Eurogamer Expo 2010 – part one

It’s a chilly, wet Friday morning.
It’s October 1st.
I got up at 04:30 this morning.
It’s now 09:45.
I am standing outside Earls Court, London. In the rain.
Why am I here?

Today is the first day of Eurogamer Expo 2010, a 3 day event dedicated to all things video games, and I’m here at the invitation of our good friend @EGVroom.

Bypassing the already lengthy queue I go inside, collect my industry pass and head on up the escalator. Things are surprisingly quiet; the event doesn’t open to the public until 11am so there is a relaxed, almost calm atmosphere about the place despite the bright lights and deafening music. Grabbing a coffee I set off on a wander around before it gets too busy, getting the lay of the land. Threading my way through the various pods and stands I find myself faced with a large curtained off corner of the show floor, “Over 18’s only” emblazoned on large shouty red circles hanging above slits in the curtain. This seems as good a place as any to begin my hands-on.

Fallout: New Vegas
I pretty much loved everything about Fallout 3 so when I heard back in May that Obsidian would be taking up the mantel with New Vegas I was a little unsure of what to expect. I shouldn’t have been. There have been plenty of video previews, screens and interviews since which have gone a long way to allaying my fears but here is my chance to actually play it for myself! Grabbing the Xbox 360 controller and exiting the pip boy map screen I am faced with what could easily be described as Fallout 3.1. Aside from a somewhat brighter skyline and a less washed-out landscape everything seemed identical – for all intents and purposes it is the same game. The pip boy functions in a near identical fashion, accessing the map and missions is the same as previous, so too are the ‘Stats’ and ‘Items’ tabs. Anyone having previously played, and loved, Fallout 3 will find New Vegas comfortably familiar. Unfortunately trying to play a huge sprawling game like Fallout, where the key to it’s success is the engaging storyline, at a game expo is not ideal. Much of the newly tweaked features were not really evident in the limited time I had to play. I didn’t get to see the new character creation process or the new companion wheel, and there was nothing of the faction reputation system noticeable. What I did get to see was, fundamentally, nothing ‘new’, it didn’t surprise but nor did it disappoint. A game like Fallout needs more than 15 minutes spending on it. Deservedly it requires at the very least several days of play, immersing yourself in the story and the world Obsidian have taken great care to evolve into New Vegas. Fallout: New Vegas is released in the UK on 22nd October for Xbox 360, PS3 and Games for Windows.

Gears of War 3
Being nice and early, and with the public still queuing outside in the rain Gears 3 was pretty quiet. A bonus I thought, I’ll get to spend a while really getting stuck in. Wrong. The Gears experience on offer was a lacklustre affair and sorely disappointing. The only mode on display was the new Beast Mode which is to Gears 3 what Horde was to Gears 2. This time out you get to play as the Locust, battling waves of COG/Stranded AI. It appeared that despite being a multiplayer mode and there being around 15 or so consoles running it, I was playing on my own against the AI controlled humans not co-op with my fellow attendees. At the start of the round you choose your Locust from a list of different classes, many of which are locked on first playing, requiring a set amount of tokens to be collected through kills in order to access them. For the purposes of the demo I could choose from the Ticker, Grenadier or the Butcher, I did notice on the opposite set of consoles the Kantus and Wretch were also unlocked. From the small map available and the limited game mode playable it was difficult to notice and gauge the improvements, if any, from Gears 2 in terms of graphics or gameplay. The controls seem to have remained the same, a number of times I happened to fling myself into cover whilst trying to run close to an obstacle. It’s hardly fair to be critical of the game itself, had a fuller multiplayer experience been available or even a snippet of the campaign I’d have more balanced opinions to scribble down. As it was, it left me very underwhelmed. Gears of War 3 had been scheduled for an April 2011 release. During the course of day one at the expo it was announced the game was being delayed until ‘Fall’ 2011.

This post forms Part 1 of a series of posts coming over the next few days rounding up my thoughts on Eurogamer Expo 2010.