Another year and to our good fortune, another EGX event for us all to enjoy. Going to one of the UK’s biggest gaming events is always a highlight in my calendar. It would need to be in order for me to have to wake up at some ridiculous time of the morning and travel for hours on a less than perfect train with the intention of queuing up for 1-2 hours to play 5-10 mins of a game. Thankfully each and every year the EGX event has held up its end of the bargain and provided some great memories and opportunities to play some new and interesting games.
So after travelling for upwards of 4 hours and starting off at what felt like the middle of the night, resisting the urge to swap my morning cup of tea for something in the RedBull family, I finally made it to Birmingham International station and then the walk around the endless corridors to the NEC event arena. EGX 2016 had begun.
Security on the way from Birmingham international station and the event itself was strangely random. I saw two separate groups of people being stopped to have their bags checked which is perfectly fine yet a male walked past me in camo trousers a black t shirt and more importantly I guess, a leg holster carrying what I hope at least was an imitation pistol that from the outside at least would be hard to tell if it was real or not. The guy wasn’t dressed in any discernible cosplay or wearing any kind of badge or ID yet security either missed this guy or chose not to at least ask a question or two. With so much going on in the world I would hope that this was an isolated incident and all the other cosplayers attending not only EGX 2016 and other events all over the UK would be more aware of carrying imitation weapons in public and giving a bad impression on the gaming community and its sub-cultures. It would be too easy to give the media more fevered ammunition to come down on us than they already try to wield. From the other cosplayers i saw at the event I am happy to report that, at least from what I saw, was an isolated case and hopefully another security checkpoint or official stopped him and pointed out his wardrobe error.
I did have to laugh when we showed our tickets and were given the wristbands. Someone in quality control clearly had a bad day and misspelled Birmingham! It took a while for some people to find the mistake as its just one of those things that you would have expected them to catch before printing on a couple of hundred thousand wristbands. Oh well, better luck next time.
The drinks brand fro last year were also back to help energize the crowd. Tornado energy drink was given out to any and all who happened to come even close to one of their stands. I have a feeling more than one person left EGX this year vibrating rather than walking. Energy drinks are all well and good but knocking back 6-8 large cans while standing still in lines for hours on end can only end in trouble. Still, it was funny to watch those who hadn’t figured that out and waited i a queue for hours only to have to abandon their position and make a mad dash to the nearest toilet facilities to empty their bladders and then doing it all over again. Some people will never learn.
Queues were huge which means two things, gaming is very popular and so is the EGX show and more importantly, it took a good long time to not only get into the event but also to see anything of interest but we’ve come to expect that now at an event as large as this. That said, the queues this year did seem to be handled better. I didn’t feel as though i was a pig in some overcrowded pen. The event organizers have managed to use the Space that the NEC provides better and we all thank them for it.
With so many games on show at EGX 2016 it was impossible to see them all so I picked out a few titles that stood out to me for different reasons. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at just how much and how diverse a range was on offer to satisfy almost every gamer out there.
I Got some time to check out this indie of title and glad that I did. It’s a Mars exploration/crafting/building/repairing/stay out of danger mix of gaming with a big building/construction name attached to it. The demo on show is an early build but graphically it looked pretty impressive. Colours were bright yet highlighted the open bleakness of Mars. Maneuvering both yourself and the vehicle felt pretty weighty and what you would imagine a multi tonne JCB on Mars to feel like.
Speaking to the team they managed to answer a few questions I had plus added their own couple of surprises. Firstly this wasn’t just a pie in the sky imagination of Mars. They are in fact working with an astrophysicist to get the terrain, the dangers and the overall feel of what Mars must be like so there’s some serious science stuff going on here. Those electricity storms on Mars must play havoc with the WiFi there and as for the meteorite storms, well lets just say if you are planning to one day live on Mars, make sure you have good insurance! They also went on to say that they had approached JCB about doing a game at the exact time that JCB themselves were talking about doing the same so it was a enthusiastic match made in heaven.
They also went on to describe the close working relationship they have with pc gaming specialist, Razer. They spoke about how the keyboard and mouse actually accentuate the game with the mouse lighting up on the left side to indicate your oxygen levels and on the right side for your health levels. The keyboard also has light indicators for various activities in game. JCB Pioneer Mars will also be coming to console although they couldn’t give any kind of date. They are eager to bring it out to console gamers with some adaptions which I think the PS4 and in particular the light bar on the dualshock controller will work well.
The game is coming to beta test soon so if you are interested check them out and sign up to take part, I have done and look forward to see just how this game develops. Overall, a great indie game with plenty of potential. Well worth checking out.
The GT race pods were out again at an EGX but this time for for the upcoming Gran Turismo Sport on the PS4. A nominal wait in a snaking queue gave me a chance to see just how this latest edition to the franchise holds up.
This is a tricky one for me as it’s well known that I’m a Gran Turismo fan. To be honest it’s a game I’m going to pick up regardless as it will be a new Gran Turismo title and more so than that, it will be on the PS4 but is it a new game with significant upgrades……not really.
It looks beautiful but then again it always did. Trying it out on a Thrustmaster steering wheel with impressive force feedback made it feel like a really interactive and responsive game. I feel that that statement might be more of a positive for Thrustmaster rather than Gran Turismo. It handled well and the cars looked and responded very well and the brands hatch track looked fresh and familiar. Looking at it objectively though and this is based on a very short demo race, 3-4 minutes, it doesn’t look or feel much different from the likes of GT5 and GT6. Where this game will be excellent or fail is in its menu system, it’s car choices and more importantly it’s online capabilities. None of which were shown off during EGX.
This might all sound like a negative take on Gran Turismo Sport but I assure you its not. The trouble with the GT series is that it’s a victim of its own success. The previous iterations of Gran Turismo looked, felt, played and sold amazingly well. Moving this on to a new console with more power and abilities sounds like a good idea but if you throw all sorts of new features at it that aren’t necessarily needed then you could risk ruining a perfectly good game. Where the previous titles were let down was their online lobby system and that is something that needs to be addressed. I’m sure that it will be for GT Sport, but it’s not something that they are willing or at this time, able to show off. Not ideal when this game was originally slated for release in a couple of months before the delay announcement. I did ask about getting some video footage but I was curiously told no ‘as the game is in an EARLY stage of development we don’t want video footage shown’! I do hope that the representative is somewhat confused as this hopefully isn’t in an early stage and we will see it somewhere in early 2017. My confidence in this isn’t as high as it used to be though.
Overall, the same beautiful driving sim it’s always been. The next dose for its fans addiction yet we don’t know when or how big this dosage will be.
Well, this is a game I was looking forward to seeing. This is a game I’m still looking forward to seeing. That’s because I haven’t had a chance to see it yet. The reason? Well to be brutally honest, it’s piss poor communication from the PlayStation representatives. Apparently you had to book your place to go and watch a video for Horizon Zero Dawn but nowhere at the entrance or in fact anywhere else that I could see did it say that. Turning up I saw a nice clear sign saying that the video would launch every 30 mins. Great I thought, I’ll happily wait that long to get to see more on this upcoming game that was originally slated to come out pretty much as I write this. However, as I join the queue a representative from PlayStation walks up and says that this is an appointment only video and all the appointments are booked so you can’t see it. If I had known this I would have made a bee line there to make said appointment. Unfortunately many, many……many people were disappointed with this and so I will have to wait and see about this game when we can get more information later down the line.
In another section of the PlayStation exhibition they were showing off the Horizon Zero Dawn gameplay demo video that was shown off during the PS4 Slim and Pro presentation on a Sony 4K screen so it did give a chance for people to see some of Horizon Zero Dawn even if it was something that they had probably seen before although this time you could actually see some difference in what 4K can provide. The game does look amazing and is still on my list of games to take notice of. Overall, can’t really say anything about the game good or bad. Just bad organisation and communication from the PlayStation team there.
Thats it for part one. In part two i will talk about more of the games that I spent time with including a really interesting indie title that I can see doing great things on both PC and console in the not to distant future As well as what I thought of the next installment in the Mafia franchise, Mafia 3 and not forgetting a look at what Sony believes the future of gaming to be, the PlayStation VR headset.
Until then, pick up your Joypad and press play!