Gamescom is now over and I have safely returned to the relatively normality of life back in a world where everybody isn’t obsessed by video games and I have to admit it’s a bit of a comedown. I had an amazing couple of days at the convention and played loads of great games. Believe me when I say that you have a lot to look forward to over the next few months. Yes there were some disappointments at the show, namely the presence of The Last of Us in demonstration form only and the no-show of some of the newly announced Sony games, but there was still lots to talk about, from Resident Evil 6 to God of War: Ascension, a little Assassin’s Creed 3, Black Ops II and loads of other titles besides. My aim of the next week or so is to give you a detailed hands-on insight into these games and what to expect from them. First of all though I know you are all dying to read the rest of my blog so here you go; don’t say I never give you what you asked for!
So I already gave you a brief overview of my first day at the show, but now I’m at home with a decent internet connection let me fill you in on the blanks from when I arrived at Gamescom. Essentially the convention center is organized around a central boulevard, which was thronged with people and pretzel karts at all times of the day. Arranged around this corridor were the four main halls, each the size of a large warehouse and filled to the brim with stands from more or less every game company you can imagine, aside of course from Nintendo and Microsoft.
While every hall had plenty to see, the majority of my time was spent in Hall 6 which was the home of Activision, Blizzard and EA, and Hall 7 which was where Sony set up camp (taking up nearly half of the space in the hall, it really was their show) along with other biggies like Ubisoft, Capcom and Konami. Of course filling out the space around the stands and in the sunny outside areas between each hall were the usual array of eateries and beer tents. There was a decent amount of choice and everything was more or less reasonably priced – when you’re in Germany though you have to opt for the Bratwurst and Currywurst and I certainly didn’t intend on letting the side down!
OK – enough waffling, time for the games. After having a quick mooch around and seeing what was where, I decided that standing in-line for hours might not be the best of starts, so I opted for some handheld action to kick off with. The Sony booth had several comfortable areas where you could sit on bean bags and test out some Vita games (without much of a queue thankfully) so I enjoyed some multi-player and single-player Street Fighter VS Tekken, followed by a blast through a couple of the demo levels of Little Big Planet Vita. You can look forward to more detailed impressions of each of the games I played soon, but suffice to say that both of them will add a lot of value to the game library of the console when they launch later this year.
Next I headed to the Konami stand where they had several 3DS units (regular though, not XL which seemed a little odd) set up to play a game I was looking forward to trying out; Castlevania: Lords of Shadow Mirror of Fate. I was very impressed with the game which felt like a nice mixture of old-school side scrolling along with a modern dynamic camera which showed off the impressive graphics well. I was particularly impressed when I remembered to turn the 3D effect on – this is one game you will want to play in 3D as it works very well with the layered backgrounds. The one criticism I would have is that even bog-standard enemies take an age to take out which can be frustrating. The demo finished with a fun boss battle with a minotaur/ogre type creature which I wasn’t able to defeat despite having a few attempts, the game will certainly not skimp on difficulty it seems!
After my enjoyable hour or so with the two handheld machines I decided after grabbing some food it was time to go for broke and queue for the Sony stand. They way this worked is that you would get in one of several lines, and then get to play each of the games they had available in order once you got into the enclosure. With the absence of The Last of Us, this boiled down to Dust 514, Assassins Creed III (yes, it was playable at both Sony and Ubisofts stand), God of War: Ascension single player and multi-player, and finally Assassins Creed III: Liberation on the Vita. Other games like Little Big Planet Karting and PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale were playable without the queue so I saved those for later.
I have already told you about the pleasurable hour or so I spent in company with a couple of Arkham Asylum inmates so I wont repeat the story here, aside from the fact that it made the wait (and the pain in my feet!) much more bearable. It is indeed a tragedy however that my phone ran out of juice early on the first day or you would have some photos to drool over, I’m afraid you will just have to take my word for it in this case! Anyway, I’m not going to dwell too much on the games at this stage as I will give you all the detailed info later on, but I was very impressed with every one of them, with the God of War multiplayer in particular defying my expectations and actually being a lot of fun. All in all I spent a happy few hours testing all the games out in the Sony enclosure.
By the time I had finished checking out the PlayStation selection it was just about time to get to my hotel and call an end to a crazy day. Cologne is a beautiful city and I decided to join the throng and make my way back into the center of town by crossing over the Rhine over the famous bridge. Walking towards the impressive cathedral and watching the barges travel underneath the bridge on the glittering water made me glad that Gamescom had made its home in the German city, and they really do go all out to welcome game fans there. Anyway, after retrieving my case from the very clever storage system at the train station and grabbing a burger from McDonalds (hey – I was too exhausted to find anything more original!) I got the tram to my hotel which was situated about 20 minutes away on the outskirts of the city.
I got off the tram at the correct stop and found my way to the hotel easily after checking out the route on Google maps a few days before. No problem you would think – it was about 8.30pm by then and I thought a couple of hours chilling out and starting to write-up some previews would give me a relaxing evening. Not so. Having arrived at reception I was promptly told that my reservation had been cancelled as I needed to check in before 6pm and they had no record of my card details which I booked with which would have guaranteed my reservation. Bearing in mind that Gamescom had taken over the city there were no rooms left. I was told that there was nowhere else to go and the best suggestion the guy on reception could give me was that I MAY find a room in Dusseldorf – over 30 miles away!
So what happened next? Did I have to find my way to Dusseldorf? Was I forced to spend the night on a bench in a German park? Find out tomorrow, when I tell you all about it, along with Black Ops II, Wii U, the Gamescom festival and german beer!