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EGX 2014 – thoughts from Lefranzine

So EGX is done for another year. We managed to make 2 of the 4 days for our first time and I’m glad to say, I had a wonderful time! It was nice to get hands on with the upcoming games releases and enjoy the atmosphere fellow gamers all joining together to celebrate what we love doing! Overall, the stands were great! Lots to talk about, the reps were great at keeping us entertained while we waited in line to get our go on the popular titles and there was lots to do to get the most out of the experience. As usual, I either picked areas where photography was prohibited or I forgot to take any! So apologies for the lack of images to give you a sneaky peak!

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When we got there on Saturday afternoon, it was packed! The floors were set out into zones with your main developers having their own large sections to allow plenty of gaming opportunities. Playstation and XBOX ruled supreme with their expansive blue and green areas and had their stages all set up for their competitions and shows. The Nintendo zone also had a great area as always and their store was enticing us to spend our hard earned pennies! There was merchandise, the PC area, Retro games and some areas for some of the other releases which were a little more family friendly. Upstairs in the over 18’s section, you had Ubisoft, SEGA and Bethesda with a mixture of Playstation and XBOX consoles set up with the demos all ready to go. Alongside these were the other highly anticipated 18 rated games which are on their way to us over the next few months. Also upstairs, the Fight Zone for the Street Fighter fans and the Rezzed Indie games section with a number of developers plugging their titles. There was a great amount of stuff going on. Almost too much if you only had a day ticket. But, it is a gaming convention after all.
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I missed out on a lot of games I would have like to try out. For example, Evolve, Dead Island 2 and even though I’m not an XBOX user, the Halo Masterchief Collection. I also really wanted to try out Oculus too but there just wasn’t time! There were also photo opportunities (which we made the most of) and competitions to get involved which always break the day up a little and lets you get really involved. Game, Twitch, Virgin Media and Turtle Beach also had stands allowing you to make orders and learn a little more about what they have to offer the gaming community. But I was there to get my hands on the games, so here’s my overview of what I managed to get a go on before then end of the weekend!
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Little Big Planet 3 was the first stop… or rather, the photo op to get a personalised LBP3 cover printed. So we did that, got a picture with Sackboy and then headed to the consoles to get a go. The main test at these conventions is seeing how much of a battering these consoles can take. Unfortunately, the PS4 we were hoping to use was having some issues, but the awesome rep led us to the Playstation Plus VIP area and got us to screen to have a play. I would have liked to try out the multiplayer but while that side was occupied, we had a go at single player mode. First off, Oddsock is as cute as a button and his ability to jump off walls was incredibly handy for the level we got to play. The graphics are your typical Little Big Planet and the usual personalisation styles is great fun. I watched Kuniku play with Toggle and his trick of making himself bigger or smaller depending on what you need to do is a nice ability when negotiating the levels. I imagine on 4 player co-op mode, this will be a lot of fun to play with. I am looking forward to this and now I’ve managed to have a go, I want my own Oddsock to entertain me!
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Next up was the Nintendo area, which we usually spend a lot of time at. However, we had a lengthy stint during Hyper Japan playing the games on offer so we were mainly in it for the Streetpass weekend and Splatoon. The all out turf war pitted team Splat against team Toon on a 4 vs 4 set up. A quick tutorial of the controls which use the motion of the Wii U Gamepad, the analog sticks and the triggers. It was a colourful, free for all shoot out. The team with the most paint on the map, wins. As fun as the multiplayer was, I’m not entirely sure what the single player mode would be like. If you’re not lucky enough to have a good internet connection or many friends with a Wii U, it may not have much to keep you playing. This would be a shame as it is a fun game so I guess time will tell for this one.
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Next we headed upstairs to mull over what to play next. All eyes fixed on the Assassins Creed Rogue stand. The demo level was on the high seas and involved taking out some of the ships and avoiding icebergs in order to get to dry land. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t entirely thrilling as unless you decided to board a ship, you didn’t get any hand to hand combat. It was essentially Black Flag and would have hoped that for the demo there would be a little bit more of a mixture of land and sea escapades. I was a little disappointed but I’m sure the full game will provide a decent story to make Rogue a worthwhile addition to the series. Next up was a trip to the Assassins Creed Unity theatre next door where we got to sit back, relax and enjoy watching the Ubisoft reps play the demo and show off the new combat abilities, the stealth mode and the amazing graphics. There look to be a lot of opportunities to shape your own path through the missions and to make the most of your surroundings. I don’t want to give too much away but I am certainly looking forward to this!
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The last game of the day was Mortal Kombat X. Well, just watching it from the queue was enough to get your blood pumping. The X-Ray moves were enough to make everyone wince and playing the game got the same reaction. There were a couple of new characters for us to try out with Raiden, Sub Zero and Scorpion in the mix as well. We managed to get a few rounds in and I even beat Kuniku at a round! I do love the blood and guts feel of Mortal Kombat and X will certainly maintain the spirit of the previous games in the series. We enjoyed it, we certainly hope you will too.
Sunday was an opportunity to squeeze a few more games in while Kuniku went and enjoyed the Capcom Street Fighter Pro Tour upstairs in the Fight Zone. But before he disappeared off, we headed into the Playstation area to get our hands on The Order 1886. It was great. I knew I would want to get it before EGX but I didn’t realise how great the weapons would be and how atmospheric it would be. As a 3rd person shooter, I enjoyed having the ability to get a better view of the action as it happened. The demo wasn’t particularly long but gave you the opportunity to see what is to come. Previous gameplay trailers showed a beast in the tunnels, but the demo is on street level and allows you to have 5 – 10 mins  of just shooting everything with the clever Thermite gun. We are certainly looking forward to the release of The Order now! In the same area, our good friend JollyFrog Gaming got a go on Bloodborne. We didn’t get a chance to play this in the end, but from what I saw while waiting for our turn, the graphics looked great and it was very much a case of when you die, the demo finishes. Some people only lasted a couple of minutes whereas others were there for a little while taking on the enemies in their stride. Well worth a look into if we see it at MCM in October.
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Next was a quick stop into Far Cry 4 and all I can say is that it is going to be crazy! I wanted to try and fly in on the gyrocopter from the trailer but the previous player had chosen the method of approach for me when they left the console. So I got on my Elephant, because being stealthy is no fun, to burst my way through the doors before unleashing hell and firing round after round at the enemies until a helicopter ended me. Lots of fun but a very contained level with the familiar HUD from Far Cry 3 and the same controller configuration. The demo didn’t give too much away but it may well be enough to convince us to get it around release though!
We all dispersed our separate ways, so I thought I would give The Evil Within a shot. When I finally made it into the giant purple inflatable tent, I watched other gamers try and beat the Survivor mode of Alien Isolation while I waited for my turn. I decided to hold off on playing until the Alien Isolation event on 6th October with Xtreme Gaming, but I couldn’t help but watch. It looks intense and terrifying. Someone lasted all of 30 seconds due to a costly miscalculation with their stealthy approach while I watched another be a little gun-ho with the flame thrower and manage to survive 4 minutes before the Alien appeared out of nowhere. It looks great and I can’t wait to poop myself playing it next week.
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My only issue with The Evil Within demo itself was the volume in the headset. It was deafening. I did ask for it to be turned down but they said the level was set unfortunately. Although immersive, it was overkill. The game is creepy, dark and I did jump a couple of times due to the ghostly figure which appears at certain points. Much in the same way as Silent Hills PT, I didn’t like the idea of opening doors and getting a nasty shock on the other side. The controls were pretty blocky and at times the graphics weren’t particularly great. I ended up getting taken out by a pretty nasty trap which apparently has an obvious escape that I missed. I’m hoping that the demo isn’t what the final product will be as I would prefer not to pay out for it but watching the latest trailer again, it promises a lot more and I certainly hope that is the case.
After that, I headed to the Batman Arkham Knight theatre. After a long wait, I was ushered in and we were presented with a very enthusiastic member of the Rocksteady team. He was great and highly entertaining which what you need after waiting in line for a game you won’t get to play. We were presented with a 15 minute video of the PC version of the game. The demo really showed off the new combat abilities and of course, the Batmobile! Graphically stunning, lots to look forward to and it’s going to be a hell of a ride. Again, I don’t want to give too much away because I hate it when people ruin things for me! But trust me when I say I think this will be a great end to the Arkham story and Batman is looking better than ever. I would have liked to have a go but was really pleased with what I saw and the reaction from the rest of the crowd confirmed how highly anticipated it is.
As the queue for Until Dawn was still pretty long, I thought I would pop upstairs and try out a couple of the other titles up there. Unfortunately the Evolve and Dead Island 2 queues were showing an hour wait, so I popped over to Dying Light to give that a go. We were told by the Warner Bros rep that the demo was a few months old and that the game would have some of fixes in place to make the final version all the better. With 8 minutes on the clock, the queue moved quite quickly. You get a quick tutorial and then you are unleashed on your mission to secure the safe zone. Straight away you are over run with various levels of infected. The combat is pretty fun, with your barbed wire baseball bat you can make some pretty hard hits which show the bone crunching blow that you deliver. There are zombies in hasmad suits which blow up spectacularly if you hit the tank on their backs. But there are a couple of enemies in the daytime which make it a little more difficult. A big ass dude with a huge hammer and a venom spitting fat guy can slow you down so I found it best to avoid. The weapons are pretty awesome especially the axe which seems to cut through enemies like butter. I think it will be a very good game but I think the night time will be absolutely crazy! Another one to add to the list.
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My final game of the weekend was one that I had been wanting to play all day, Until Dawn. The queue could take up to an hour and that’s mainly because you got 20-30 minutes on the demo depending on how much looking around you wanted to do. From the trailer I had previously watched, I thought this game would be good, but the demo was worth the wait. Very cinematic and atmospheric from the start with you worrying about what would happen with everything you touch. The demo had one particular moment which made me jump. The gamers either side of me smiled knowingly as they had also been caught out by it. The controls were a little blocky at times but that might just be the demo and the camera may get on some players nerves as it is fixed. I only say this might get some negative feedback because most games have the camera moving with you as you wander about the levels but this adds to the horror aspect as you never know what will be around the corner. The butterfly effect game mechanic is hinted at in the demo as you are given choices to make which affect the outcome and picking up objects to look at make you wonder what will happen when you turn it over. The 20 minutes flew by and a Saw style situation was presented to me at the end. I made my choice and the demo ended with no sign of what would follow. I thought it was great and Until Dawn is definitely going on my pre-order list.
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Time was short so I headed upstairs to find Kuniku and enjoy the grand finals of the Capcom Pro Tour. A very close and tense battle between the two players. C Viper (RZR CG| ProblemX) came out victorious against Rufus (Andreas) and was a great way to finish off our time at EGX. I do still think that we needed more time in the day to get around to see everything but for our first time, it was a fantastic experience. I would highly recommend it for any gamer who wants to go to a true gaming Expo.

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