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.

XBOX ONESIE – Yes, it’s for real and I kind of want one.

Not content with offering the ultimate entertainment and gaming access via the new Xbox One S console, available in 500GB and 1TB versions from today, the team at Xbox Australia has now turned its hand to the world of fashion design, working with some of the country’s biggest film, TV, gaming and sports fans to release their first collection known simply as the ‘Xbox Onesie’. 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.

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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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Valiant Hearts Review (Xbox One)

VH_packNext year it will be 100 years since the horrors of The Great War took place across Europe. Over 9 million combatants dead. And did the world learn from this? Nope, 20 years later we organised a sequel! Bloody mankind, you have to wonder sometimes.

Anyway, after the slew of games based on the horrific events of war comes Valiant Hearts. A side scrolling puzzler with a leaning to actually teach players historically accurate facts, while enjoying a great game in the freedom and safety given to you by the men and women who were killed in the war.

Lest We Forget. Continue reading

July, August – round up.

Its been a modest while since the last review post here and I can only apologise, its been a funny few weeks. The site has been besieged by intermittent service issues that are now resolved, the release and hype calendar seemed to have a big hole in and there were some personal writing projects to attend to that took priority.

However, it’s September already! Time to look back at the reviews that never actually made it to the site. Continue reading

Sacred Citadel Review (PC)

As a self proclaimed hero of less favourable RPGs Barrie’s on a mission to a Sacred Citadel.

Anyone who knows me will attest to my love of Role Playing Games, even ones that don’t get much love from the general public. Now the Sacred series has been no different, I think I have owned all versions of the original Sacred right through to the ‘Gold’ release, and Sacred 2 on the Xbox 360 is one game I have been meaning to return to for a while. And now with the up coming Sacred 3 not too far away SouthEnd Interactive and Deep Silver have delivered us Sacred Citadel, a prequel of sorts for Sacred 3. But beware, this side scrolling action game is a far cry from the Sacred games you may have played in the past. Bad for RPG fans wanting a fix back in Ancaria, but good for anyone who is looking for a ‘Golden Axe’ style brawler. Continue reading

The Cave Review, XBLA – Chris Leggett

“Chris Leggett “our man in Seattle”, tries his hand at some Doublefine spelunking in The Cave.”

Point-and-click adventure games have fallen from favour somewhat, largely owing to their reliance on a seemingly archaic control interface. One of adventure-gaming’s great minds, Ron Gilbert (Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion), has attempted to apply a more modern framework to the genre’s trademark puzzle-laden foundations in The Cave.

Set in a talking cave that also – bizarrely and humorously – serves as the game’s narrator, The Cave tells the tale of seven adventurers from different walks of life and even different periods in history. These interesting and varied characters (from which the player must select three) seek the cave’s secrets to learn about themselves and who they will become. What’s particularly amusing is that the player also learns a great deal about each of them as their stories progress. There’s a certain dark humour at play, and things are almost never as they first appear…

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Guardians of Middle Earth, XBLA – Guest Reviewer

Who better to review GoME than somebody that grew up with NZ’s Hobbiton in his backyard? Chris Leggett gets stuck in.

Some genres reside almost exclusively on PC largely for control-scheme reasons. The real-time strategy (RTS), for instance, rarely strays from the realm of the mouse and keyboard. While Halo Wars made an admirable attempt to do for console RTS what Halo: Combat Evolved did for first-person shooters, it just didn’t quite get there.

But what of the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) – a genre born from player-created mods of real-time strategy games? Ironically, it turns out that, despite the failings in the translation of RTS to the humble console, this sub-genre seems to make the transition fairly well. Continue reading

Dust: An Elysian Tail, XBLA Guest Review

Kiwi ex-pat Chris Leggett takes a retro-esque spin through time with the product of a modern bedroom developer.

It’s funny how, every now and then, a new IP can evoke feelings of nostalgia. As game design marches in new directions, leaving those classic, formative styles in the dust, some developers opt to revisit and tweak the winning formulas of old.

This is true of Humble Hearts (essentially one man by the name of Dean Dodrill) and its recent XBLA game, Dust: An Elysian Tail, which layers contemporary gameplay elements atop an old-school, Metroidvania foundation to mixed results. Continue reading