Pants Goes to the EB Expo

The back of Doc’s head. Oh yeah, and Charles Martinet.

Have you had enough of the EB Expo? Well, I haven’t. Let’s keep talking!

I may be Potaku’s new online editor, but that was only figured out earlier this week, so I didn’t get quite the same experience as Doc and Shiggy did at the EB Expo (though we crossed paths many, many times). I was only there for the Saturday twilight session, and with a few friends at that, so I had a lot less time to work with and a strong dislike of long queues that kept me from playing a few games I’d taken a keen interest in.

What do you do when presented with the opportunity to try out a whole bunch of upcoming games? Ignore them and hunt down your friends! Get the whole socialising aspect out of the way first. Harli was unfortunately too busy working at her booth to say much more than a friendly hello, but a trip to FatShady turned into a 30 minute gaming session as our little group struggled not to throw precious controllers at screens.

FatShady is synonymous with the Trials name at this point, so it was no surprise hearing he was helping to showcase Trials Evolution at the expo. But it was surprising to hear that he was showing off the first DLC for the game, featuring the new BMX bike that is equal parts hilarious and frustrating. Accompanying the new bike is a respectable number of new levels for every difficulty, and after a few months away from the game it was great to dive back in and experience this content. When I next have Microsoft Points on my account, this DLC is the first thing I’ll be picking up.

Some of the greatest surprises from the evening came from the indie developers section, where it was quite apparent that everyone had outstanding passion for their work and wanted nothing more than to share it. Doc and Shiggy appear to have made their own friends there, but within our group Pez came across a little game called Orbitor and found himself deep in discussion with one of the developers. I’m quite terrible at paying attention to indie games, but Orbitor is something I’d be happy to buy one day, a simple concept with some underlying complexity and very impressive visuals. The game is actually up on Steam Greenlight, so why not take a look and maybe vote for it?

Our little group actually didn’t play too many games over the course of the night. In most cases the lines were simply too long to bother, and it was enough to stop and watch others play for a few minutes. Shiggy informed us that there was no line for Rayman Legends at the Ubisoft booth, so we eventually headed there. True to his word there was no line at all, so after waiting for the one person in front of us to finish, it was finally time to get our hands on Nintendo’s latest console.

Shiggy made a great point when he said that his hands-on experience with the Wii U was important in developing a proper understanding of the console. It rings true not only for his experience, but also for mine and the people I was with. Standing alongside Pez, Rize and Cakesmith, it was pretty clear that we all had some reservations about the controller, so it’s important to note that even with the stellar Rayman Legends waiting in front of us we took a few good moments to just hold the controllers and think.

Shiggy’s already talked about it, but to reiterate and add to it:
– the Gamepad is surprisingly light
– the Gamepad visuals are superb
– the Pro controller’s shoulder buttons felt awkward to press, and too light, which meant I was often left wondering if I’d even pressed them properly at all
– the analogue placement on the Pro controller is quite comfortable, but does take a little time getting used to

If you’ve listened to the Minitaku you’ll remember in the rare instances I spoke that I was keen on the Wii U to begin with. Having the chance to play it properly only reinforces that.

Rayman Legends itself is an outstanding game, and the demo did a fine job of showcasing its best while also demonstrating how the Gamepad hopes to change multiplayer gaming. Rize used the Gamepad’s touch screen to interact with elements of the level’s environment that Pez and I couldn’t, clearing our path and opening up secret areas. That sort of interaction between players worked well, and it built up to an excellent BIT.TRIP.RUNNER-esque rhythm sequence where three players moved as one. It was, undoubtedly, the highlight of my expo experience.

As it began to rain we made our way in to the EB Arena to see developers from Ubisoft and Square Enix talk about Assassin’s Creed 3, Tomb Raider and Hitman Absolution. As a fanboy I was deeply invested in the footage shown of Assassin’s Creed 3, which showcased hunting in the frontier, naval battles, an assassination, and a level reminiscent of the Assassin/Romulus tombs from previous games. There was a lot of variety, and it was all impressive. I’m still warming to Connor as a main character, but the world he inhabits is large and exciting. I remain ever hesitant about the new direction Tomb Raider is taking but the gameplay looks rather intense. The customisation options available to Hitman Absolution suggest that there’s a lot of replayability to the game, which was actually brought up by the developer, who stated that one of the new game modes was inspired by the creativity of players in previous Hitman games.

Our night ended well. Regrouping with the rest of Potaku, we found ourselves standing in front of the Nintendo booth right as Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario, made an appearance. Doc and Shiggy had already met Martinet, but for the rest of us it was a great surprise and I’ll admit to wearing a bit of a goofy smile as he talked. A few expo attendees were brought up to play New Super Mario Bros. U alongside him, and I hope they know how lucky they are because I imagine there were more than a few people in that crowd filled with jealousy.

Yet even standing behind them and watching was an exciting experience, and I’m beyond happy that it rounded out an evening that has reinvigorated my gaming passion.

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