Eurogamer Expo 2012 Round-up – Part One

So I had the wonderful opportunity of wandering around the most recent Eurogamer Expo at Earl’s Court, London last week. There were a surprising amount of fantastic games on show, a number of them also being the first time that consumers are able to play demos of them as well. Over the next week or so I’ll be listing off my experiences and opinions of a number of these great games, which will all eventually be making their way to PC.

A small note, however: I will not be covering Call of Duty: Black Ops II, I’m afraid. As a Call of Duty veteran, I’ve been so disappointed with Treyarch and Infinity Ward since Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (and the whole Activision lawsuit debacle) that I cannot bring myself to stand in line to play it. Sorry guys and gals.

Hit the gap for my thoughts on Assassin’s Creed 3 and Hitman: Absolution

Assassin’s Creed 3

First up, it’s everyone’s favourite non-bald assassin, albeit in a different era…and, in fact, character, but you know what I mean. This time around it’s a half-Brit (sweet!), half native-American assassin (and swashbuckler, but we’ll get to that later) during the American revolution. Ubisoft predictably had a massive section of the expo dedicated to them, with all sorts of games on show (we’ll get to some more of those later).

What we could play

There were two demos on show at the Assassin’s Creed stand for the 4 day expo, the first showcasing the actual assassinating, sneaking, fighting, running and jumping that we’ve all come to know and love; and the second showing the fancy new naval warfare system which so flummoxed the adoring fans when first announced. We’ll get to both these parts in a bit.

Demo 1 – Naval Warfare

The graphics themselves have not shown that much improvement over the past iterations. The environmental effects are still wonderful to behold, though the textures and anti-aliasing may leave a little room for improvement, which will probably happen when it heads to the PC a full month later than its console release.

One thing I have to commend is the graphics and environmental effects in the naval warfare demo. Everything looks absolutely fantastic, inasmuch as it just feels realistic. This is probably the best depiction of naval warfare from a third-person perspective that I have seen in a while. Ubisoft have got something here.

The way the ships, seamen and seas move is done extremely well. The controls as well: apart from the actual steering, which you can do yourself, all the controls are basically shouted orders. Full-sail, half-sail, no-sail, changing shot-types, taking cover and firing all weapons all get realistic and solid responses. It’s very satisfying. If I had my way I would tell Ubisoft to just scrap the assassin part and just go straight naval-warfare.

Demo 2 – Assassination

Not that the assassin part is in any way bad. The other demo showed off a lot of solid combat, assassination and sneaking, though I didn’t get to try out all the variations on it. Though the demo was very linear, it did its best to show off all the great styles of combat, gameplay and scripted events. It looks great, and feels great too. Again, it all feels very familiar, though I’m sure we’ll be surprised by the amount of new gameplay features and moves we can do, especially with the introduction of the new character and era.

Final thoughts

The whole game sounds great. Though the new voice-actor leaves a little to be desired (it’s just a tad bland), everything else is top-notch. Again, I have to commend the sound design for the naval battles, and just the general ambiance and environmental effects of the game.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t that much else on show. No free-roaming outdoor environments to run around in, ship-to-ship boarding or hand-to-hand combat, but from what I saw, Assassin’s Creed 3 is fixin’ to become a welcome, familiar and popular full-blown sequel.

Assassin’s Creed will be released on October 20th for the Xbox 360 and PS3 and November 20th for the PC.

Hitman: Absolution

From one assassin to the other, Mr 47 himself has a lot to live up to, following the fantastic Hitman: Blood Money. Following on from this perfection of their formula, IO Interactive have gone in all guns blazing to up the scale of the series, which is definitely apparent from the amount of marketing this game has received (though let’s just ignore the trite and overtly sexualized ‘sexy nuns’ trailer).

What we could play

The demo on show features just the one level, King of Chinatown, which tasks 47 to take out the self-proclaimed King, a notorious gang-leader, in the crowded streets of Chinatown. Though there is only one level, the amount of ways you can go about your business is typically Hitman. I played the demo multiple times to try out different ways of getting the job done. As with Blood Money, the levels are wonderfully crafted, and just feel so alive.

Gameplay & Graphics

As for the gameplay, it feels very familiar, which is wonderful.

Some of the ways I took down the king included poisoning his drugs (much to the horror of his dealer as he watches the king die from the drugs he supplied him), blowing up his snazzy car with a well-timed remote detonation, rigging some loose scaffolding to fall on him as he’s taking a leak, or just plain ol’ sniping him in the face with the then-folded-in-to-a-locker drug dealer’s prized sniper rifle from a window.

It’s also an opportunity to showcase the graphics and technology: Chinatown is busy. Though not as busy as the memorable ‘Murder of Crows’ level from the previous game, the amount of activities going on is fantastic. IO Interactive’s crowd technology is a thing to behold, and does not miss a beat. Everything and everyone is alive, though still confined to the level, of course. As far as the general engine graphics are concerned, there is improvement over the general graphics of Blood Money of course, though it’s not quite as noticeable as I thought it would be.

Final Thoughts

It’s like we never left Blood Money, though of course throughout the game there’ll be a number of new gameplay surprises. Anyone who has played Blood Money will slide in to this game as easy as pie. This will be good.

Hitman: Absolution will be released on November 20th.

So that’s it for now. Stay tuned for more, including a visit to Dishonored, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Far Cry 3 and more.