Eurogamer 2013: Assassin’s Creed 4, The Sims 4 and LEGO Marvel

Having gone to Eurogamer with the intentions of sampling some games I might not otherwise entertain, I walked around spying the likes of FIFA 14, Forza, Minecraft, and thought “Not really my thing. Best to stick to what I know I like.”

What I know I like is Assassin’s Creed, so I headed to the demo booth to play the new title, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. The queue was a little daunting, with some people criticising the gameplay of those already participating the demo. One comment that I overheard was, “That guy’s a retard.. He’s died three times in two minutes.”

As I neared the beginning of the queue I prayed that I would be on a station that others couldn’t see; my assassin skills in AC:3 left a lot to be desired, and I really struggled with the change in combat mechanics. As luck would have it, I was ushered to a TV and console (PS4 again, that race is yours, Sony) which was in full view of the queuing public.

As the demo started, it was a bit of a let down. Not in technical terms, but the demo didn’t really ask you to do anything specific. Whereas Tearaway and Octodad took you through a mission, AC:4 just left you to your own devices. I spent much of my time sailing around, before attacking a passing ship (I won the battle, thankfully), but was all too aware that I wasn’t experiencing much on the ground stuff.

I hopped off the ship and swam to the nearest island. The water mechanics in the game are breathtaking; there was a tide, meaning I had to swim faster just to get anywhere, and there were also some quite big waves. Sitting about a foot away from the scene, I can honestly say I was getting a bit seasick. Once on the island, I headed towards the nearest synchronisation point, because, well, it’s Assassin’s Creed, and you’ve just got to really. As I got to the top of the point and looked around, I could see just how spectacular the graphics were, and just how much effort has gone into the game. Definitely one to get excited about.

Sticking with my theme of “what I know I like”, I joined the main arena and headed to the eight or so computer stations showing The Sims 4. I’d have liked a demo of the gameplay, like in The Sims and The Sims 2, with good old Bella and Mortimer Goth (or their new generation equivalents, but there is plenty of time for that between now and the 2014 release the game is currently slated for.

The demo was in fact, the create-a-Sim screen. Plenty of fun to be had, and I’ve spent more time than I care to mention creating Sims in the past. The create-a-Sim screen of The Sims 4 really shows just how far the game has come. You can customize every inch of your Sim, from pupil size, to the way they walk, as well as some of the same old features; athleticism, bust size etc.

As I’ve already said, I would have liked the demo to show a bit more of the new features the game has to offer, especially surrounding the new ways of interacting with people and how moods affect certain situations. What I did play was enough to get me excited about The Sims 4, and the potential it has.

To round off my Eurogamer experience I spent some time with LEGO Marvel Superheroes. If there’s anything I love, it’s a LEGO game, and LEGO Marvel looks set to build my infatuation.

Capitalising on the continued success of superhero films, LEGO and Travellers Tales have ventured into creating favourite Marvel characters as little blockheads. I was lucky enough to play a level in story mode and then experience all free-play has to offer. Though a lot of the characters were unlocked, I am looking forward to seeing which characters made the cut and we’ll get to experience in LEGO form.

LEGO Marvel follows the same game mechanics as previous LEGO games, continuing with the new introduction of voices for the characters. I anticipate enjoying the game, I’ve never been disappointed with a LEGO title, and with a different trophy lists for PS Vita and PS3, am looking forward to having two new platinum trophies in the bag.

Eurogamer 2013: DualShock 4, Tearaway and Watch_Dogs

Eurogamer wasn’t just about games for me, it was the opportunity to see new hardware in operation and experience it before many of my peers.

Ergonomic and comfortable, the DualShock 4 is a work of design genius. The controller has the same familiarity as its predecessors; picking the controller up, you know exactly what to do, what you’ve always done.

The controller manages to make things fresh and exciting with the introduction of the touchpad, share button and light bar. Unfortunately, the games that I played at Eurogamer didn’t utilise these features so I’ll have to wait for the PS4 to come out, like everyone else, to see what the controller has to offer and how it will fully impact on my gaming lifestyle.

Moving onto more games, I headed to the Tearaway station. Tearaway is a PlayStation Vita game from the creators of Little Big Planet, Media Molecule. The game has a distinctly similar feel to the studios previous releases, with a cutesy character exploring a world filled with other cute characters.

The demo serves as an introduction to the game mechanics, showcasing just how much the game utilises the Vita’s many features. This is perhaps to it’s detriment as at points throughout the demo I saw my own face beamed into the Tearaway world, this may be exciting for younger gamers to see their faces in-game, but for me felt slightly unnecessary.

There was a point in the demo where a character wanted me to take a photo of him wearing a crown I had made him, and the Vita’s camera sound went off. This puts me off a bit as I see the Vita as my out-of-the-house gaming device, and as the noise can’t be turned off and isn’t muted through the use of headphones, it means everyone will hear the sounds; on the train, in the office.

However, having said all the negatives, Tearaway was a perfectly lovely game, just what you’d expect from Media Molecule, if not a little predictable. I felt obligated to give up my seat at the station, but could happily have kept playing if not for the small queue forming behind me, though I think I was at the end of the demo anyway. Tearaway looks to be a must-own game for the PS Vita, and a real boon to the back catalogue as many gamers look to the Vita as a cross-functional hardware for the PS4.

Next up, into the Watch_Dogs booth. There was quite a queue for the game, but I had anticipated that, and settled in for the long haul. Once into the booth, which was sectioned off from the rest of the world, the audience were seated to watch a demonstration of one of the missions played in the game. Interestingly, the game was being played on a PS4; a signifier that Sony are winning the race? Time will tell.

Watch_Dogs, a sandbox game, appeared to handle much like a Grand Theft Auto or a Saints Row, but as it wasn’t an interactive demo, I can only go by what I’ve seen, not from what I’ve played. The hacking software used throughout the game looks easy to use, but at the hands of a professional gamer, it probably would.

Though I found the Watch_Dogs presentation interesting, it’s completely different watching someone playing something than getting to experience it yourself. As the game has multiple ways of completing missions, it would have been good to at least see the variety, rather than just the way the developers want you to see it. The game still looks like an interesting IP, and one that I’ll definitely get along with my next generation console.

Eurogamer Expo 2013: Octodad

This past Thursday I attended the Eurogamer Expo at London’s Earl’s Court. The four day event gives the opportunity for gamers to get hands-on with some of the biggest upcoming releases and to experience some indie gems that might otherwise have passed under their radar. Eurogamer 2013 featured some special guests everyone wanted to meet; the PS4 and Xbox One.

The reason I went to Eurogamer was to get hands-on with some new titles. I’d never imagined that the first game I’d play there would be the most talked about indie game of the moment, on the most anticipated console of the next generation.

Straight into the expo and my heart sank at the sight of the PS4 queue. Wanting to get my bearings a bit more, I wandered round, still in the Sony area naturally. Behind the main PS4 section where AAA titles such as Knack and inFamous: Second Son were being showcased, was a slightly smaller area of about 10 stations where some indie titles were being played. The best part? No queues. At all.

I jumped at the chance to get acquainted with the PS4, and grabbed a controller to begin the demo level of Octodad: Dadliest Catch. Before long, I was acutely aware of a small queue forming behind me. Two boys in their 20s shuffled forwards to ask me about the game, which took me aback – everywhere I look, everything I read has been filled with Octodad, it’s been everywhere in my life.

I explained the plot synopsis whilst the boys watched me play, sniggering at Octodad’s awkward movements. I passed the controller over, eager show how difficult the controls are and restore any damage done to my gaming reputation.

Each limb of Octodad is controlled by a different button; L2 for the left legs, R2 for the right legs, L1 to switch to arms which are then controlled by the analogue sticks. Movement in the game felt nigh on impossible, especially when one of the primary objectives of the game is to act as normally as possible so that the humans don’t suspect you’re an octopus. This makes for some frustrating moments as you attempt to navigate Octodad to a certain point, pick up a specific item and drop it in an exact place.

After completing the demo I walked away with mixed feelings. Sure, Octodad is a new, exciting concept to take forwards to the PS4, but damn, that man-octopus thing is hard to control. In the brief 10 minute play I had, I definitely felt some anger surfacing. On a larger scale as a full game, I can picture there being some controller-throwing moments. And boy, what a controller….