Silinde, Disdain and I went to the EuroGamer Expo this Friday just gone. I tweeted thoughts on what we played throughout the day but I felt it could use some fleshing out here.
As previously mentioned here many times, Demon's Souls is one of my favourite games ever. I'll go into why I doubt I can ever claim it as my top in my Xenoblade entry but, yeah, it's close to my heart. I'm damn proud of my platinum for it as is Disdain for his. Naturally, this was the game we were dying to play before we'd even gotten there and had agreed would be the first game we played.
As soon as we entered I asked the first guy we saw where Dark Souls was set up and we hastily walked in the general direction, proudly ignoring the Final Fantasy XIII-2, Skyward Sword and huge Skyrim set ups. To our delight, the first row of PS3 Dark Souls' set up was completely empty so we got comfortable and prepared our bodies.
The first thing that annoyed us was discovering you can't run in the demo. Why? No clue, but that you can was duly noted in the release videos pouring into Nico Nico Douga. The second thing to seriously annoy us was finding out we couldn't change the equipment our guys were wearing. This meant we couldn't get ourselves to half encumbrance for rolling goodness and would have to rely on shielding more than either of us were comfortable with. Due to this, we both went with Warrior as the optimal choice and begun drawing a small crowd. I got the first applause by rolling around the armoured rhino and stabbing him up the arse in extremely easy fashion. It wasn't exactly challenging to me but having seen the utterly tragic attempts of almost every player there against it I can understand what seemed so impressive. Another small nod for parry and riposting a knight. The best cheer though? Disdain got one-shot by a ridiculously high level black phantom mini tower knight because people had died so many times on his game that it had turned the world tendency to pure black. Now that was funny.
On the first sitting of 55 minutes we each spent on it, neither of us could play flawlessly enough in that environment to save enough 'health pots' to get through the Gargoyle boss. I find it pretty amusing that one of the hardest bosses in Demon's Souls is the first boss in the sequel with both cheese methods removed and increased difficulty. But that's why we play the game!
Our final hour of the expo was spent trying to beat it again. We were determined that one of us had to beat it and Disdain found the key. Somewhat close to the boss was another bonfire in an area neither of us had bothered to visit but had seen and discussed. This allowed for a far quicker route back to the boss and the ability to have at least five pots. If we'd found this earlier we both would have beaten the demo comfortably. But we didn't and only one of us did proper, the other vicariously. It felt damn good.
Upon ringing the bell, the shoddily translated demo gave us the wonderful message of CONGRATULATIONS YOU HAVE ACHIEVED THE PURPOSE which encroaches dangerously on SHINE GET for awesomeness.
Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
I am looking forward to this game but there's such an insane amount of games coming out over the next few months I need to play that this being on a console I loath by a company I've fallen out of love with has gotten it lost in the shuffle. Which is a shame because it reminds me of Wind Waker a lot, a game that would be regarded as the best Zelda game ever if not for the same reason Demon's Souls can't be my favourite game of all time.
I was actually surveyed by a guy asking me what I thought of Nintendo while I waited for the horrible guy in front of me to stop being terrible and then for the batteries to be changed in the Wiimote. I let him have that opinion with both barrels.
Anyway Skyward Sword was pretty good. They've got some really neat ideas in there. Even a standard trash enemy requires some careful swinging with the Wiimote to kill which highlighted that it just isn't capable of such accuracy, which is tragic. I'll keep an open mind on the game but I have a feeling the reviews will generally agree that it's a fantastic game that could've been a perfect game with 100% accurate controls, something I don't think achievable on the Wii.
I didn't even finish my ten minutes on this for no other reason than when I play a Zelda game I want to be on a sofa immersed in its magic.
Guild Wars 2
We had to queue for a decent amount of time to play this but it was worth it. I don't feel I have the time to play an MMO nowadays but I'm still looking forward to playing this so I really wanted to test the waters. The demo gives you 35 minutes before booting you off so we decided to split it between the three of us. Disdain started with a Warrior and I took over for the second half, which ended when I got stuck in the scenery. Silinde then made a Sylvari and took part in that dragon event anyone whose interested in the game has already seen by now. If you feel compelled to watch either linked video, go for it. The one embedded up top is some gameplay of the level 58 area you get started in. I tried to show some stuff like UI and world size and crap but both videos will be pretty lame with us babbling nonsense over the top of them.
I can only speak for Warrior but the combat was pretty decent. You can bind an attack to your auto attack button and then mash it and it'll combo in other abilities... I think. There was also some weird ability unlock system that I couldn't figure out whether it was tied to your EXP or via ability usage. Oh, and after using abilities for a while, we got adrenaline which let us use Flurry, which was a pretty badass super attack.
The game utilized Rift's system of dynamic events while running around questing. Think of that dragon event we've all seen and scale it down a bit, that type of thing. It was pretty cool but as Disdain pointed out, so were rifts the first time you encountered them. On the fourth and fifth time, they were getting old. Having to farm planarite at end game for so much was just tedious. Hopefully there'll be some balance between that.
Only real bad point (other than getting stuck in the scenery...) was the dodge key being bound to B. As Silinde discovered in one of the videos, you can double tap the movement key to dodge too but, damn, place your fingers in wasd formation and imagine hitting B regularly. What were they thinking?
Final Fantasy XIII-2
It's just more of the same but with a lot of crap fixed. I'll happily note that there was not a single linear section in all of what I saw. The QTE's felt really tacked on. I'm not quite sure what was happening with the combat, it seems to have introduced random battles with some quirky rules. If there's one thing I like in my JRPGS it's being able to see the enemy and having the basic rule of engagement for surprise attacks and the ambush equivalent (see Grandia 2).
I can't let it pass without saying the demo set up was idiotic. You fight a boss with Noel and Serah but they didn't bother making one of the paradigms RAV/RAV which made it impossible to break the mob, causing the fight to tediously drag on.
I shouldn't have played this game really for the same reason I didn't play Mass Effect 3. I know what it is, I know what to expect, I just need to have it in my home to enjoy it.
LittleBigPlanet - Vita
Having read there were only eighty Vitas at TGS and queues were stopped at lunch time and that eighty journalists had six to share between them, I wasn't holding out much hope of playing a Vita. We looked at the queues and decided to just join and wait and, boy, am I glad we did.
The way they dealt with it was when you get to the end you pick a card at random that determines what game you get to play. I was absolutely desperate to get Uncharted but instead got Super Stardust HD. Silinde got LittleBigPlanet and was more interested in Stardust so we did a trade. I was bummed I couldn't get Uncharted...
...until we got out. LittleBigPlanet on Vita is absolutely amazing. I was curious how certain aspects of the Vita handled (namely the back panel) and in the ten minutes I got to spend with it I was able to fully complete two levels that utilized all aspects of it. I got to tilt things back and forward and push things in and out the screen with both front and back panels to progress through them. I know a lot of LittleBigPlanet is building the levels but as far as gameplay goes this was more immersive than almost anything I've ever played on the PS3 versions.
The guy I was with was a bro too. He asked me if I regretted not getting the WipeOut card because of the hot cosplaying chick that worked for Psygnosis parading around with those that did. I told him I didn't because, other than the obvious reasons, her liverpudlian accent completely ruined the image. He also joked that one of the other women compering there's favourite game was probably Catz. We then discussed games and tastes and I updated his knowledge on the Vita's battery life, outrageously overpriced proprietary memory and in-fact confirmed cartridge design. I was planning to get a Vita on day one and still might but I can't overlook those battery and memory stick issues.
Upon leaving I discovered the joys of Uncharted involved climbing a few walls and shooting two guys and felt pretty good. LittleBigPlanet will be the Vita's killer app at launch and sell the thing to the Little Jimmys.
I want to make something very clear - there were only Xbox 360 versions set up. I'm aware how old the console is and what Bethesda have to work with and that the PC version will be drastically superior in every conceivable way and I am still looking forward to the two weeks vacation time I have coinciding with it.
But with that said, this was a fucking mess. Graphics that don't hold up under close scrutiny, blocky shadows, crippling slow down and massive load times really blighted the experience. Being so damn close to a massive TV didn't help either. Alas...
Queuing for it was pretty cool. We got to watch so many different people play and it really highlighted the type of game Elder Scrolls is at its core. No two screens were the same; everyone was off doing their own thing. There was even one guy who ran around the first town you encounter killing everyone and trying to set fire to their corpses. He probably couldn't hear the "that guys got issues" coming from the crowd due to wearing the shitty Turtle Beach headphones littered around the expo. I joked when I got my ten minutes I'd head to the town and roleplay a job. I wasn't seriously going to do that but I did know I wasn't going to spend the time fighting random crap, I was heading for the hills!
Upon discovering I couldn't get to my first destination up a snowy cliff, I looked at the map and followed the river. And by follow the river I mean I dived into it and followed its flow downstream as the game crawled along at 5fps. I eventually found a horse and shit my pants. I wasn't expecting that! It sure made getting around a bit easier even if it was slow as fuck. I first encountered a camp of huge trolls weilding clubs and just kept riding. I found a little fort thing near a bridge and sped past some bitch that aggroed me until I found a town with another unfriendly woman that obliterated me with ice magic. I was sent back to the start of the game with no horse and let the last minute tick down.
Make of it what you will but it's basically Oblivion with massive refinement, bells and whistles.