OXCGN @ EB Games Expo 2013
Day Three Snapshots
by Daniel Geikowski
©2013 Daniel Geikowski
The final day of the EB Games Expo saw OXCGN get a look at some titles they might have missed over the weekend.
It was a day to relax and take in the whole spectacle. Walk around, chat to gamers about their favourite experience so far, and go back for a second round of what games we enjoyed the most.
When OXCGN wasn’t lining up for their 37th round of Titanfall, we got a look at these upcoming games.
Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z
Thoughts: I didn’t really know what to expect from Tecmo Koei’s Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, other than assuming it would have some hack-and-slash, combo-chaining gameplay.
Were my expectations blown out of the way.
Not only does Yaiba provide this type of gameplay, but it turns everything up to 11.
Yaiba exists in the same Ninja Gaiden universe as the previous titles, with players taking on the role of the ninja Yaiba.
The beginning sees Yaiba and series protagonist Ryu Hayabusa doing battle, in which Ryu slices apart the brazen Ninja, killing him.
Yaiba is then rebuilt with cybernetic parts from a mysterious organisation, who then goes on a quest for revenge, all the while dealing with a zombie infestation.
Ninja Gaiden Z is a more adult take on the series, with Yaiba himself full of profanites and violent tendencies.
The atmosphere follows suit too.
One section I got to experience saw me tasked with blowing up a Panty Store. Instead of using simple explosives, Yaiba threw a zombie behind the wheel of a truck carrying flammable liquid, which proceeded to launch it between the fake legs above the roof.
The legs spread as the truck smashes through, exploding the store in a shower of panties.
It’s this balance between violence and humour that makes Yaiba stand out from the crowd. The visual style really assists Yaiba in this regard, while also adding a more unique feel.
In a first for the series, the game utilises a cell-shaded cartoon effect, which really makes it feel like a graphic novel.
Vibrant red blood covers the screen as the player hacks through hordes of the undead, and combat is quite fun to experience.
It’s really easy to chain together combos, using both light and heavy attacks, interspresed with grabs and finishing moves.
While my time with Yaiba was relatively short, fans of the hack-and-slash genre will no doubt find enjoyment with the game.
The visuals are still a little choppy, but I have no doubt Yaiba will be a fantastic title once it recieves some dedicated polish.
Thoughts: For those racing fans who might not totally enjoy the simulated racing experience, Ivory Tower’s The Crew may interest you.
The Crew is an open world racing title that caters to both single and multiplayer experiences.
I got a hands-on demo in a Nissan Skyline, connected with three other players. Well all started in different points across America, where we could explore the open world.
As I drove across the world, there were various objectives littered across the map I could interact with.
As I screamed down the highway on route to a marker, I could earn experience by weaving through highlighted slalom gates.
I then took a detour through a canyon, which dynamically saw me enter a race with 8 A.I racers. After showing them who’s boss, all myself and the three other players were notified to head to Miami.
This prompted the multiplayer component of The Crew.
We were tasked with working together in order to take down a drug runner driving a Hummer. Our sports cars would be no match for it, so we therefore needed some modifications.
Our cars slipped into the garage, where it was visually taken apart and rebuilt with off-road components.
It’s a nice touch seeing all the detail in the cars’ internal components before it’s all slapped back together.
Multiplayer was different than other racers. While we had to work together to take the Hummer down, we competed against each other to earn the most points.
This greats a dynamic new layer to the tired racing series.
Overall, the cars look great, but the open world has left a little to be desired. There was a lot of clipping through objects, especially random pederstrians who’d run in front of my vehicle.
The driving felt a little off to me also. While it was sufficient for the most time, at certain points it felt really slippery, constantly sliding all over the place even at low speeds.
Collisions are a bit weird too, but it may be because I’m used to simulated racers. While some direct collisions see your car totaled in a nice dynamic camera angle, most collisions see you bounce off with very little loss of speed.
The Crew looks to be refreshing title, even with these issues. It was pretty thrilling to watch all four of us players take different routes in order to cut off the drug runner.
That seems to be the hook for The Crew, providing players with a open world experience that encourages both single and multiplayer gaming.
It could be one of those surprise hits for racing fans looking for something new.
Forza Motorsport 5
Thoughts: Forza Motorsport 5 may very well be the premier racing game out there.
What immediately hits you is the high quality of detail put into each and every component. Whether it be the menu system, the Career Mode overhaul, the tracks, or most importantly the cars, Forza 5 oozes polish and style.
The developers themselves put it best. They believed the car detail in Forza 4 was perfect. Maybe too perfect, and in order to make them perfect, they need to be imperfect.
The guys at Turn 10 explained that real world cars show signs of human touch. Whether that be the signs of machining on the wheels, Armor All missing on sections of a tyre, or wax buffed onto the car body.
It really works to make the vehicles in Forza 5e realistic than ever before. Light shines differently off of the car’s various materials, of which the player can explore every inch.
But most of all, Forza 5 is still a real joy to play.
Cars handle superbly, and the demo I played had me race around Laguna Seca in the new flashy McLaren P1.
Cars feel really solid, with the controller on the Xbox One working to provide precise feedback to the player.
For example, you can feel the rumble in each side of the controller as the car shudders from side to side under sudden braking and acceleration.
Tracks have received a nice coat of paint as well, being pain-stakingly recreated by the guys at Turn 10 to ensure the definitive, realistic racing experience.
Each virtual track has the exact same camber, corner apex, dip, rise and imperfection of their real world counterpart.
After the one lap dash, I have nothing but praise to give to Forza 5. It looks of the highest quality, thanks in part to the technology of the Xbox One.
Racing fans will not be disappointed when picking up the game on the Xbox One’s November 22nd launch.
Battlefield 4 Multiplayer
Thoughts: Battlefield 4 is a real step up from Battlefield 3 in scale and power and DICE should be commended on it.
The EB Expo 2013 demo of Battlefield 4‘s multiplayer mode featured a single map, Paracel Storm, and pitted two opposing teams, Russian and Chinese military forces, against each other. The map is not currently available in the BETA.
This map features two large dynamic set pieces; a dangerous tropical storm that provides mobility, and visibility changes and destroyer that can be crashed into the island chain, causing the map layout to change.
The game mode that was demoed is called “Obliteration”. The two teams must first race to collect a bomb, which appears randomly around the central area of the map, then run the bomb to one of the enemy’s MCOM stations and protect it until it can be detonated. The first team to destroy all three of the enemy’s stations wins the round.
This game mode worked very well on Paracel Storm as there are MCOM stations on the small islands surrounding the main island, creating small channels for attack boats, jet skis and turrets to protect the MCOMs. In the centre of the map buildings and courtyards allowed for plenty of infantry based long and close range combat.
The map really feel like it was built to accommodate a vast amount of player choice in what role they play on the battlefield. Using a sniper rifle I could easily match kill numbers with people using shotguns, assault rifles and those driving vehicles, it all feels very balanced.
The weapons and weapon customisation in Battlefield 4 are also quite successful, delivering the players a lot more choice than provided in previous iterations of the series. The guns also feel powerful and have a great sound to them, you really feel the feedback when you pull the trigger.
Battlefield 4 is shaping up to be one of those multiplayer games that plays so diversely that pretty much every player will have their own tales of action packed moments to share with friends, and with deeper Battlelog usage in game these tales can reach even more people. If you enjoy vehicles, carnage and FPS action, you can’t go wrong here.
Battlefield 4 is also in open BETA right now so you can check it out for yourself on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC!
Call of Duty: Ghosts
Thoughts: Infinity Ward’s new Call of Duty title, Ghosts, provides some new innovative gameplay and some more diverse game modes, but time will tell if that’s enough to break the monotonous nature the series has begun to fall into.
In the multiplayer demo I played two different and new game modes to the Call of Duty franchise, called ‘Cranked’ and ‘Blitz’.
Cranked is a game mode designed to speed up gameplay and eradicate camping and predictability. Once you get a kill you then have thirty seconds to kill another player or you will explode. Upon killing someone the timer resets. From a potential tactical start the game soon turns into a frantic rush of players trying to reset their timer.
I found that for the most part there was less camping, but it also ended up degenerating into a crazy shooting fest without much thought to players’ moves.
Blitz is an objective mode where players attempt to run through the enemy’s objective, while protecting their own. Upon stepping into the highlighted circle your team receives points and you are teleported back to your spawn. I found this mode more fun than Cranked as it encourages fast paced gameplay, but you also need to protect and defend your base.
The new weapons introduced are quite fun, especially the new ‘marksman rifle’ weapon class. Ghosts also introduces a host of new customisation that really was only teased in the demo, as only the very first weapons, attachments, perks and personalisation options were unlocked.
The maps and environments look great on the Xbox One, you can note a higher visual quality in Ghosts on next gen. One new feature that comes with the new consoles is the dynamic map elements. They occur on a much smaller scale than in Battlefield 4, but for the first time in a Call of Duty game they are certainly welcome and allow some tactical variations in the game maps.
Overall I did enjoy my time with Call of Duty: Ghosts, but it will be interesting to see if the full game will be enough to refresh the franchise. Keep this one on your radar.
Killzone: Shadow Fall Multiplayer
Thoughts: As the flagship SONY exclusive FPS, Killzone: Shadow Fall has a lot to live up to in order to succeed as a part of the PS4’s launch. Like most FPS titles at EB Expo, only the multiplayer portion was playable, but if first impressions are anything to go by, come November 29 I think I’ll be spending a fair amount of time in Shadow Fall’s multiplayer.
A fast pace is always nice in a shooter, but I found Killzone‘s pace to actually be quite slow. This is a good thing, in my opinion. Sure, you can still run and gun with the stunning looking SMGs and shotguns, but I found myself having a lot more fun with the game when played at a more slow and tactical pace.
From slinking around the dark map with an assault rifle to peering through the scope of a rifle, it felt good to use the gadgets available to you and really plan out your moves.
I started in a sniper role, landing several fast headshots in the early part of the match. Whilst the enemy is not tagged there are no bright visual markers to point to an enemy, a keen eye and patience is rewarded as players soon began to use the environment and gadgets to plan out attacks. Whilst going for the objectives I saw a few people running the whole way out in the open and they were usually mowed down fast. The people working together and maximising their grouped abilities faired much better.
The game looks and feels really good on the PS4, from incredible in-game graphics to meticulously designed weapons you have to admire. The maps have been designed to accommodate multiple play styles with a variety of elevated positions and secluded underground passages.
I’m very excited to play the full game when the PS4 launches. I really enjoyed the refreshing change of pace in the game, rewarding the cautious and thoughtful FPS player.
Pokemon X & Y
Thoughts: Pokemon X and Y represents a major game changer for Nintendo. As a game series that has been immensely popular the games haven’t seen a great deal of change, until now. Overloaded, in the best possible way, is probably how I can best describe this game.
From the jump to 3D on the 3DS platform to riding Pokemon and mega evolutions, this game is jam-packed with new content for fans young and old to enjoy. The EB Expo demo did not show any story details but took the player through an area that showcased many of the new features, and left you hungry for more.
First off the 3D graphics and Pokemon models look fantastic, as does the game world. The world feels more alive than ever before; besides the usual trainers out in the world to battle, Pokemon will roam around and live in the world unfolding right before your eyes, even reacting to the player. You can even ride some of them, and yes, it’s as cool as it sounds.
Another new feature of the game is an addition called Pokemon Amie – a nintendogs-esque minigame that allows you to use the 3DS’ touchpad and cameras to interact, feed, train and bond with your Pokemon like never before. Even though it feels aimed at a younger audience it felt good to give your Pokemon a scratch on the belly or a pat on the head after they succeeded in battle.
Add into the mix Pokemon who can now mega evolve in battle, customisable Pokemon and trainers, plus some brilliant looking multiplayer and Nintendo have found the recipe for a great and innovative game in a fan favourite series. It all plays so well.
If you own a 3DS and love Pokemon you can add X and Y to the ever growing list of games to play this year. I can’t wait to play the full game when it releases in less than a week, on October 12th.
Thanks once again for checking out our thoughts of the latest and greatest at this year’s EB Games Expo. Be sure to stay tuned to check out our detailed previews and interviews from the expo!
©2013 Daniel Geikowski