Visit to EGX

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Thursday at 10:30 I arrived at Earls Court to attend EuroGamer. As I approached, I noticed the queue wrapping around the side of the building and my heart sank. How long would we have to wait to even enter the arena? Our tickets were for 11:00 entry till 19:00. Luckily the mass of gamers moved very quickly and we reached the inside no later than 11:10. I just had enough time to purchase an official show guide while waiting in the queue. It was more fast and streamlined than I expected, colour me impressed.

First we did a full circuit of the ground floor, scoping the games and areas out. The queue for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was already pretty long, and we couldn’t be bothered to wait. We moved up to the first floor and into the over 18s area, stopping at the bouncers we expected to show ID, but they waved us through after seeing out wristbands. “You’re 25 aren’t you?” Don’t ask me how he knew that.

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Ubisoft’s Far Cry 4 queue was short so we decided to bless it as our first game. The queue was so smooth running, and we were even able to get two screens next to each other. I was very impressed with how helpful the Ubisoft staff were. The demo for Far Cry 4 had 3 different modes, you could choose to bombard the fortress on an elephant, death from above or the stealth approach. I started with the elephant mode; which ended rather quickly. Crashing through the front gates on Dumbo, the soldiers are instantly aware and can bombard you. Luckily the elephant goes on a rampage and helps by stamping and throwing with it’s trunk, the gun wielding enemies. After jumping off the elephant, I ran to hide behind a jeep, cutting the breaks at the same time so it slid down a hill crushing nearby mercenaries. Before I knew it, I was overcome with gunfire and died pretty quickly.

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Next, I opted for the stealth approach. I was kindly told by one of the staff that there was a grapple area at the side of the fortress so you could avoid going in using the front entrance. In this mode you were provided with a sniper rifle and a crossbow. Using the sniper rifle, you have the ability to zoom in and hold your breath to steady your hand while lining up a shot. After grappling up the rock face, I crawled behind a bush and shot the guard patrolling at the top of the fortress; then continued shuffling into a nearby hut and headshot an enemy repairing the bottom of a jeep. Over the radio I listened to them say they had heard a noise and they were looking for me. The soldiers sent for reinforcements, and suddenly there was a helicopter circling above and I had to run into the shelter of a building to avoid the rain of bullets with my tail between my legs.

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On a later play through I discovered an anti aircraft type gun on the top of the fortress that I had walked straight passed previously. Trying this to defeat the circling helicopter, it took a while for me to find it on the birds eye view, and that slight pause caused me to die.

Overall, I found Far Cry 4 challenging but the gameplay and controls were very smooth; graphics were beautiful and very polished. The one downside I have is more on a practical, set up level. The TVs were big, overly big; it was hard to take in the whole screen at once as the controllers didn’t give you enough cable to move further away from the screen.

After playing about five play throughs of Far Cry 4 where I died a lot, we joined a short queue for Dead Island 2.  Short… so I should be playing quickly,so I

thought. They only had 8 monitors and staggered groups of 4. After a short introduction from a staff member, these groups of 4 all started the demo at the same time. We timed it and the demo lasted about 12 minutes. The queue wasn’t big, but we were waiting for an hour and a half. Was it worth it you ask? Not really. My demo crashed once, just as I was slicing a head off, and my friends’ crashed twice. The staff were friendly enough but the crashing spoiled it. I understand it is in very early development, but waiting for over an hour and have it crash on me was very aggravating. Maybe that’s me just being picky. It was a pre-alpha demo so I was expecting some clunkiness, and it was difficult to swipe and behead the zombies. Similar to the original Dead Island you have a rage meter and can stylishly despatch of the living dead, such as breaking their necks with your bare hands.

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During the demo we were given an objective: to collect flammable items to make a weapon with fire, collect electrical items to make a shocking weapon, and reach a place on the map. I managed to collect all the fire items to create a gun that seemed to shoot flame bullets, but I ran out of ammo for that quickly so it was a bit useless. The world of Hollywood looked amazing. The detail of the environments was pretty impressive, and the atmosphere was incredible. Next gen consoles definitely have me sold. The group of four playing next to me were all online and we could see each other in the game. Our kills were being tracked and counted, but having my game crash, my final result was 6… hmph.

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By this time, my tummy was rumbling and I was thinking about lunch, but not far away was the Assassins Creed: Rogue area. Originally I thought Assassins Creed: Unity would be at the show, but it was only a developer session so that disappointed me slightly. Rogue is out 14.11.14, and I knew nothing ab

out it. We queued for about 10 minutes until the current session finished. Then in a block of 30 or so people, we were guided all at the same time to our seats.

Everyone started the demo simultaneously, but from looking at other players screens, I assumed not everyone’s gaming experience was the same. We all started on a boat and had to sink the French ships, who were the enemy. Major Black Flag deja vu. The mechanics were exactly the same; sailing the ship was the same and the firing of the cannons were all the same button presses. The only thing that seemed to have changed was the ships you were firing at and the location. The surrounding area was covered in ice rather than the tropical blue ocean of the Caribbean in Black Flag. They didn’t seem to have anything new to offer with this game, and I was very disappointed as a fan of the Assassins Creed franchise. For me, it wasn’t even worth the 10 minute queue.

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After that  disappointing demo, we went to have lunch. There were a few restaurants to choose from but I was so hungry I didn’t care. I opted for Nachos and a 7up – equalling £6 – and was presently surprised at the price. Once filling our bellies, we did another round of the ground floor area to check out the queues. COD: Advanced Warfare was still ridiculous, but right next door was Sunset Overdrive, something I have been wanting to try since watching the eye catching trailer.

The queue wasn’t too bad. Xbox had set up 12 screens with 6 people playing together. Staff at Xbox kept the queue entertained with jokes and discussing the other games in their booths. The demo consisted of 3 waves of monsters while you protected large vats containing something or other. We were told by the Xbox staff before we started playing, “Don’t treat it like a regular FPS, try out all the different weapons and have fun.” So I did just that.

When asked what I thought while in the midst of a wave, I told the Xbox employee , “I like the colours.” Because that is the first thing I noticed. Apparently I wasn’t thefirst person to say that that day. The colours are vibrant and neon; aliens die in an explosion of orange liquid and one weapon creates green, glittery chinese dragons that zoom around.

The weapons are pretty cool themselves; there was a freezing weapon that created a dome of ice and froze any monsters in its radius. There is also a teddy bear launcher thing… teddy bears with dynamite strapped to them…crazy!

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The screen was very busy – not only the exploding orange aliens, the 6 people firing weapons in all directions – but the 4 corners of the screen with player information that you had to keep an eye on. What do you look at? One thing I liked was the way the map was put on the screen. It looked like it had been smashed into the screen like a bullet; a small thing, but I loved it.

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Once my eyes were adjusted to the normal real world colours, we went back upstairs to try my luck at Battlefield: Hardline. There were 32 screens and a herd of us. I’ve never played any Battlefield games before, and I sucked. Honestly. A large group were all playing online together. Police versus … um… robbers? We were told while in the line that the objective was to stay in possession of the maps vehicles.  The vehicles included motorcycles, cars, white vans and fan boats to drive on the water. It was a fun and hectic experience. The game felt very smooth to play and the environment once again was fantastic. Also, the weapon sounds were crisp and it was a joy to hear.

Right next door was Dying Light. I was starting to get a headache from being close to screens all day, but wanted to try as many games as possible.

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I like my zombies, big fan of them, so trying out another zombie game in the day was gonna be good. Except it wasn’t. Maybe it was because I was getting tired, but there wasn’t much to get excited about. It was zombies mixed with free running. It felt very similar to Dead Island and Left for Dead all in one. The similarity to Dead Island makes sense as the developers of Dying Light are Techland, the developers of the original Dead Island game. The environment wasn’t quite as colourful as Dead Island 2 we played earlier, but the mechanics felt very much the same. Maybe in a longer playthrough – not just the ten minutes I got – it might have a bit more going for it, but personally, I wasn’t impressed.

Afterwards, we had a peek into The Evil Within area, but the queue was too long and I wasn’t that bothered about playing it.

Reaching the end of the day, I wanted to go and try Alien: Isolation. I’m not one for scary/horror games- I haven’t even been able to finish Amnesia – but I couldn’t let this one pass me by as I remember watching the original film on the edge of my seat at a surprisingly young age. Alien: Isolation had their own walled in area and I had nervous butterflies in my stomach as we waited outside. Inside it was completely black with around 60 monitors with partitions between them. We were told while waiting for the current people to finish that the objective was to get to the checkpoint. He recommended that we crouch, take it slow and hide. If the alien got too close we had the option to use a flame-thrower but it would only buy us a few seconds to hide. This got me looking apprehensively over at my companion, I was scared. Anyone who got through the level quickly would get their name on the leader board and the quickest time would get a free t-shirt.

Never did I think this game would be the highlight of my EGX.

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You can’t really put down in words how tense and nerve wracking it was from the start. The ship was dark and the noise in the headphones was fantastic. You could hear the footsteps as the alien moved around, and judge where it was. They had a radar like tracker that shows you where your goal is, if the alien is nearby and where. The first round I looked around the beginning room for a while, then finally plucked up the courage to move forwards. I crawled slowly into the other, pitch black room only to see a flicker of an overhead light reveal the outline of the alien sitting on a gurney. To say I almost weed myself would be accurate. I turned tail and hid in a locker until the tracker said the alien had gone. By this time my friend had given up in fear and come to watch me play instead.

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Heart pumping in my chest, I again made a move into the next room. It was then I heard the foreboding footsteps and noticed the creature behind a pile of pipes. I didn’t dare move, until it began to walk towards me – not realising I was there – then I crawled around to the other side of the pipes to hide from its view. The alien stopped and sniffed the air. It walked around the pipes again, to the side where I was hiding, so naturally I crawled as quickly as I could to the other side of the pile. We went round and round in circles like this, playing cat and mouse, my hands getting more and more sweaty. It was still sniffing the air… obviously it could smell I was there but not see me. Finally, the alien moved on and I could dodge into the connecting room and hide in a locker. I yelped a few times.

The second time round I wanted to see how quickly the alien would appear so I started to run towards the objective as soon as I started. Before I knew it the alien pounced, its dripping jaws right in my face and stabbed me with its tail. That told me there is no choice but to be stealthy in this area. I had another round until someone from the crew waved at me and told me it was time for the other group to have a go. I could have played until I reached the objective. I could have queued for round 2, but my energy was draining and we wanted to get home before rush hour.

I had never been to any sort of gaming convention, unbelievably, and I enjoyed my first experience. Everyone was in high spirits and the staffat each booth were friendly and professional as expected. The general queuing times weren’t bad, Dead Island 2 being the worst, but then again I didn’t bother with any queues that looked longer than 45 minutes. That’s why I was so surprised when the short looking queue for Dead Island 2 ended up being over an hour!

My only regret is that I didn’t go and say hello to the members of The Yogscast. I love the Yogscast and watch their content daily, so the fact I was a tad too shy to queue up annoys me. I especially wanted to see Hannah, she’s awesome.

Best game that I played: Alien:Isolation and there was no way I could have predicted that.

(Images: Far Cry 4, Ubisoft. Dead Island 2, Deep Silver. Sunset Overdrive, Microsoft Studios. Dying Light, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Alien: Isolation, Sega. Other Images: Jack Livermore & Myself)


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