centre of the Playstation universe for 10 years. Drake bowed out in Uncharted 4, so in the new Uncharted: Lost Legacy, fan favourite Chloe Fraser has taken up the leading role…….and she has smashed it!

Set not long after Uncharted 4, Chloe and Nadine Ross have reluctantly teamed up to find a rare Indian artifact, the Tusk of Ganesha. In a somewhat clichéd yet forgivable fashion, there is also ‘a baddie’ who too hunts for this treasure, to pay for his civil war. The 7-8 ish hour campaign is entirely set in India, amidst lush jungles and impressive ruins.

In a first for the Uncharted series, there is an open-world element. Ruins can be located and explored in any order by driving around in a 4WD jeep. There are three main temples that push the story forward and then numerous smaller sub-quest type ruins, which are up to the player to locate and explore.

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