Impressions from the Eurogamer Expo

Firstly, apologies for this post being a day late. I normally write on a Saturday and edit on a Sunday, but since I was in London all day Saturday, the schedule got pushed back a day. Saturday, September 29th was my fourth visit to the Eurogamer Expo in London, and the following post will detail my opinions on the games I had hands on time with. By nature I am not a note taker, so everything I write is from my memory.

Dishonored

I have been anticipating Dishonored for some time now, what with the creative director being Harvey Smith, the guy most associated with the original Deus Ex who isn’t currently making Disney games. As soon as I arrived at the Expo, I went to a developer talk on the game, but it was the hands on demo that really sealed the deal for me.
The game is a first person perspective game, though I hesitate to call it a shooter. The character’s main weapon is a sword, which is always equipped in the right hand. The left hand then switches between different powers, such as a quick teleport, or the power to possess in world characters and animals, and various weapons such as a crossbow and pistol. Though the setup took some getting used to, the controls were immediately intuitive. Right trigger operated the right arm, left trigger operated the left.

What has me really excited about the game however, is the story and the world they have built. It follows a dystopian steampunk aesthetic that reminded me immediately of Rapture from BioShock and New Crobuzon from China Mieville’s Bas Lag trilogy (Perdido Street Station, The Scar, Iron Council). As an aesthetic, steampunk is one I can never seem to get enough of, and the environments in this game are stunning in terms of both graphical fidelity and design. Everywhere in the world are small hints towards a larger plot, such as a piece of graffiti in a house that ominously states “the Outsider walks among us”. Dishonored seems to be built from the DNA of Deus x, Thief, BioShock, and Assassin’s Creed, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the full game.

Need For Speed: Most Wanted

It’s odd to see a second game this generation bearing the Most Wanted title, but this will hopefully be a shot in the arm for the floundering Need For Speed franchise. Criterion Games, the creators of Burnout, have taken over from Black Box as the lead developers, and the influence is immediately apparent.

From the short chunk I played, this is as much a sequel to Burnout Paradise as it is another NFS instalment. It has the open world to speed around with billboards to smash. It has the arcade style racing with emphasis on taking down opponents. Sadly, it does not have the 60 frames per second that Burnout is famous for, but the action does run at a solid 30, and the trade off has resulted in a beautiful looking game.

My only real problem with what I played was that the police pursuit after the race was far too easy. Some of the chases in the first Most Wanted were exceptionally challenging, and I am hoping for the same here.

Aliens: Colonial Marines

At an hour, this was the demo I queued the longest for, and at five minutes, it was the one I had the least time with by far. I am a massive fan of Alien. To the point that I love Alien Resurrection (seriously, watch it as an action comedy, it’s great) and watch the entire quadrilogy at least twice a year. On top of this, I love Gearbox. Borderlands is one of my favourite shooters of all time. With this in mind, I’m worryingly excited for Colonial Marines. Unfortunately, the demo was not what I wanted. What I played wasn’t bad, but it was a team deathmatch mode, and not a chunk from the single player campaign like I had hoped for. It played well for what it was though. The controls were tight and the game captured the aesthetic of the universe well.

Tomb Raider

How disappointing. Tomb Raider, despite never really being as great as I seem to think it was, was a franchise that I enjoyed a lot when I was first getting into games. While it was sold on sex appeal, it still stands as one of the pioneers of the 3D platformer/action/adventure genre, so it’s sad to see that the reboot spends so much effort following rather than innovating.

The platforming mechanics are taken directly out of the Uncharted games. The hunting is taken from a myriad of other games like Red Dead Redemption. Unfortunately, it is content to copy these mechanics and not improve on any of them. I found nothing here that excited me, because I’ve played it all before in games I either liked, or didn’t (my distaste for the Uncharted series is well documented). I was interested in the Tomb Raider reboot, but the demo has put me off slightly. I hope it’s not indicative of the whole experience, because this is really the series’ last chance, and I’d hate to see that wasted due to a lack of ambition.

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