On the 27th and the 28th of September 2013, Callum Petch attended the Eurogamer Expo with the intention of playing as many games and attending as many panels as he could stand standing in lines for. The following posts chronicle his adventures…
Hey, everybody! It’s Monday! Nobody’s ever particularly happy on a Monday, so let’s use today’s entry in my Eurogamer Expo adventure chronicles to talk about some things that made me less than happy, so that the rest of the remaining articles can be a mixture between slight nods of approval and unbridled happy happy joy joy!
I should admit upfront that I have not played Gran Turismo 5. In my defence, 2010 was a busy year… as was 2011… and 2012. Point is, despite having highly enjoyed Gran Turismo back on the PlayStation and PlayStation 2, I never got around to playing the first PS3 instalment. There were other games that interested me more and less than stellar reviews completed the idea that I should stay away and spend my money on other better games. I mention this because when I told a few of my Internet friends my various problems with what I played of Gran Turismo 6, one of them stopped me and asked if I had played GT5. When I answered in the negative, they explained that all of my problems in GT6 were still present in GT5. Funnily enough, this did not help my assessment of Gran Turismo 6.
But for those of you who missed out on Gran Turismo 5 and want to know what’s what, I’ll list my complaints, of which there are few but, seeing as Gran Turismo 6 is primarily a racing game, they’re pretty big complaints. Chief of which is the act of driving which is, in a word, dull. Sure, cars are responsive but they’re no fun whatsoever to drive. There’s no danger, no risk, you’re pretty much always in control; they’re too robotic. Most criminally, there’s no sense of speed to any of them; driving at 110MPH feels exactly as slow and pedestrian as driving at 40MPH. Any driving game should be able to make driving at 110MPH feel like the reckless, thrilling act that it likely is (not that I’d know, what are you, some kind of cop?), GT6 makes it feel like you’re a 75 year-old lady on the way down to the shops to buy your Sunday lunch. And the act of racing other people is similarly dulled by opponent AI being comically easy. On all four races that I tried, I breezed past them by the end of the first lap and was basically racing the clock afterwards.
Of course, Gran Turismo has had difficulty with the whole “racing” thing in the past. But at least it’s always been a graphical powerhouse, so that would stand to mean that GT6 looks similarly amazing, right? Well, sadly, I have to disappoint you here, too. It doesn’t look bad, per se, just way behind pretty much everything else that this generation has put out. Cars lack detail, both exterior and especially interior (several of these car interiors are so lifeless and empty, it genuinely makes me wonder why Polyphony even bothered putting an in-car view in if they weren’t even going to try and make them look good), most environments seem to have been made on the same hardware that made Gran Turismo HD Concept back in 2006 and a far-off mountainside, on one track, looked suspiciously like a scanned in photograph that was being dragged along the screen as I drove past. There’s nothing that will make you go “OH GOD, MY EYES!!” and vomit blood in disgust, but it’s just supremely lazy work and I expect far better from a development team that used to be renowned for pushing hardware to its technological limits.
Interestingly, none of the booths at the Expo had any sound whatsoever, none coming from the TVs and no headphones to put on, either, almost like those who had set them up didn’t want me to critique the game’s sound design. If it was anything like the rest of what I played of Gran Turismo 6, that’s a canny bit of booth design, there. It’s actually kind of depressing to see Gran Turismo fall so hard this generation, as title after title after title delivers a far more interesting, far more fun and far better designed racing experience than GT. Complacency seems to have firmly set in at Polyphony for GT6’s development, because this is a firmly dull driving experience and, when there are far better driving games on the market now and coming soon (I imagine that Forza Motorsport 6 will continue to uphold the excellent standard that series is known for), there is no reason for you to spend your time and money on this one.
Straight after this, on my Saturday morning, I decided to go and grab some lunch, feeling exhausted from my busy morning of standing in lines for the Oculus Rift and Batman: Arkham Origins. Having learned from visiting Earl’s Court for the Expo last year, by packing a lunch instead of relying on their overpriced and paper-tasting food, I decided to eat my lunch whilst catching a programme at the Tournament Area. After all, in my personal opinion, few sports are just as exciting for the spectator as for the people engaging in it as a good fighting game between two skilled opponents. Dinner and a show, and all that.
So, I arrive at the area and see that a Divekick invitational is finishing up, to be followed by a Dead Or Alive 5 invitational. “Excellent!” I thought. “Just what I wanted!” So I sat down and started to eat my lunch. It’s a very good thing that I really needed to eat because otherwise the stage’s hosts would have sent me running for anywhere else in the Expo. Yes, even the line for Call Of Duty: Ghosts. The first two, who were up for the Divekick invitational and seemed to be cosplaying as Vaas from Far Cry 3 and Troy Baker respectively, at the time drove me insane with their terrible jokes and lame attempts to hype the crowd of about 12 up by abusing the Mick Foley cheap pop (for those unaware of the term: the Mick Foley cheap pop is when somebody of famous repute reaches for easy cheers of affection from the crowd by using variations on the phrase “It’s great to be here in [INSERT CITY HERE]”). However, by the time I finished my lunch, I was willing to let them off with a mild slap on the wrist.
That’s because the host they brought on for the Dead Or Alive 5 invitational was even worse. First, he brought out a Korean professional DOA5 player for the singular purpose of getting him to, on-stage, dance to Gangam Style. The guy seemed more than happy to oblige, but the whole situation still felt really wrong and uncomfortable for, well, everyone except those on stage. (Side Note: the fact that we are apparently still making Gangam Style a thing a year on saddens me as to the state of our culture.) Then he proceeded to act extremely condescending to everybody that came up on stage for a game, speaking in a manner that’s normally reserved by primary school teachers for the alphabet. But all of this was a warm-up for his match commentary or, more specifically, his lack of. Instead of actually commentating on the events that were going on, he instead spent the entirety of each match pandering to the sexualisation of Dead Or Alive’s women. Below is just a sample of his various pieces of “commentary”.
“The lovely Kasumi chosen, there. My kind of women, female ninjas.”
“Dead Or Alive, as we all know, is the kind of fighting game series that’ll appeal to your girlfriends. Because of the sexy ladies (he added, in case you didn’t get the joke).”
“Look at those wonderful outfits that leave little to the imagination! I love them! (His delivery, by the way, was completely unironic)
“Who says girls can’t fight?”
It actually got to the point where my notepad, which I had pulled out to chronicle the insanely cringe-y train-wreck, without my even meaning it to, devolved into various scribbled down variations of “MAKE IT STOP!!” It was physically painful to sit through and re-enforced my continued shame to call myself a fan of Dead Or Alive. I got the hell out as soon as I finished my dinner and attempted to put that whole experience behind me. Later, near the end of the day, when everything was winding down and pretty much every game I still wanted to try having lines too long for me to join before having to leave, I braved the area yet again to catch the Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown finals where, thankfully, things had improved. The DOA5 host was relegated to hype man and the new main commentator, who looked like Wyatt Cenac, actually did a good job of calling the action and getting the crowd into the otherwise mostly one-sided fights. See, a half-decent host makes or breaks good e-sports coverage, not the matches themselves! You learn something new every day!
Finally in today’s Eurogamer coverage, because I feel like I’ve slacked off if I don’t talk about at least three things in each of these posts, an upcoming PS3, PS4 and PS Vita title: Doki Doki Universe. … … …I got nothing. I really don’t have anything substantial here because, quite frankly, I have absolutely no idea how this game works. You play as a robot who is abandoned on an asteroid by his family. Eventually, he is picked up by another robot who informs him that he will be taken away and reprogrammed unless he can display compassion, empathy and traces of humanity (all things that he is hinted to have been abandoned for for lacking in the first place). To do this, the game drops you into a level full of people with various problems and wants and needs and tasks you to figure out what those are.
In essence, it’s a puzzle game, one where you try and cheer people up by gifting them various things. To do so, you have to spend stickers, which each have various different objects on them, and spending them makes them become various things in the real world, kind of like the gimmick in the latest Paper Mario. At least, I think that this is how the game works, because the demo gave me almost zero indication as to what I was supposed to be doing. There seemed to be no end goal, several people, even after going through all of the various dialogue trees to pump every last scrap of info out of them, gave no hints as to what they wanted or how to go about accomplishing what they wanted… It feels like the kind of game that needs a lot of hands-on time to click with, the kind of hands-on time that the show floor of the UK’s biggest gaming expo simply couldn’t provide.
At least I could get a sense of the game’s atmosphere from my short period with it. The writing and art-style are both blunt and a bit crude in the construction but ooze charm. It creates a nice child-like feeling of wistful melancholy, unique in the realm of videogames and should help ease me through the acclimatisation process of the gameplay. Doki Doki Universe is clearly unlike anything I’ve ever played, which is precisely I walked away from it at the Expo confused and with few coherent thoughts on it. This is one game that really needs to be experienced solo, far away from the hustle and bustle of an Expo floor.
The Expo adventures will continue in further blog posts every weekday between Monday and Thursday until Callum Petch has ran out of articles here on GameSparked!
Callum Petch ain’t nutin’ ta f*ck wit. Read his weekly gaming column Petchulant every Friday here on GameSparked!