It’s been over a week now since my short weekend excursion to London took place arm in arm with my sidekick in all things I do – Tizz. We set off on the Saturday morning on the train looking forward to a long day of seeing pals, playing games and genera London fun. Arriving at Earls Court pretty much 15 minutes after the Expo was due to open was pretty good timing on our part and it didn’t take us long to shuffle ourselves through the slowing moving queue and in through the front doors. This was the first gaming expo I’d ever been to, though not my first expo as I’m a huge fan of the London Expo as well. Once inside we made our way to the awesome Insert Coin Tee’s booth first to check our their tee’s in person – unfortunately they’d sold out of the one Tizz had wanted to buy – but at least we got to say hello 🙂
After wandering around a little while getting our bearings we decided to split up in order to get the best use out of our time – after all we both wanted to play slightly different games. I went straight over to Mass Effect 3, but on arrival at the booth I found that it was all on the Xbox 360. I’m a PS3 girl mainly and more often that not I’m a PC gamer and when it comes to games like Mass Effect 3 and Skyrim I was definitely NOT prepared for the Xbox controller. Considering that the majority of gameplay available was concentrated on shooting the bad guys I opted for not embarrassing myself in-front of the crowd of onlookers as I knew I wouldn’t pick up the controls quick enough.
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Next on my list was Skyrim – in fact it was probably the one I wanted to play the most but I’d seen the queue for it earlier and thought I’d wait a little while before going back. Again it was playable on the Xbox 360 but fortunately they had such a great set up that it made it slightly better. With 4 rows of screens on which to play and seats at each, timed gameplay of 15 minutes and some more sheltered areas where you couldn’t be watched I was more inclined to have a go. I waited no longer than half an hour in the queue before strolling in and sitting down in the middle exactly where I wanted to be – sheltered from the beady eyes of all the onlookers. It took me a few minutes to get used to the controls and how they differ from the PS3 but I eventually made my way excitedly out into the world of Skyrim. And oh what a world it was!
I chatted to a few locals, killed a few evil-looking woman who screamed at me, got attacked by a band of marauders, swam down river for a while and generally explored the rich and varied landscape happily in my own little world. Or at least that’s how I’d like to remember it – in reality I had a guy asking me if I knew what the controls were every 3 seconds and trying to show me tricks – which I had to take my earphones off for every time. He usually asked me just as I was being attacked and all I could think was OH MY GOD GO AWAY I ONLY HAVE 15 MINUTES! and then, then to top it all off the game crashed on me……trust XBOX! and I had to start again – which is useless when you only have 3 minutes left and the guy who reboots the game for you take 2 minutes and 54 seconds to do so.
However stupid Xbox people, I refuse to let you detract from an experience I have been waiting for, for oh so long. I simply cannot wait for Skyrim to be released in November and I really hope that Tizz updates his computer soon so it will run as beautifully as I’ve seen so far 😉
After wandering around a little bit more – collecting our PSVita fast passes that Tizz and I had won online and then meeting up with a few friends I ventured over to the Nintendo stand for a glimpse at the 3DS. Despite having been out for a while now this was the first time I’ve playing on it and it gave me a lot to think about. I do actually think that the 3D aspect of the gaming is extremely clever and who ever came up with that idea is just genius. In practice however it took a lot of getting used to and playing with the controls to actually ensure that neither of my eyes were telling me that they were in pain/uncomfortable. But after getting the settings just right I went on to play both Super Mario 3D Land and Pokemon Rumble Blast.
I really loved Super Mario although as usual there were levels I was really bad at so I just avoided them. As for Pokemon rumble I was actually pleasantly surprised. Up until now I’ve only played the Pokemon games where you just go on a quest to collect them all, but actually I was quite enjoying this format of fighting as the Pokemon themselves. I definitely have to say I’d like to get one a 3DS at some point and there are some good games around for it, but at the moment it doesn’t beat the top handheld on my list – The PSVita 🙂
As we strolled casually up to the PSVita stand and noticed the long queues that stood either side of the entrance, with many a fed up face amongst them, it was with great relief that we realised how lucky we were to have gotten a fast pass. We walked straight up to the entrance at our allotted time and were let straight in, to the disgust of those next to us who had been waiting for over 2 hours to do the same. I didn’t feel that guilty though, after all I’d gone to the effort of checking for competitions, checking Facebook pages and the like just to make sure we made the most of the expo. We were all given a game to play on tiny cards that were already crackled from over handling and after much swappage of the games, we mostly came to the games we wanted to play (apart from Tizz but then he got to flirt with the booth babe so strangely there wasn’t any complaining :/). I very luckily happened to get my hands on Little Big Planet – a game I already love on the PS3 and was thrilling at seeing how it might work on the Vita.
I sat myself down on a stool next to a really nice young girl and she began to explain all the different features of the Vita and how it interacts with the game features. Starting by pulling a pair of curtains apart with my fingers on the front touch screen I knew this was going to be good. The girl was really encouraging and she let me find my own way, gradually introducing new features such as the rear touchpad and the movement sensors when you tip the console and I had a great time making my way through the levels available. When I first heard about the PSVita – watching the videos from E3 in a state of extreme excitement, I knew that this might finally be something I would be interested in. I’ve never been a PSP fan, purely because I didn’t understand the need. But the new PSVita is so much more than just playing games on a handheld. It utilises your hands and movements and emerges you in a type of gaming that as yet we’ve only seen glimpses of from the Nintendo DS. It’s safe to say that I’m definitely saving up for one of these soon.
That was it for my stint at actually playing some games – I did have a go at some of the indie arcade ones and I would definitely recommend Greedy Bankers for anyone with an Ipad as it’s ridiculously addictive. I saw a bit of Tintin too which I’d been looking forward to but I was slightly disappointed to discover that they looked like they had just ripped off Prince of Persia with the gameplay. I won’t judge though – it might have simply been that one section of the game and for the rest of you who are curious – here’s the trailer for it:
That’s pretty much it for my expo experience apart from two little pieces of advice for next year:
- More merchandise booths – more tees, more game related things to buy and look at – it would help to fill time in-between gaming, distract people so that queues weren’t as long and everyone wants game related merch 🙂
- Less XBOX more PC and PS3 – the whole thing felt like it was a sponsored by Xbox event – disappointing for fans of games that usually run best on specific platforms.
Oh and check out my Flickr account for the lovely pictures of our hotel that I took and a few of the things we saw whilst in London.