Monday, 4 October 2010

Eurogamer Expo 2010 in London Thoughts

First off this post will be long as I plan to write as much detail about my day as possible. Last time I went to an Expo I managed to blab about a lot, I'm sure I'll be able to do the same today. I'm going to lay the post out the same way I did for the Gadget Show back in April as that worked quite well. Here we go!

Sunday 3rd October 2010 - Eurogamer Expo at Earl's Court in London

The Journey There

Waking up at 8:30am when you've been getting used to waking up at midday (Halo Reach IS the reason to blame for this) is a bit of a shock to the system but when you're excited for the day ahead you're able to get out of bed with a spring in your step! My dad drove me him and my brother to London in a little under an hour and a half I think which was good timing. Upon arrival the queue seemed to be really long but after waiting 15 minutes it was 11am and the gates opened. Thankfully the gates moved quick as we was in.

PS3 Move

Don't Know Game Name (I tried researching!)

At the entrance is where the Playstation 3's Move technology is located, therefore making it our first stop. We stumbled accross one of the most bizarre games of our current generation. I remember watching developer videos of it at e3 and thinking how it will be fun to play despite the strangeness of it. I'm not quite sure of the purpose to the game but basically you have to try get to the bottom of a hill as fast as possible whilst collecting coins. That doesn't sound too bad however then I tell you that your character is riding a shopping trolley that can spin attack people and allow you to duck under objects.

Unfortunately me, my dad and my brother were unable to get to grips with the game in the few minutes we all spent with it. I am happy to report that the controls do work and the game responded with everything I did well. I crashed a lot and did kind of crappy but I can say this is due to lack of practise and not doing the tutorials (which my dad did). I was quite impressed with the amount of different types of ways you could interact with the character, especially how to jump. To do that you have to point the wand upwards and then raise your arm quickly. Failure to point the wand before hand means there will be no jump and instead you will power up your guy for a speed attack. The only disappointment I discovered with the Sony Move was that if you twist the remote it there's no way the Eyetoy can pick up on the movement. I always thought it was call that the Wiimotes on the Wii could.

The Shoot

The Shoot is a Time Crysis type of game but with robots, not humans. I had a quick go and found that although the controller was responsive and I was able to aim at enemies I ended up just pointing anywhere and shooting without tactically thinking about it. Everynow and then a rocket would come at us and we needed to try and dodge them by moving to the side. Everytime I tried and everytime I failed. I asked a rep to explain to me and he didn't seem to know how either which kind of bummed me out so I left.

Heroes on the Move

Didn't get any pictures of this (maybe some videos but will look later) but from what I saw the game appeared to be quite amusing. My brother had to throw a razorblade as a frisbe with Daxter (from the Jak & Daxter series) and then aim where the frisbe was going with the Move controller. Simple concept but it seemed to be effective. The enriovnment had lots of objects to interact with meaning getting high scores on the game could become quite a fun challenge. Afterwards I saw my Dad play as Clank (from the Ratchet and Clank series) shooting at lots of enemies. I wish I got to see a bit more of the game and took some photos as it seemed rather decent. I do wonder sometimes why games can't be released sooner, it has a date of Spring 2011 but it seems complete already.

Other Mentions & Move Round Up

There were a few more games on show which made use of the Move controller but I never had a chance on them. I watched people play The Fight: Lights Out a few times and it seemed to always get a good reception and a crowd wanting to play. I noticed a trend though which happens in all fighting type games, people start swinging like crazy and forgetting to block. It leaves me wondering whether they enjoyed swinging there arms like a maniac to look good even though in reality they probably did pretty badly. I walked past Socom a few times I think but I kept forgetting to go and properly check it out, bummer.

Overall I think the Move is a good product which is worth a buy. It's not groundbreakingly amazing since the Wii has been there and done that really however it's nice to know that in the future there will be core games made that make use of this technology. Since it's around the £50 price mark I reckon my dad will end up buying it soon. I look forward to this as I reckon I would quite enjoy it.

PS3 Games

Motorstorm Apocalypse 3D

There's a few franchises I wish were on the Xbox 360, Motorstorm is definitely one of them. We have the original in my household however a lack of achievements stopped me from proper playing it (although I really did enjoy the few hours I spent on it). I was curious to see how a racing game could handle 3D so we got hold of a console as soon as possible to give it a go (which was a good thing as I never managed to give it another go later on).

3D is an aquired taste with most people being negative at first but then enjoying it once they're truely experienced it. There will always be a few naysayers though and when it comes to video games I can see why. I put the glasses on and it just felt so weird. I had a dab at 3D gaming with Avatar back in April but things are hectic in Motorstorm and I had rubbish and rubble flying around everywhere. It's a lot to take in at first and I found it slightly infuriating. I've got to say that they've done the 3D well for the game but I have to question whether it really needs 3D. It's cool and all but I think I'd just rather see sexy high definition graphics.

But the gameplay was fantastic as I expected and I loved the level design for the track I was on. It's a bit like Split Second where the environment crumbles around you. I was hinted to press the square button and as I did it zoomed in on some skyscrapers about to collapse so I had to use my boost to get past them before I was squashed. I didn't notice too much as unfortunately I decided to get off really quickly. Good stuff.

Other PS3 Games

I didn't actually play any of the other Playstation 3 exclusive games that were on show. I did watch people play most of them though so I'll quickly say my two cents

Gran Turismo 5: - I kid you not when I say I thought I was looking at Forza Motorsport for a bit. Both have ace graphics with the same cars and tracks, do you blame me? They had an area set up so you could play this in a dome shaped seat thing and a steering wheel. It looked pretty sweet and I can't believe we didn't take a photo. It was also in 3D at booths.

inFAMOUS 2: - I havn't played the original but have been interested in it. I watched the sequel today for a minute (only 2 consoles set up and they were hidden kind of) and what I saw looked really good. We were in a chase and needed to catch up to the limo so with our powers we were able to slide accross a telephone wire and then jump off in to a glide. We saw the limo down below and landed on it for a cutscene. Some unique type of gameplay there if I do say so myself.

LittleBigPlanet 2: - What I saw was the same brilliant formulae and therefore I didn't feel the need to play. I was hoping to see some mini games (new to the sequel I believe) but everytime I looked people were just creating their own levels or completing pre-existing ones.

Xbox 360 - Kinect

The most anticipated thing about this event for me was Kinect, whether or not the technology really works to make it a success. I loved the concept of it at e3 2009 when it was announced however since then my views have differed due to it's negative response by consumers and it's high price point. None of that would matter though if I liked it, I left the show feeling slightly bitter...

Dance Central

It's the big Kinect game for launch as it aims to get the whole family off the couch and learning some dance moves to popular dancey songs. It was the first time I saw Kinect and I felt my stomach doing backflips due to excitement haha. Throughout the day two woman were demoing it and at the end of every song they tried to rally people together to take over so they could get a breather. Eventually I decided to give the game a go with my dad to see what it was like. I was surprised that it's not as hard as it looks to copy the moves shown on the screen. I mean yes I made sure we were on Easy difficulty so the moves probably changed at a slower pace but to me that was still a good adequate difficulty to be on. On the right side of the screen there is a silouhette of your body which shows you how you look. There's also the characters dancing on screen as well as images coming up showing the move which is coming next as well as the scoring system, I didn't know where to look! I was able to see that Kinect picked up my body extremely well, if I move my knee up in the air in a certain way then I'm mirrored just like that.

Unfortunately I was unable to see any of the other modes that the game had as they only wanted to show off the mode I was on. I have heard there is a jam mode which could be very interesting. What I played the characters on screen perform perfectly no matter what I want to do, I'm hoping the jam move will let your avatar move exactly like you do so you can really see how you look (instead of looking at a small silhouette). There's most definitely going to be a training mode to help you learn each move too (and there's going to be a lot of them). It's being developed by Harmonix who I have a lot of faith in thanks to the excellent Rock Band franchise they have created (more on that later). Therefore there is no cheating in this game like you can do in games such as Just Dance on the Wii, oh no. As I watched other people play I noticed how they were able to get yellow or green ratings on easier simple moves which repeat for a few seconds however on quick complex moves lots of red was coming up (which I presume means no points). I LOVE this as it proves that Kinect technology can really tell if you're doing the dance move correctly or not, something I was worried about.

What is key to note about Dance Central is that you can take away the scoring system and even Kinect and people will still love it. There's a reason why Just Dance has sold so well on the Wii despite it being terrible and it's because people just love an excuse to sing and dance. I saw plenty of people having fun on the stage (including woman) and I'm sure plenty of them didn't care for the score or how good they looked, just laughing at the pictures that are taken in the freestyle section is funny enough for them. Problem is it's not going to be cheap and I can't see people forking out the money for it despite it being an excellent product. We shall see.

Joy Ride

This game angered many of gamers such as myself when Microsoft announced it would no longer be a free aracade game, instead it had become a full retail title for Kinect. I had one quick race on Joy Ride against my brother and I was very disappointed with what I saw. Firstly there is no way of accelerating or braking, that's pretty stupid in my eyes but I can forgive it (to make it easier for non gamers). All you really need to know is if you move your hands like a steering wheel you move left and right, at least you're supposed to. I had a horrible time trying to move as I went left to right to left to right repeatedly and as a result crashed plenty.

Throughout the couple of minutes the race took I tried all I could think of to steer better by moving my hands quick to slow or stiff or relaxed, nothing helped me. I came in 8th place (which was last) and felt pretty damn disappointed with what I had just experienced. My brother seemed to do okay on it as did other people I watched play so maybe I just didn't quite get it or got unlucky. I'm hoping it's the latter as I was watching people have fun with the game and I was jealous. I managed to make the boosting work quite well (pull to body then push out quick) and I did a drift once (by leaning my body to the side) so I can say that Kinect did work in that respect however it's useless if the steering fails like it did for me.

Kinect Sports

Probably the worst game of the show this was, it's just Wii Sports but probably worse. There were 4 games to choose from which was volleyball, 100m sprint, table tennis and bowling. I watched all of them in action (volleyball and table tennis were popular due to 2 players) and they all seemed to make little use of Kinect. I saw two kids infront of me in the queue do the race together and the on screen avatar did not mirror how the kids looked whatsoever. It left me wondering how the technology was being used as I was expecting to see a representation of how you sprint show on the game. Instead what I presume happens if Kinect looks at how fast your less are moving and adjusts the speed as a result. I'd need more time to confirm that it's rubbish but it more than likely is.

Next one to discuss is table tennis, the fan favourite (it always seemed to be on everytime I walked past). There's only one compliment I can give to this and that's that Kinect is able to recognise whether you hit the ball with the palm of your hand or the back. The avatars were able to mirror your body movement pretty well like that however the ping pong ball could not react with how you swung your arm very well. I saw this one guy keep trying to aim to the left and everytime the ball just went in a straight line, not diagonal like his arm was clearly doing. Maybe he was doing it wrong but if he was then I have to question the whole mentallity of Kinect, I thought it was meant to be easy for the whole family to play, controller free and all. I've played table tennis on Wii Resort and I have to say I think it's much better.

Volleyball suffered from the same problem the table tennis did in that the game doesn't react to how you hit the ball, instead it justs acknowledges you made contact with the ball and hits it back to the same position over the net everytime. Now I didn't play it and only saw one game between too guys but I got the sense that they were just jumping and frailing their arms, not tactically trying to place the ball. As I just said I believe this is because the game wont change the path of the ball even if you hit it to the left or the right but maybe the guys I were watching were simply doing a bad job. The frustrating thing about this game though is that people will still have fun with it, despite it being pretty bad just like Just Dance is on the Wii.

So when I got my chance to play I picked the other game I hadn't seen in action yet, that was bowling. It was time to see whether or not Kinect would change the path the ball took depending on where I aimed. I wasn't too hopeful it would due to what I saw in the previous games but I remained optimistic. I grab the ball by either moving my left or right hand to the lane I want to pick a ball up from, that worked well everytime but nothing too impressive there. There's about 6 to 8 arrows on the lane with one being selected at a time, this selected arrow shows what position you are bowling from. If I took a step left or right the game would recognise this and change the selected arrow, I found that quite impressive however it didn't always seem to work and I had problems doing it at times which was a big shame. When it came to the bowling it was shambles. I've done bowling in real life and I'm half decent plus I'm pretty good on the Wii so I know how my arm needs to behave in order to direct the ball to where I want it to go. More often than not the ball did not go where I asked it to which was very dissatisfying.

In conclusion I have to say to everyone avoid this Kinect game! It's a clone of Wii Sports and not a very good one. There's no point buying this for a few awes at one Kinect does when the Wii already made a fairly decent attempt to recreate the sports for the living room. If Kinect Sports had innovated and allowed gamers to use real skill then I would be sitting here telling you it's a pretty decent title, but it's not. The least they could have done is added in different modes or challenges but I don't think they have. This may be a bit of fun for the kids and elders but please, stay away.

Kinect Adventures

I can safely say that Kinect Adventures is not a big disappointment like Kinect Sports was, instead Kinect Adventures does what Kinect Sports fails to do, actually let skill determine the gameplay. The demo that was being played was of a career type mode I believe which kept repeating which meant that we were unable to pick the type of event we wanted to do.

I had my eye set on one where you are in a cart on a track and you need to move around and duck to avoid obstacles and collect coins. I was very impressed when I saw a video for this at e3 this year and yet again I was impressed when I witnessed it being played live. People seemed to have great fun making their body in to Y shapes and spreading their arms diagonal to collect coins whilst preparing to move left or right to avoid hitting blocks coming your way. I do wonder though if there's any way of ranking the difficulty up on it though as otherwise after playing it 5 times you're going to remember the course well and probably get a perfect score. Nevertheless I am sure anybody who plays that will get a good sense of satisfaction from the game as Kinect really is able to mirror your movements on to the avatar brilliantly.

An effective but potentially boring game on show was one where you are in the sea and your tank gets hit by fish, causing leaks. Your job is to rub your hand on all the holes to heal them. I think kids are going to like it but one go will be enough for us adults unless there's a way to change the difficulty. The 2 people I saw on it weren't having to move much however if there starts to become lots of leaks really quickly then it could become a knackering game to play.

Problem with this one is that I've seen it all before years ago with the Eyetoy. Hopefully you can use other parts of your body such as your feet to do the job too, if so it could be pretty funny.

I got to play on the game where you and a friend are in a raft and you need to collect coins as you head down river. Unfortunately for my dad I wasn't too interested in actually trying to play the game properly as I had seen before me fail. As you are now working co-operatively together it's important that both people move the same way at the same time and jump in unison. I did this briefly with my dad and it seemed to work quite well despite us not doing too good. Before long though I was just dancing around checking to see whether Kinect's 1 to 1 ratio is plausible, and it is. I was able to get in to a crouching position on the floor and my avatar mimicked it plus I was doing karate kicks and Kinect recognised it and displayed on screen accordingly. It's not perfect though as it's unable the movement in your fingers which is a shame plus I was unable to get my hand on my avatars head despite a few tries. I'll try upload a video of me and my dad playing it sometime, it's quite amusing.

My Thoughts on Kinect

I am left slightly bemused with the game selection choice for Kinect that was shown at the show. The technology does work (although it's not perfect) yet game developers don't seem to be making most of the potential, instead opting to bring out generic games which we've already seen on the Wii. Dance Central is probably going to be a brilliant game yet wont reach sales it deserves because people don't need to spend £125 on a camera when they already have a Wii which works perfectly fine. I can imagine the average mum leaving the game show yesterday thinking Kinect was good fun but not much better than the Wii. The reality is that it's got a lot better technology, it's just not being used quite right yet.

As for me I shall keep my fingers crossed that my dad goes and buys it as I'm not prepared to fork out the money because I don't believe it's worth it yet. With Sony Move being really good though I can imagine him opting for that as a purchase instead and to be honest I can't blame him.

Xbox 360 Games

To be honest there wasn't really many games that I played properly, most of them I had a minute or 2 on near the end when the queues died down. I didn't really feel the need to play most of them as I know what to expect. Sure there's new features in Fable but it's nothing I've never seen before. I spent the majority of my time on Rock Band 3 (I shall discuss that at the end of this blog though) as that has new peripherals to try out. Nevertheless I'll give my thoughts on what I saw as I watched others playing.

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood

Two people I know online both played this a lot they've told me and I can see why, the new multiplayer is a good bit of innovation for the franchise. Now I havn't played much of Assassin's Creed 1 as I borrowed it from a friend however I played enough to understand the concept of the game. Online is the same in the sense that you need to hund a target and assassinate them however it's made different as you need to watch your own back to (as you're also a target).

I was in an 8 player game and excited to see how this was going to work. You get to choose a character to be with all of them having strengths and weaknesses plus a selection of different weapons could be picked. There's a arrow that works like a compass which allows you to know where your target is so I tended to walk slowly in the crowds with all the other civilians, trying to blend in so I'm not seen. What tended to happen is I could tell that there's a human player around as they are sprinting which makes them obvious. I was able to get my target a few times and had a great sense of accomplishment everytime I did. I'm not sure but I think I'm the target of the target I'm trying to get, meaning we're both on to eachother. However there are 6 other people in the game and anyone of them can be assassinated by me and I will get points from them as a result of it, just not much plus there's no arrow pointing to their direction (making them harder to spot). When you or your target dies you both get given a new target, and you continue from there.

I only got to play one 5 minute round which was not very much time so I was unable to really get to see what the online offers. There's ways to set up traps and fool your targets by numerous different ways so I'm quite excited to play the game now when it comes out in November. It's very fresh and I think will become a big hit.


Had the longest queue of the event Brink did despite having 20 consoles set up for it. I never had a go on it (although I would have done if I had friends with me) but I did spent a few minutes watching somebody have a go on it. Seemed like a decent online shooter. I know there's lots of unique features for the game but I wasn't able to notice any from just watching, I'll need to look in to it more sometime.

Fable 3

As this was one of the games I knew my brother was most looking forward to playing on we went and queued for what felt like forever for him to be able to get a go on the game. I wasn't interested because I didn't want to spoil any of the story or check out any new features as I am happy to wait to play the full product. Lionhead definitely made the best demo out of all the games on show as they had picked around 8 different demos and put them in to one, giving you the choice to choose what part of the game you wish to play.

I watched people play through a few of the modes and as I expected it just Fable 2 with a new storyline. Sure there's going to be small little improvements but there's nothing that I felt the need to go and check out there and then. Not too sure what else to say on this really so I'll just post some pictures up.

Def Jam Rapstar: - Really enjoyed watching the guys on stage perform on this game. They probably rap in real life so they got quite enthusiastic and got the crowd going. I didn't bother having a go because I can't rap but I quite enjoyed hearing So Solid Crew - 21 Seconds being played throughout the day. Classic!

Just Dance 2 (on Wii): - Looked like the same crap the original had so I didn't want to play. I was hoping to talk to a representative so I could question them on the scoring system but nobody was around.

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit: - I did want to play this but I whenever I went past it always had one of the longest queues going. I ended up forgetting about it though and left sad that I didn't get a chance to play. I think what was playable was a hot pursuit in a LAN game with half people as cops and other half as robbers. That would have been fun to try, hopefully it will be released as a demo on the marketplace in the coming weeks.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2011: - It's out soon so I didn't feel the need to play it plus there's already a demo on the marketplace. I prefer FIFA anyway so I don't care too much for the PES franchise. The last one I played was 2008 though and I not played much of that. Thing is I reckon I could play the new one and it'll still feel similar, sports games don't seem to change much each year.

Vanquish: - Didn't play it but from what I saw there was a LOT of fighting and shooting. It seems like it's going to be a game where you have the trigger held down for shooting non stop.

18+ Section

Proof of identification was needed to get entrance to this area which was closed off by curtains stopping any underagers seeing what was going on. This sucked as it meant by brother couldn't come in and play with me so I only popped in to here 3 times. The final time I went in most of the games didn't have a queue so I had a quick blast on the majority of the games.

Bulletstorm: - Only 4 consoles were set up for this and it wasn't easy to find which is disappointing as I have big expectations for this game. I was unable to play it was always crowded so I didn't even watch for very long. Therefore I can't give any opinions on it.

Crysis 2: - I have been anticipating this game so when I saw a console free I walked there swiftly to nab the spot before anybody else took it. I got thrown in to a 12 person LAN game on a level which seemed like a crumbling hotel. I thought the environment on the game was amazing, I've never played a level in multiplayer that had so much going on in the scenery. Rooms has collapsed to floors below and there were flames from explosions going on. I managed to get 12 kills compared to 10 deaths which I was happy with (however would have been better if I didn't start sucking at the end). I had a problem with aiming as my accuracy seemed to be terrible although I wont fault the game for that, maybe I'm just too use to Halo Reach at the moment. I didn't bother experimenting with the guns or classes, instead I just stayed assault the whole time and got my kills that way. I did press the LB button a few times though which I believe made me invisible (which also means that must have been my type of special power I had selected or something). I wasn't able to use it for any benefit though which was a shame but it was only a 10 minute game which I spent most of the time just running around admiring the level. I did notice that all of us looked exactly the same, hopefully there will be some customization in the final version of the game. In conclusion I can state that I'm sure the game will have decent online that I may get sucked in to. We shall see.

Dead Space 2: - I wanted to check this out as I havn't played the original and have always heard good things about it. There always seemed to be somebody at a console though so I never got my hands on it. I watched for a minute though and thought it would be a creepy game to play in the dark. Some of the monsters you have to fight on that game are so deformed, the art team deserve credit for their inspirational creatures.

Dragon Age II: - Not played the original and have never really wanted to, I can love RPG's but I can tell Dragon Age is not one that I would. The combat on it seems terrible, I found it really slow paced and boring. I would go up to an enemy and press A and they will get sliced up but there didn't seem to be any types of combos that can be used so I would then turn around and press A on the next enemey. Everynow and then my powers recharged and I hit X or B to do a special power. Still, it was repetitive.... Maybe RPG games are meant to be like that, I just havn't played one properly in ages. Dragon Age looks like the type of game where I could go crazy and hack n slash. The cutscenes looked really lame and cheesy plus I thought there was way too much blood, not appealing if you ask me.

Fallout New Vegas: - After just a minute of running around a wasteland I was bored wondering what to do. I did manage to find an enemy and got prompted to go in to the menu which lets me choose which part of an enemy I would like to aim at. I decided to hit his arm which was a great success as it meant the dynamite he had in his hand blew up and killed him. I then proceeded to more wandering around until I got bored again (in about 20 seconds). I didn't like Oblivion either, I guess I just don't like Bethesda's style.

Gears of War 3: - Everytime I looked at a TV which had Gears of War 3 on I always was impressed by the graphics. I don't think they're anything special, they were just unusually bright and I quite liked it. There was only one game mode on offer and it was one of the new ones I think. You get to spawn as a locust and have to kill the COG. I think it's the reverse of Horde mode and it seems to be a good idea. For a split second I got excited that I may see some achievements for the game as I hit the guide button and realised I was signed in to a profile (all the other games I had been on were not, I always checked :P). I looked at game history and unfortunately no Gears of War 3 achievements were to be found, instead somebody had been playing the new Spiderman Dimensions and had unlocked a few achievements.

Killzone 3: - Another really crowded area which meant I didn't get a chance to play. I really wanted too as well so I could check out the 3D in it. I've never played Killzone too so it would have been nice to get a taster of the franchise but I'm not too fussed, I'm sure it's just a tranditional shooter type game.

Mafia II: - As the game has now been out for a month or so I was shocked to see they had as many consoles set up for it as they did. There was probably 16 set up in total and towards the end of the day over half of them were free to play. I bounced on one and killed a few policeman who got out of their car with my shotgun. I proceeded by getting in the car and crashing really quickly. That was the end of my playtime as I decided to move on after just 30 seconds lol.

Medal of Honor: - One of the most queued for games second to only Brink. The whole back wall was filled of Medal of Honor but I didn't get a chance to play it. I'm sure it'll be good though and I shall hopefully find out in a couple of weeks time.

Saw II: - Didn't feel the need to play as I'm sure it will be the same as the original with a few new puzzle additions. I didn't want to spoil anything either as I know I'll eventually play the game as I really enjoyed the original.

Rock Band 3

The best part of the whole day for me was experiencing the new pro mode on Rock Band 3 which has a bunch of new peripherals that come alongside of it. I have decided to give Rock Band 3 a lot of attention as there is a lot I have to say on the game. I've saved the best until last.

Pro Guitar

Critics I have since Guitar Hero came out years ago that the plastic guitar doen't replicate playing an actual guitar whatsoever. The guys at Harmonix have now gone one step further and have created gameplay which can cope with a total of 102 different button presses for every note a real guitar can play. There are a total of 6 strings and 17 different frets (I think that's the word) that go down the neck of the guitar so multiply them together and you have your total amount of buttons.

I've played a little bit of guitar before and my friend was able to teach me some simple songs such as Seven Nations Army by White Stripes therefore I know how it feels to hold down a string in different places. I believe this peripheral replicates that same feeling brilliantly, I can't tell the difference between holding the button down and an actual string. Where you strum though with your other hand the peripheral actually does have strings there instead of buttons, this only heightens the authenticity of the product even more.

But how does it all work? Well you still have the same runway with colour rectangles (as we've become accustomed to from previous Rock Band games) but there's now a 6th purple lane for the 6th string. The notes come down from the top of the screen still but there's now a number on the rectangle, this number represents how far down the neck you have to go to find the fret. I was playing on Easy so I didn't see any numbers above 10 however if you do rank up the difficulty I'm sure you'll be needing to hit 14 to 17 where the frets get so tiny it seems to me impossible to find/judge without looking. So when you see the number you need to find the fret on the neck, once that's done you'll need to work out which of the 6 buttons on that fret you need to hold down. That is done by looking at the colour of the rectangle and the position it is in. For example if it was a blue rectangle it will be the 4th button I'll need to have held down.

As I was playing on Easy difficulty I was only really dealing with the first 7 frets on the neck and the first string (red on runway). It's strange that it's red as I'm used to green being there, they seemed to have changed it around for some reason. I did at times have to hit the second string and that proved to be pretty damn difficult. I was getting used to going from 3 to 6 to 3 to 7 to 4 (for example) on the frets pretty well and I was happy with that however tell me to then start pushing down the 2nd wire instead and we have difficulties for a newcomer to guitar such as myself. You also need to ensure you strum the 2nd string if a green has come up, that then equates to me having to work out placement for 3 separate things all in a second or so it gives me before the note needs to be strummed. I believe that with time and practise I shall be able to play Easy mode without much problems but that's only because you're given ample time to prepare for the next note. The speed Expert goes would make me go crazy.

I didn't even bother attempting any other harder difficulty as the 3 goes I managed to get on the guitar I spent doing the easiest songs on Easy. I did try Beast and the Harlot by Avenged Sevenfold at one point but quickly came to regret it and change song as it was too hard. It's strange knowing a song I can 4 star on usual Guitar on Expert can be put to Pro Guitar on Easy and become a nightmare for me. As the difficulty ranks up chords will start to come in to play, that's just far beyond the capabilities of my brain right now so I wont even consider trying until I have the basics done well.

At the price of £120+ this new guitar is not cheap and may scare you off wanting to get it. But I can ensure you that this is the future of the music rhythem genre if you have gotten bored of the same generic easy songs that come out on normal guitar. Now I've seen pro mode there's no going back for me, I want that guitar so bad. I know it will offer me hundreds of hours of gameplay and by the end of it I will be an established guitarist. I may decide to wait a while for the price to drop but I know for sure I will eventually get that guitar. Harmonix have stated that in 2011 they're going to make it possible for you to play the game with your own real guitar, that may be something you want to look in to if you already own a guitar.


Sure so I was already buzzing with excitement from the new guitar however that didn't mean I had forgotten about the other new peripheral for this years iteration of the franchise. The keyboard is a brand new feature that hasn't been seen before in the music rhythem genre and it is a pleasant entry I must say. I started off on standard mode and was able to do it practically straight away. There's 5 keys in a row which are colour coded the standed colours from green to orange, all you need to do is tap them down at the right time. As I am an Expert player on most instruments I wasn't afraid to try Keyboard on Expert straight away and I was right to think I could do it, as it's not that hard. I did the Beautiful People by Marilyn Manson and after a minute in to the song I had figured out where I wanted my fingers positioned and could probably FC the song if I had another try. I played Du Hast by Rammstein as a band with some strangers though and that was a bit more trickier as it was a higher rated song on difficulty. I've got a video of me doing it which I plan to upload at some point.

But you don't want to buy the Keyboard so you can play it on standard mode. Sure it is fun but you're only hitting 5 keys when there's a total of 25 on the Keyboard. I started off Pro Keyboard on Easy mode as I had just realised how bad I was on Pro Guitar and was expecting the same treatment from the Keyboard. This wasn't the case however as after 30 seconds I realised it was relatively easy so I restarted and put it on Medium. I knew that Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen was going to be a challenging song but with No Fail mode on I was quite happy to give it a go. Me or my brother unfortunately didn't take any pictures of the gameplay for the keyboard so I have just searched googles images to find the image below. I believe they are playing on Easy mode as I can't remember if there was red available to me but there was definitely one orange note at the end that I had to hit a few times.

I presume that each time you knock it up a difficulty more keys become available to you as there was at least 6 keys on the left of the Keyboard which did nothing when I pressed them down. Anyway I managed to get 3 stars on the song and I was pretty damn chuffed with myself. Without looking I was able to magically find the right key at times (although there was a lot of mistakes) and with training I expect I will be able to know where my fingers are positioned without looking (slightly similar to having my hand down a slot on guitar).

I was told that the Keyboard would be bundled with the Rock Band 3 software for £70, if that's the case then where can I pre-order. However when I checked Amazon they had it listed at £110, meaning they are charging £70 alone for the Keyboard! Sure it's cheaper than their new realistic guitar peripheral but it's still rather expensive. I'm not made of money, I can't see why they can't bundle it at £70 like Activision always do with a guitar on the Guitar Hero games.

Other Bits

The guys that were working there as representatives on hand to help people out were such friendly people, I really did enjoy speaking to them throughout the day and asking lots of questions. One key question I wanted to know about though they were unable to help on, and that was questioning them on how gamer profiles will be tied to each console. On Rock Band 3 it is possible to have 2 people on Vocals, 1 on Guitar, 1 on Bass, 1 on Drums and 1 on Keyboard which makes a combined total of 6 people all playing at once. The guys were able to confirm this works but then when I started asking them how everybody will be signed in to their gamer profiles they started getting confused and unable to answer me. We all know that the Xbox 360 only allows 4 people to be signed in on a console, so how is everybody going to be signed in? It sucks that I didn't find out but I'll experiment myself when I end up getting the game eventually.

I wanted to have a go at the Pro Drums but there wasn't a console set up entirely for it, instead the only way to have a go was to play as a band which had a large queue the whole time. I did see it get shredded by some very good players quite a few times throughout the day though and really it's just a slight advancement of what was already a realistic experience. Guitar and Keyboard have big changes in Pro mode but Drums does not, the inclusion of 3 cymbols only changes the gameplay slightly. If you don't see a rectangle and instead see a circle then you need to make sure you hit the cymbol up high. I didn't see anybody having any problems with it but nevertheless it is a welcomed addition to the franchise. I hope I can buy the extra pads for £10-£20, if so I will be interested.

Final Words

I had a great time at Earl's Court and I'm super glad I went. It was fantastic getting to experience new games before they have been released and I look forward to going again next year with hopefully some friends to keep me company. I may update this in the coming days to add in bits I have forgotten plus I could always mention a few more games which I've left out due to being exhuasted from all the other pieces I've been writing. It's taken me a good 5 hours to write all this so I appreciate anybody who has bothered to read it all. I wont be in a rush to write another blog entry anytime soon! I leave you with a funny picture my brother took of my dad at lunch.

If you have any questions or queries about games which I didn't cover then let me know and I'll make adjustments. For now I'm out!

1 comment:

  1. Good write up and a really good read. Had to read it in a few different installments cause it was that long but really enjoyed it. :)