18 October 2011

Top 10 Snarky Impressions of EB Expo 2011

Here are my top ten, half-cocked impressions of the EB Games Expo 2011:
  1. The queuing system really sucked.  Big time.  It was not at all clear where members of the media were supposed to register. After a lot of wandering around aimlessly, reading the signs, and even following [conflicting] directions from EB staff, it became clear that the punters' queue was blocking the media registration spot.  Having not yet been registered as a member of the press, it looked like I was simply pushing in. 
  2. The press were not welcome.  Even then, I did not receive the press kit that I was originally supposed to receive in the mail, so I basically received less information than the punters.  I probably missed several press conferences and I didn't find the write-up room until I was ready to leave.  I could count the members of the press in attendance on both hands - most of them were either photographers or fansite bloggers - so you can imagine how empty those press conferences probably were.  In retrospect, I find it incredibly hard to believe that Peter Moore did not have time for an interview.  Aside from all that, I had to line up with the "VIPs" who actually paid extra for their status, just to get my hands on the latest games.  I don't know, maybe I was being too nice and I could have pushed in, but I shouldn't have had to.
  3. Videogames are dead.  This is a gaming expo and yet I spent the first hour or so watching videogames on a giant screen.  Oh, and motorbikes.  About half an hour of motorbikes.  Don't get me wrong, their stunts were impressive to say the least, but last time I checked, this thing was about videogames.  At this point they were beginning to look like an afterthought.
  4. The lost art of carefully crafted demos.  And when I finally got my hands on the games, I had to sit through five minutes worth of cutscenes just to get to the actual game part!  Main offenders: Uncharted 3, The Darkness II, Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Mass Effect 3.  Even then, these demos were old - in fact, they were the same ones shown at E3 in May.  So while people are playing three hours of Skyrim over at a comic convention in New York, we're watching a 25-minute video at a gaming expo.  Go figure.
  5. Sega still has no idea what they're doing with Sonic the Hedgehog.  Sure, half the levels were 2D, and Sonic nearly felt like Sonic control-wise, but the level design is simply not there.  It's as though the multi-tiered City Escape level was randomly cobbled together.
  6. Player agency is king.  My games of show: Saints Row: The Third and Mario Kart 7.  Why?  They were the only two that let me just play the friggin' game!
  7. Skyrim is great and all, but it ain't no Fallout.  Elder Scrolls V looked very pretty, and there's certainly no shortage of things to do in it, but a post-nuclear Washington DC still trumps a Tolkien fantasy land any day.  The Dungeons and Dragons card was played out long ago.
  8. Gamers love Battlefiend, but they hate Origin.  I have to confess, even I was impressed with Battlefield 3 and its Frostbite 2 engine.  I was even more impressed with Peter Moore's ability to take the anti-Origin heckling in his stride.  Despite all the negative press they've been getting, I think EA is one of the few publishers with a clear vision of where gaming is headed over the next few years.
  9. Small things amuse...The most impressive feature of Halo Anniversary is the ability to switch between old Halo 1 and new Halo 1 at the press of a button.  I just couldn't stop doing it!
  10. The venue was great.  Really great.  Sure, the Gold Coast is a bit of a drive, but parking at the Exhibition Centre was plentiful, and only ten bucks.  That's unheard of in Brisbane, which would have been brought to its knees by an event like this.  Apparently there was a hail storm in the Gold Coast during the afternoon - I did not find this out until two days later!

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