by David “Aussie Dave” Lobato, Reporter, and Jayden Legget, Assistant Editor
Quickly after receiving our media passes early on the Friday morning (‘coz thats how we roll), we proceeded towards the EB Arena to take part in the Grand Opening, which turned out to be quite an extravagant affair indeed. After a brief introduction by EB Games Australia Managing Director Steve Wilson, the event kicked-off with a video presentation of the last decade of video games, before cranking it up a notch with live dancers, and then some awesome stunt work by the Showtime Freestyle Motocross Team. These guys were insane! The event finished with a video spotlight on the upcoming Assassin’s Creed III, complete with a costumed stuntman diving off of a high-reaching platform. This was a very well put-together and high-budget display that perfectly set the scene for what was to come over the next couple of days for the weekend.
Upon first entering the doors into Sydney Olympic Park’s Dome, we were both surprised and overwhelmed at the size of the venue and also at the size of the booths on display. Nintendo had a massive presence promoting the upcoming release of the highly anticipate Wii U console, while the other big two console brands Sony and Microsoft also had their own setups to pimp out their wares, with Sony showing-off their PS Vita and PS3 titles while Microsoft were really giving the Xbox 360 and also its Kinect features a real workout. Razer, known for their quality gaming mice were showing off their range of gaming peripherals, while Alienware had a booth where gamers could check out some of their ridiculously crazy-awesome-powerful machines. Of course the big games publishers like Ubisoft, EA, Warner Bros, Activision, 2K, Konami, THQ and Sega were all there to create some buzz over their exciting upcoming titles, so be sure to stay tuned for some much more in-depth previews of some of these great games as well as our impressions of the Wii U console (which for now we will briefly comment on by saying it was ridiculously fun and we are all highly considering pre-ordering one…)
Like any convention of this nature, there were many queues to endure, but many of the products we got to sample at the end made it worth the wait. One case in point is the intriguing MAG II Induction Gun controller, which Dave got to sample on Modern Warfare 3 for the PS3. A gun that is boasted for being compatible with all first-person shooters, the MAG II has a standard controller configuration in the hand grips, and looking is controlled by waving the gun about. Frankly it was quite awkward and felt very unnatural to use at first. That being said it was a heck of a lot of fun, and we can definitely envision that once a player gets accustomed to this device they could very quickly become somewhat unstoppable. The MAG II is a new interpretation of something that has been tried before, only this time around it feels more polished. Although this particular piece of hardware was very fun, we can only hope that it does not open the doors to the market being flooded by dozens of further external accessories like what happened to the original Wii.
Another highlight of an event such as EB Expo is acting like a complete tool in front of a large audience, a feeling which was catered for perfectly by the many playable Xbox Kinect titles. Jayden had a brief dabble with Avengers: Battle For Earth, in which he succeeded in looking like a moron and failed in pulling off any of the attacks correctly, though this could be due to the poor translation of the player’s movements to the onscreen attacks, as the detections seemed a bit hit and miss. Dave had a crack at Fable: The Journey. Graphically this is a lot cleaner than the previous Fable titles, and this new controller-free take on the Fable franchise looks like it can be very fun indeed, as players use hand gestures to pull-off different spells and such. Unlike many Kinect games, this one allows you to sit down, something that is a very refreshing change indeed. Of course there are the obligatory dancing games like Dance Central 3 which frankly looked like more of the same but with more moves to pull off, but we must admit that it is very refreshing to see that there are a variety of different titles coming out for Kinect that aren’t simply dance or sports related, as this peripheral has a hell of a lot of potential, if only more publishers would jump on board and try something new and daring. Jayden particularly got a kick out of watching a couple of girls (one dressed in an animal costume) jumping around to the Nat Geo game, with their onscreen animal counterparts swatting at the scenery and so on. The cuteness on display was so adorable it was almost nauseating!
Naturally, there were many big games present that we all had a dabble at such as Black Ops II, Assassin’s Creed III, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Injustice: Gods Among Us and a lot more, but as we previously mentioned we are going to devote a lot more space to these titles in the next coming days. But for now Dave and I both feel compelled to mention two more aspects that helped make to shape this expo: cosplay, and booth babes (check out our photos on our Facebook page here). A huge variety of costumes were on display, a lot of which were obviously the result of hours of hard work from their wearer. And the girls! My god, so many, many beautiful women promoting products. Be still, my beating heart… In addition to the many people and workers who were present (all of whom that we met were incredibly friendly and a real credit to the atmosphere of the weekend), for Dave the expo had one defining moment when shit just got awesome, and that was when the Urban Dance crew responsible for showing-off Just Dance 3 performed “The Final Countdown” by Europe. If he had more drinks in him by then, all 6500 attendees would have heard him singing… or at least trying.
To wrap things up on Sunday, the EB Arena was again host to a ceremony, this time to end the weekend on a high note. First off, the MC John Robinson boldly declared that he had a hot wad of $1000 worth of $50 EB Games gift vouchers up for grabs, as he proceeded to toss them about into the crowd, causing many minor tussles but of course providing $50 worth of happiness to many a nerd (twenty of them, in fact). He then went on to introduce and commentate the Cosplay Evolved Live Performance of the seven finalists, featuring many well-designed costumes. Costumes included Clayton from Gears of War, a Walking Dead zombie (complete with a Michael Jackson “Thriller” dance routine), Deadpool, Nathan Drake and Elena from Uncharted (with a special cameo of “Nurse Joker” from The Dark Knight), Flemeth from Dragon Age II, Princess Zelda from Ocarina of Time, and Plant Man from the Mega Man series. Julia won a $3000 EB Games voucher as first prize for her Plant Man costume and performance, while Adam took out a $500 gift voucher second prize for his Clayton costume and Lady Juna received the third prize of a $200 gift voucher for her Flemeth costume.
The whole shebang ended with the announcement of the winners of the EBX Awards, as voted for by attendees and media. Halo 4 won ‘Most Anticipated Game’, ‘Best Booth’ went to Warner Bros. Games, while Ubisoft took out the award for ‘Best EB Live Presentation’. The media voted Injustice: Gods Among Us as the ‘Best Game In Show’, while the huge honor of ‘Best Game In Show’ as voted by the attendees was the well deserving Assassin’s Creed III (stay tuned for our opinions of this much-anticipated game).
Needless to say, ComicsOnline had an absolute blast at this year’s EB Games Expo. It was well worth Dave and Jayden’s trip up from Melbourne, and is definitely something we will be attending again next year. In case we have not yet persuaded you, if you are able to withstand the lengthy queues, we strongly recommend to as many gamers as possible to get your butts to next year’s event!
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