Sunday, 3 October 2010

Eurogamer Expo 2010

Highlights from this year's Eurogamer Expo. We start with a picture of the moment I finally got the chance to play Rock Band 3 keyboards, to Devo's Whip It:

Rock Band 3

The decision to place the standard five coloured keys in amongst the rest of the Pro keyboard initially felt a little odd, so my first play didn't feel as intuitive as it perhaps would have if given a keyboard designed in a more traditional Rock Band style (though perhaps five big coloured buttons on a keyboard-shaped peripheral would look a little too much like something from Fisher Price). That said, it's startling how such a small difference in gameplay can have such a thrilling impact within the familiar template. Pro mode, for both guitar and keys, also looked as daunting as it should, and if seen through to its potential will transform the Rock Band experience, effectively creating two separate games. I wouldn't hold my breath for keyboard parts to be added to tracks from The Beatles Rock Band, as welcome as that would be, but otherwise this is looking like the definitive social gaming experience for late 2010, Kinect and Move be damned.

Killzone 3

Steven Ter Heide's developer session was a chance for the Killzone 3 producer to demonstrate the game's Move controls, as well as generally show off the game's visuals. Firstly, Killzone 3's use of Move looked very impressive; it was interesting to see how little movement Steven made whilst using Move, and a lot of thought appears to have gone into how to keep the experience as seamless and unobtrusive as possible (for instance, not using the Navigation Controller to throw grenades because of the problems this would cause with the camera). Latter-day Wii FPS have shown how effective this set-up can be for console, and Killzone 3 should be the best implementation yet. Secondly, Killzone 3's visuals are stunning. It's the little environmental details that stood out in yesterday's presentation, like the lens flare shining through a boat window, or the perpetual snow flakes obscuring your vision. With this and LittleBigPlanet 2, Sony have an extremely strong start to 2011.

Yuji Naka

Yuji Naka is something of a legend, so his developer session on Saturday afternoon was something of a high point. He's also known as the guy who made Sonic The Hedgehog, something he seems to be reminded about at every opportunity. Ostensibly in attendance to present his new game, Ivy The Kiwi?, it was of course fascinating to hear him (well, via a translator) discuss 2D gaming, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, his favourite Sonic game, and the genesis for his latest title. So, in order the answers were:

- "2D still has many more things to do"
- "It was actually my idea. I approached Nintendo...I always thought it would be fascinating (to have both characters in the same game).
- The first Sonic The Hedgehog game.
- The birth of his first child.

The trailer for Ivy The Kiwi? - yes, the '?' is intentional - doesn't reveal much in the way of varied gaming mechanics, but the gameplay's central focus, which sees you draw vines on screen to propel Ivy through the levels, looks as disorientating as it does tricky, and potentially ripe for drawing out high-score obsessives. Here's the trailer:

The finale, a hall-wide game of Rock-Paper-Scissors in which the prize were signed Ivy The Kiwi? picture books, was also, outside of Rock Band 3, the most fun I had playing a game during the whole event.

Other highlights:

Playing MotorStorm Apocalypse in 3D, despite not actually being able to see the 3D because the special Sony glasses wouldn't fit over my normal pair (this is why the 3DS is a good idea); Medal of Honor online (sans Taliban); inFAMOUS 2 (looking very dynamic); and losing to my friend on Move Table Tennis, from Sports Champions, by a humilating scoreline of 7-2 (excuse: he's already something of an expert, but it was the first time I had played).

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