We love going to as many of the Game Conferences as we can, looking to find the latest and greatest in gaming. Melbourne was again the location of Australia's equivalent of E3, the eGamesExpo.
Welcome to eGamesExpo 2009
The rain had starting coming down…not heavy but just enough to annoy the growing crowd waiting outside. The doors opened and the call came out for the media to enter. Sorry guys, you’ll have to wait a bit longer while I get out of the drizzle and into the gamers paradise. After the initial welcome, we were free to walk the floors of the historical Royal Exhibition Building. The previous Expos had been held in the newer Melbourne Exhibition Centre which was more of a giant warehouse. I’m not sure why they moved it. Maybe it was to avoid the confusion with Sexpo that had been in the same building albeit in different rooms – I can see it now…40 year old gamers walking into the building only to be confronted with scantily clad women and thinking it was part of the Cosplay display.
But I digress. The Royal Exhibition Building is a marvelous old landmark which has been around since 1879. It was funny to see the latest in gaming machines and software being displayed in this grand old structure. But here I was, ready to be marveled with the latest and greatest gaming had to offer.
Pedal to the metal – Namco Bandai Games
Near the entry was the first exhibit, that of Namco Bandai Games. On display was a replica Formula One race car. And you guessed it, they were displaying their latest F1 racing game F1 2009 on the Wii. The game comes combined with a special steering wheel control. The control certainly takes some getting used to, but feels more natural than the standard X360 or PS3 controller. In fact, many people move their controllers the way they want to steer, so I guess that’s why it feels normal. The audio (whilst difficult to really hear clearly with all the noise in the building) sounded authentic, whilst the visuals were fine for a Wii game. They definitely didn’t compare with the Forza Motorsport III on X360, but you wouldn’t expect them too. And so, after giving the Albert Park track (Melbourne’s F1 street track) a couple of turns, I headed off for some more racing action at the Microsoft X360 exhibit.
More racing with Xbox
The Microsoft exhibit was quite interesting. They had a semi-trailer decked out with the newly released X360 version of Forza Motorsport III playing on screens on the outside of the trailer. Three large TVs were displayed on each side of the vehicle. One side was used as practice for the game, whilst one side was being used to score gamers as they played the game. The gamer with the fastest lap time would win a copy of the game. Unfortunately for me, I should have spent more time on the practice side. The game looks great though. There are plenty of tracks and cars to choose from and as mentioned above, the visuals are superb. The backgrounds are aesthetically pleasing and this was my excuse for doing badly. I was probably taking more notice of what was around me than concentrating on the road. That was also my reason for testing the damage physics system, which works like a treat. Hitting the tyre barriers can certainly do some damage to the car – which looks good, but shouldn’t happen if you can keep the car on the road.
The sequel - Ubisoft
After finally damaging the car beyond repair, I thought it best to end my session there and headed over to the Ubisoft exhibit. Theirs was probably the major display of the entire expo. My main focus was initially on Assassin’s Creed II. Although the setting is different, the game has a familiar feel to it. The controls seem smoother than the original and the visuals seem to have been given a minor upgrade. From what we got to see, the story looks fantastic and will certainly draw gamers into the game.