Connect with us

Preview

EB Games Expo 2013 – An Overview

Published

 on

EB Games Expo 2013 was certainly a thing that happened. If you don’t know, EB Expo is perhaps the largest congregation of top of the line impending video games in Australia. Housed in Sydney from October 4th to 6th, OnlySP’s southern hemisphere correspondents Damien and I were lucky enough to turn up and soak in the atmosphere, and the inevitable morass that 38,000 people results in, all Saturday. Aside from the crowds, costumes, neighbouring One Direction concert, and innumerable lost children, there were, of course, games. And games are our business.

All games mentioned in bold will get a write up in the coming days, plus more.

Booths definitely splashed out this year. Sony had a second (rather rickety) story, where the PlayStation 4s were housed, quite literally, above all the old tech. On the precarious perch were games such as Knack and Killzone Shadowfall. Microsoft likewise had two stories, although their bottom floor had Xbox Ones and their top floor had Titanfall playable.

All images official EB Expo

All images supplied by official EB Expo

While we’re doing tit-for-tat, Sony had a branded racing car and a handful of racing cockpit setups to test out Gran Turismo 6. Microsoft, meanwhile, also had a branded racing car, but, instead of racing booths, they had a Titanfall titan. Because Titanfall.

The Warner Bros. booth went with a DC vibe, with a life size statue of Batman, and the new Superman costume. WB were plugging the upcoming Arkham Origins hardest of all, with a hefty showing for Dying Light backing up Bats.

EA had a number of games, most of which were outsourced to other booths. Most notable was Titanfall, but they also had FIFA and Need for Speed: Rivals smattered around the showroom floor. EA’s main base of operations was located at the tank. Yes, the tank. Seems like everybody at game conventions has to have a tank these days. Around said tank was the Battlefield 4 booth, clad all in black.

The final big black-boothed shooter was, of course, Call of Duty Ghosts. Needless to say, it was pretty much the most trafficked booth of all. Minimal show, minimal bluster, all business, Ghosts sat along the very back wall of the expo, like the handsome brooding guy at the night club, attracting all the damn attention away from the immature little kiddies on the dance floor.

EBEXPOD2-89

Ubisoft actually had a dance floor, with actual dancers, as is the norm for their Just Dance booth. Professional dancers mixed it with the great unwashed, taking a handful of eager volunteers on to the dance floor to shake their proverbial groove thangs. Also at the Ubi booth was Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag, with a rather giant picture of Kenway in full regalia being painted live throughout the day. It looked pretty damn boss by about 5pm.

Nintendo had a relatively small showing this year, with a number of Wii U and 3DS games available to pick up and play. The main attraction was the small tourney stage Ninty had at its disposal, with Nintendo representatives MCing Pokemon battles, Mario Kart 9 races, and new Mario 3DS speed runs. One thing Nintendo knows how to do is create a family friendly community spirit, and it did that with aplomb.

Being EB Expo, a huge space was reserved for the titular store. Servicing the multitude of interested purchasers, the store took orders and preorders and sold merch and games. Unsurprisingly.

An area that saw a dramatic expansion this year was the community hub. Spread across a number of stages, the hub focused on community panels, discussions, and Q&A sessions. There was always something interesting going on and, while we didn’t really attend any sessions (well, Damien caught the InFamous Second Son dev Q&A), the crowds seemed completely engrossed.

Perhaps the cutest addition to this year’s Expo were the adorable balloon statues. Surrounding the kids’ activity area were some amazing game-related balloon sculptures. Made up of dozens and dozens of balloons twisted together, the statues were the coolest balloon animals I’ve ever seen. My favourite was the beautifully detailed Spyro, but the Sackboy was a close second.

EBEXPOD2-272

I am, no doubt, leaving many things out, such as the indie dev stalls, the League of Legends championships, various hardware company booths, and the fireworks display, but there was so much there and so little time and so many games to play. Over the next few days, Damien and I will be posting our impressions of those games we played and saw, and bring you the heads up for all the hottest (and not so hot) titles to keep an eye on, as well as our hands-on opinions of the PS4 and Xbox One.

Former Editor in Chief of OnlySP. A guy who writes things about stuff, apparently. Recovering linguist, blue pencil surgeon, and professional bishie sparkler. In between finding the latest news, reviewing PC games, and generally being a grumpy bossyboots, he likes to watch way too much Judge Judy. He perhaps has too much spare time on his hands. Based in Sydney, Australia. Follow him on twitter @lawksland.

Preview

Shattered: Tale of the Forgotten King is a Baffling Combination of Journey and Dark Souls

Published

 on

Mixing genres is a fairly common practice in video games. For some titles, the combination works well, such as Crypt of the Necrodancer‘s rhythmic dungeon crawling or Double Cross‘s use of light detective work between 2D platforming sections. Others do not fare so well, such as the out-of-place stealth sections in the Zelda-like Beyond Good and Evil, or the infamous jack-of-all-trades, master of none that Spore turned out to be. Shattered: Tale of the Forgotten King, unfortunately, falls into the latter category. Trying to combine the floaty exploration of Journey with the brutal combat of Dark Souls, the resulting mixture is a frustrating mess that will not please fans of either game. The first title by French independent developer Redlock Studio, this Early Access game requires a lot of work before it reaches the compelling gameplay experience it is aiming for.

The game begins with the protagonist waking up in Limbo, with no memory of who they are or how they got there. A tiny creature named Yaak takes pity on the player, suggesting that maybe the king Hypnos can help. The problem, however, is that Hypnos is the titular Forgotten King—a godlike figure, who mysteriously disappeared after creating the world. In his absence, demons have taken over the realms. On a journey to reclaim their identity, the protagonist just might be able to save the world along the way to finding the forgotten king.

The frustration begins as soon as the player gains control of the protagonist. Movement in  Shattered: Tale of the Forgotten King is floaty and imprecise. This annoyance might be minor in a platformer, but the inclusion of the punishing combat of a Souls-like makes it beyond frustrating. Enemy encounters are dangerous in this style of game, with the need to dodge, parry, and circle around combatants to avoid death. However, the controls simply do not have the precision needed for the task. When the game requires frame-perfect timing to parry an enemy’s attack but features a character that moves like molasses, more often than not the player will take a hit. Apart from the initial listless humanoids of Limbo, enemies are much faster and stronger than the protagonist, quickly taking down an unprepared player. The balance is so uneven that the first boss, a hulking creature with an enormous greatsword, feels like a fairer fight than the rooms full of small enemies since his attacks are slower and more clearly telegraphed. Often, the better choice is just to run past the enemies all together.

Should the player manage to defeat some enemies, they will gain essence, which is used in levelling up. Levelling up can only be done in Limbo, often requiring a fair bit of backtracking. Players can improve their vitality, stamina, strength, or mystic, but no explanation is given on what those statistics actually do. Putting one point into strength will result in the character doing one point of extra damage, but since even the smallest enemies have hundreds of health points, a lot of level ups would be required before the player would see any real benefit. 

The platforming aspect of the game fares little better. The player is given no indication of where they have to go or what they have to do, just the general imperative of finding the king. The Frontier D’Imbolt, the first real level in the game, has plains spread out in all directions, encouraging exploration. However, the map is also full of instant death; lava, spiky plants, ledges to be avoided, and, of course, aggressive enemies, making exploration much less inviting. The floaty controls cause problems here, too, with over-shooting a target platform a constant issue. This annoyance could be resolved somewhat with giving the character a shadow to see where they will land. The viewpoint will also randomly change from 3D to 2D, with no real change in gameplay. The change seems to be purely for aesthetics, which does not seem reason enough for including annoying running-towards-the-camera gameplay.

Aesthetics, in general, is a strong point for Shattered: Tale of the Forgotten King, with interesting character design and a muted colour palette. The enemies have a cool ghostly appearance, all transparent with hard planes. The blockiness of the world has an appealing look but sometimes presents gameplay issues, with a lack of clarity on which blocks can be stood upon and which cannot. Music is a highlight throughout the experience, soft and atmospheric throughout the levels but clashing into something harsh and unfamiliar for the boss fights.

As an Early Access title, bugs are to be expected at this stage of development, and Shattered: Tale of the Forgotten King has plenty to offer. Despite being set to English, Yaak would occasionally slip into French, along with tooltips and the occasional item description. The English translation in general needs some more work, with quite a few typos and some weird wording, like ‘Strenght’ in the character status screen and ‘Slained’ when defeating the boss Hob. Enemies have buggy AI, sometimes freezing in place if the player wanders slightly too far away. Some instant death obstacles seem misplaced, with death spikes jutting out of a random wall. Most devastating was the game failing to acknowledge that the boss was defeated, with the gate he was guarding refusing to open. Perhaps defeating him again would make the gate work, but few players would be inclined to do so after a tough battle. 

Shattered: Tale of the Forgotten King has the potential to become an interesting game but is simply not fun to play in its current state. The incompatibility of Journey and Dark Souls is the core of the game’s problem: it needs to lean more heavily on one concept or the other—make the levels more peaceful playgrounds for exploration, or tighten up the combat experience to reach that satisfying balance of hard but fair. Trying to have both leaves the game in this strange middle ground where no one is satisfied.

For more on the best previews, reviews, and news from the world of single-player gaming, be sure to follow OnlySP on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube. Also, be sure to join the discussion in the community Discord server.

Continue Reading