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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

EB EXPO 16, LiveBlog

logo_eb2016It’s 2016 and we embark once more to Sydney’s Olympic Park (maybe Brisbane next year guys?).

This should be an interesting collection of thoughts as the day goes by in a blurry exhausted haze.

Remember to read from the bottom up.

 

09.54

PlayStation Stand EBExpo16

It’s been a long day so far, waking late and racing for a plan, 4 trains and now an hour into the show. I need coffee and bacon STAT.

First impressions, the show is loud and full of hands-on experiences as usual, but exhibitors do seem a touch thin on the ground. Sony have the majority of real estate with a heap of VR hands-on and queues to match, not forgetting CoD and Skylanders, as they brought Activision and partnered with Warner too.

With Battlefield 1 weeks away the absence of EA is noticeable, Ubisoft and Xbox have hefty stands while Namco/Square and 2k are present. 2K with their Mafia 3 inspired movie theatre.

Bethesda have a big Dishonored 2 showing, More on that later.

09.56

Hands on with Tombraider PS4.

Yes it’s been on the XB for a year, but this is the first time I have had a play and it look terrific. The weather effects (I was in a blizzard) are top notch and it feels very familiar to the recent reboot, amongst other third person leaping adventures.

My only concern after 5 minutes was Lara’s relentless internal monologue…

10.02

Farming Sim

Strangely quiet over here….

10.39

Popping Corn Theatre
Phil Spencer and Xbox presentation – imminent.

14.12

So, Phil Spencer the actual Head of Xbox came to Sydney and addressed the crowd. I have to admit initial scepticism, but the man sells a genuine story his focus is the community and exploring the best future for his brand.

I have to say I was won over by his no nonsense approach along with the rest of the crowd. The message is clear Xbox might not be launching into VR this year, but they are laying the foundations for the future.

The line up of recent and future games looks strong, Forza started the session along to the tune of “I don’t want to fall in love” – the game obviously has other ideas. It’s stunning and the social aspects or Blueprints that were demoed are a step up.

Follow that with an enthused showing of Dead Rising 4, even though it’s hard to forget the failings of the series back in my 360 days.

Gears of War looked shiny and exciting, returning to an older Marcus is the draw for me, but being without Xbox – it can likely wait.

As for the hardware, the recently released XboxS looks very nice in the flesh, more compact and sexy. However the chat was all about the Scorpio which will be raising the bar come 2017.

Now, where’s mister Spencer – I need to ask for an Xbox handheld…

14.20

Hands on with Steep.

image

Steep is a mountainous playground for thrill seekers in the snow.

What more do you need, the demo offered all types of the 4 sports on offer. Controls are pretty intuitive and the visuals are really quite breathtaking, if a little white.

I jumped onto a snowboard eager to relive some1080 style skills, which almost got there, but ended up being more of a Snowboard Kids wipeout.

I might not manage being the fastest on the snow, but love the Wingsuit and Paragliding for some nice views.

15.43

Driveclub VR hands on.

PlayStation Stand EBExpo16

Ok, managed to get into a quiet slot and jump behind the wheel of some Driveclub VR and it was awesome.

The depth of field is nice with a floaty 3D effect, the response time of the visor to the screen is good enough. Not forgetting this is a mass market product for the home. And the immersion just got me straight off the bat.

The race started and I was driving, really driving, while the VR and sound did a lot for that you have to credit the steering wheel and force feedback with som of it. Regardless, I’m so in – even with a minor problem. I am somewhat myopic and not wearing glasses with VR doesn’t work for me. As such my varifocals struggled to keep everything in focus, I may have to resort to contacts and that’s my excuse for hitting a few walls, even if I did manage to bash my way to the front and win.

VR 10 mins in? Yes please.

17.33

Skylanders Imaginators, making amends.

image

Had a play with Imaginators and while it may just another Skylanders game it is fair to say that they are bringing something really new this year.

Forgetting the vehicles of Superchargers, Imaginators lets you build your own Skylanders from hundreds of options.

So, the traditional figures are pretty much bunk. Time to throw Creation Crystals into the mix, but here’s the rub. Once you create a character it’s pretty much locked to that crystal, some people won’t like it, but I don’t mind. It makes you think about the strategy of building your ultimate Skylander and probably being priced around. .99 cheaper than the figures of 2015.

The crystals are elemental based and give access to base body types, then you can dress them up with unlockable skins and weapons. I like the system, it’s breathing life into the franchise. There will be Sensei figures that will add upgrades and experience to your creations, so there is still the need to gather some of the new batch plus you will be able to introduce your old characters too.

After that it’s a classic Skylands adventure, platform and smash and level up, with a few experience earning gizmos thrown in. In fact the selfie mode is more appealing than the Dead Rising one.

Back to Skylands? Yes please, sign me up.

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

Continue reading

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.

psvr_head Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Gauntlet: Slayer Edition, PS4 review

GNLT_HeaderSome titles will send gamers of a certain age into a misty stupor. Gauntlet is one of them, thirty or so years ago it was breaking new ground as a cash hungry arcade game. Allowing four, yes, four players to simultaneously charge around dungeons hacking, slashing and collecting gold. It was also noticeable for the audio cues the game would throw out, when a character was low on health for example.

The arcade game was one thing, but it was also not readily available to the masses, home computer adaptations soon were and it wasn’t long before playgrounds were awash with tales of legendary slaughter. My platform of choice was the Commodore 64, graphically not as flash as the Arcade, but near enough to keep the atmosphere and fun. Also, worth noting that the expansion ‘Deeper Dungeons’ was a game I played until the score meter hit its maximum and would go no further.

I digress, Gauntlet by tradition throws together four players in the guises of a Barbarian, Valkyrie, Wizard and Elf. The franchise has seen a few changes since its humble one-button beginnings, it wasn’t that long ago I played through an RPG-lite version in the previous generation of consoles. What Arrowhead have attempted here is to bring the series back more closely to its roots and it has succeeded in parts. What they have also created is something that modern players would expect in character progression and upgradeable skills.

GNLT03 Continue reading