Eurogamer Expo 2011 Recap

22nd September 2011 and the EuroGamer Expo looms. Catching the first of an impossible network of underground trains for an early arrival, my friends Krishan, Sham and I begin our adventure in the luscious gaming jungle. Not before an hour of queuing…

I had purchased the Full Day pass which granted me access to the expo between 11am-7pm, trailing behind the early bird ticket holders whom gained access to everything before the regular visitors. After arriving at 10am, myself, Krishan and Sham queued for a good hour until we entered Earls Court.

As soon as we entered the expo we were struck with awe, and like children in a candy shop shook our heads in disbelief, wondering where to start. To keep things simple we walked in a straight line to be greeted by the Nintendo 3DS booth, where they had The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of time 3D on demo. I’m a massive fan of the N64 version, favouring it over many new releases to date as one of my favourite games of all time. The newly updated graphics and compatibility with the DS console made the legend become reborn. It felt fresh and retained the extraordinary vibe that the original adventure emitted. You can find a full review of Orcarina of Time 3D here.

Just opposite the Nintendo booth stood a line of brand new shiny televisions presenting an overly familiar Halo title. Oh yes, Halo Anniversary. System link matches were being hosted over multiple consoles so I jumped straight in to get a hands on experience of another one of my favourite refurbished classics.

The official partners of The EuroGamer Expo this year were Alienware who were holding a ‘raffle’ for one lucky visitor to walk away with a top of the range Alienware gaming laptop worth over $3140 (£2000). Simply registering for the competition is all it took to be in with the chance of winning one of the best laptops on the market, so naturally I signed up. No news yet, but I have an inkling that I’m going to win…

The first developer session of the day was a very entertaining presentation from Michael Denny (Senior Vice president, Sony Worldwide Studios, Europe), on PlayStation Vita. He had a lot to demonstrate on PlayStation’s new innovative console. Tapping away he showcased the features exclusive to the PlayStation Vita, such as a rear touch panel and multi-touch front OLED screen.

To demonstrate the capabilities of the new features, Michael played through a level of Wipeout 2048, LittleBigPlanet and Reality Fighters, providing the adoring fans a glimpse into the power of the Vita and what’s to come from this revolutionary handheld console.

A much deserved trip to KFC! My lunch break consisted of a lunchbox meal, with way too few chips! I complained and get 3 times as many 😉

Despite having an A level GCSE in geography, the afternoon consisted of losing ourselves in the wilderness of technology for prolonged amount of time. Finding the attractions proved to be no problem, instead finding Sham proved to be an issue, as his excited little head wobbled in any direction he fancied. We agreed to buy a leash to keep him held back (No homo).

2pm came, just under half of our time at EuroGamer had expired and we eagerly travelled to the next developer session, a demonstration of the much anticipated OnLive Console by CEO, Steve Perlman. Having heard nothing about the console before, I was excited to see what the hype was all about after seeing so many advertisements at the Expo, including live demos and giveaways. The following is a justification as to why Steve Perlman is now my favourite person ever, on each seat for the presentation laid a bag. Within the bag a box, and inside that box was a FREE ONLIVE CONSOLE!

Every attendee truly astonished by the generosity of OnLive as we became one of the first ever individuals to own the console just a day after its release in the UK. Steve demonstrated all of OnLive’s capabilities and explained the services the console provided. He also asked for volunteers to play on the iPad’s OnLive program. Being the gaming enthusiast that I am, I opted to volunteer immediately, and wouldn’t you know I was chosen. I got in front of the masses and played a demo version of “Dustball” for the iPad. It took an instant for Steve to press a button and view my gameplay from the computer, a feature that is exclusive to the OnLive console, a concept that receives my full appreciation for its ingenuity. A full review of the OnLive console will be available soon on Esperino.

Having heard nothing about the console before the developer session, I gained an exceptional insight into this revolutionary console and its capabilities. Not only was the presentation fun and informative, it certainly grabbed a hold of the viewers and favoured everyone into supporting the ‘project’ to play and try out OnLive for themselves with their new console. The presentation was followed up by a Q & A and a huge round of applause.

During our continuous journey through the labyrinth of gaming phenomenon, we were approached by a dauntingly large camera and a lovely lady holding a microphone. Sony had chosen to interview visitors, questioning them on their passion for the company and their dedication to the platform. Not being a PlayStation owner myself, I ‘fibbed’ (English term, lie a little bit…) about having all the latest games and console released by Sony in hope I would someday become famous through the lens of a very expensive camcorder. We were asked several questions regarding Sony’s popularity amongst ourselves and our friends, the games we enjoy on a regular basis and our favourite experience of all time with PlayStation. Our newly claimed fame was doubled with a luxurious Batman figurine, of which were a hit amongst the other visitors whom ashamedly didn’t receive their free pet Batman 😉

Next came the moment I had anticipated all evening, Modern Warfare 3. Granted, the queue was huge and I didn’t feel like standing around for any more prolonged amounts of time, but I was confident my patience would be rewarded with some sexy Call of Duty action. The game was displayed on over 50 different bays, in which via system link you would play with the person next to you in a new mode unique to Modern Warfare 3, a type of spec-ops mode. The mode could be comparable to Gears of war 2’s “Horde” mode in which you fight for survival in a set location through as many rounds as possible. Modern Warfare 3 introduces new attributes to enhance the survival experience provided by recent FPS competitors. Expect a full insight and review of Modern Warfare 3 when it’s released!

Whilst at Eurogamer, I seized the opportunity to demonstrate my work and talk to professionals in the industry, asking for any advice or tips for getting my foot in the door. The careers fair hosted booths from several different companies; giving out advice, looking for staff and advertising games courses in the UK. The staff on location offered me plenty of good advice and praised me on my current efforts into shining out amongst the rest of the students in my position also looking for that perfect job.

This hour consisted mainly of wandering about and playing a bit of everything we could see. We caught wind of a tournament for uncharted 3. With absolutely no experience of the multiplayer aspect and an optimistic outlook we entered for the sake of it. 8 players entered and the challenge begun…

…We all lost.

Our 3rd developer session was by Richard Lemarchand, Co-Designer at Naughty Dog, and Nolan North, Actor and man of many voices, known best for his work voice acting in numerous video games, including Nathan Drake in Uncharted 2. Nolan and Richard talked a lot about the mass production of Uncharted 3, including the improved motion capture technology, use of new dynamic sea technology and light map technology, in particularly cinematic scenes in the game. Nolan North and other voice actors were stretched to their capabilities in order to provide realistic and potentially moving cut scenes.

We were given an insider view of this process, including deleted scenes of some of the more intense stages of the acting and outtakes from more difficult acting scenes. The session was particularly fun to watch as the two speakers acted as some sort of fluent comedy act whilst discussing the Uncharted series in a very informative manner. During the presentation we were treated to exclusive gameplay clips of the new title, a scene where our main character Nathan Drake ventures into an isolated village in the middle of the desert, a scene that was exclusive to Eurogamer 2011! It’s fair to say, I felt privileged.

As the Day came to a close, our legs ached and our minds were boggled. The Expo had really taken a lot out of us with so much to see in so little time (Trust me, 8 hours was nowhere near enough browsing time!).

With what little time we had left, we took the opportunity to browse around some of the booths we missed on the first run round, this included Mario Kart 7, Super Mario 3D Land, sonic Generations and more. We squeezed in every ounce of gaming we could, and travelled back home to rest after what was an exciting and tiring day.