On Friday the 14th of November, I had the opportunity to attend the eGames Expo - Australia's premiere Video Game exhibition hosted annually in Melbourne. The 2008 iteration is undoubtedly the best so far, and whilst there is much that can be improved upon (I'll talk about this a little later), it was a very successful show.
First, the good stuff. The highlight of the show was undoubtedly the unveiling of Capcom's much anticipated Resident Evil 5, over at the Sony booth. The game is graphically amazing, far superior to the screenshots and videos I have seen so far, and plays just as good, taking on board the best of its predecessor. What's more, it was great to see it looking so slick running on Sony's hardware, considering its dual format release.
Speaking of which, Sony Computer Entertainment had a massive presence, with a large main area, which hosted both PSP and PS3 demo units. Highlights of the PS3 booths were the unreleased Rag Doll Kung-Fu, and the afore-mentioned Resident Evil 5. Newly released titles MotorStorm 2 and Fallout 3 were also on show. Just around the corner from that were two large Gran Turismo racing rigs (pictured below) and a SingStar booth for those willing to share their...talents for the day. Towards the back of the room was an incredibly popular booth - LittleBigPlanet - which featured a massive globe encouraging attendees to place stickers onto. Over a few occasions through the day, classes were held to give attendees a basic overview of the 'play, create, share'.
Continuing to throw support for PSP, Sony also demoed the new release Lego Batman, and the unreleased Loco Roco 2 and Resistance: Retribution, the former being so early in development it was running off tethered dev kits, but looked nice in its current state and played slightly better than I imagined with the lack of dual joystick configuration.
Microsoft's booth was significantly less expansive, with much less hullabaloo and a whole lot less glamour. Around 15 more comfortable demo spaces were set up with the majority playing GRID, a game from mid this year. However, at another space was a Gears of War 2 shipping container, housing around 8 units, LAN'd together.
Nintendo had a rather nice space right at the front of the room which basically forced attendees to either walk into, or walk around. The white surroundings were blinding, but somewhat comforting at the same time. Taking centre stage was Animal Crossing: Let's go to the City, which is strikingly similar to both the GameCube and DS iterations, but a format that's probably not appropriate to change. Disaster proved itself to be aptly named, playing and looking as such. The opening of the convention featured a few attendees 'playing' Wii Music, which did little to enhance the reputation of one of the worst first party games to be released for some time.
EA Games were on hand with both the unreleased Need for Speed: Undercover, and the freshly released Mirrors Edge (a damn fine game I might add). A small area, shrouded behind black plastic sheets (which I wasn't even sure I was allowed to enter) hid the unreleased Left 4 Dead in PC form, which looked and played extremely well, no surprise coming from the fine folks at Valve. To the right of the main stage was the massive FIFA arena, hosting a small soccer ground which held competitions, and masses of PlayStation units with the 2009 version of the game. Truly one of the highlights of the whole expo, and one that did a lot to appeal to its base, evident from the masses which continued to flock to it.
Atari had a small presence with one demo unit demonstrating Tomb Raider: Underworld, yet surprisingly the maligned big budget title Alone in the Dark, with one more chance for success on Sony's console, was nowhere to be seen.
My biggest complaint with the eGame Expo is it's held so late in the year that the majority of titles have already been released, some being months old. The core target audience for the expo - gamers - have already no doubt played a large selection of the games on display, and the ones that they have not, they probably will not. The expo needs to be held earlier in the year to be more relevant to those that will come.
For a console that says it wears its hallowed status on its shirt, Xbox was, for the most part, glaringly absent. Company representatives need to take a long look at the booths for both Nintendo and Sony and come back next year, somewhat more seriously.
Swag was for the most part absent, with only a few lanyards and posters available for attendees. I have no idea what is going on with promotions departments Australia wide, but they are doing a poor job.
Many booths were stagnant, with either nothing in them or non interactive demonstrations...there really is no point. Take a look at what goes on and try to rectify it next year.
Finally, my biggest complaint was the compete afterthought of the digital home section of the show. Basically, two companies showed up: Panasonic and Tivo. Where was Sony with their awesome new Blu-ray players? Where was Toshiba and its great new LCD range? The same can be said of Sharp, and Phillips, and smaller outfits such as Thompson and Nextwave. This section either needs to go, or come back with much, much, much more support than this year's performance. I suspect a few companies may have jumped ship at the last minute, because it was an absolute joke, and a waste of time to boot, but could be so much more.
Overall though it was a good day out, and signals greater recognition of the gaming populace with the Australian public. People of all ages, male and female, and perhaps even gratifying to see, families turned up in droves, and I have no doubt it will be judged a success. And I do look forward to next year, and hopefully some issues will be rectified.[img]egames_12[/img][img]egames_15[/img]