It's time for more gaming at Auckland's Armageddon expo.
This yearâs Armageddon Pulp Culture Expo had a lot to live up to. Last year two of the next-generation gaming consoles - Nintendoâs Wii and Sonyâs PlayStation 3 - had their first public appearance. But does â07 live up to the hype?
There was no doubt that high expectations were surrounding the event. This was obvious even before walking in the front door - the queue at 12:30 was conservatively at least 250 people long. Inside was no less busy either. Mental note to self: buy a prepaid ticket next time.
The gaming floor was dominated almost entirely by Sony displaying high definition TVs (no black tape over the brand name this time, I might add) running Ridge Racer 7, MotorStorm, andâŚnothing else for the PS3. There was a large area set up for multiplayer âThe Eye of Judgementâ, a new interactive card playing game involving the Playstation Eye. I personally didnât get a chance to play it, but just as much fun was had by watching. Itâs interesting to see the characters attack or jump out of the way as you swipe your hand in front of the camera. Weâll see if this kind of gameplay is revolutionary or short lived in the NZGamer review.
Also in the Sony area was the PlayStation Portable, with smaller Bravia TVs being used as the display instead of the handheld. On show here was The Simpsons Game, around which children swarmed like bees. Spyro: The Eternal Night and Crash of the Titans were there too, the only PS2 titles representing the platform at the event. Countless reiterations of both games have been made, so mainly only the casual gamers were interested.
Electronic Arts was there in full force as usual. Need for Speed: ProStreet is clearly EAâs flagship title this season; a modified racing car was parked near the doors, attracting more camera phones than the lone Sony booth babe. The game itself looks smooth - the graphics and sound are both highly detailed and well polished, although I must say that when attempting to load one race, the Xbox 360 crashed and went to a âXenon Error Reportâ screen. Luckily, the 360 restarted and went on to make a full recovery.
Other games in the EA section were Skate, The Simpsons Game, Fifa 08, and The Sims: Castaway.
Downstairs, meanwhile, the Nintendo Gaming Hall was raking in gamers from every age group. Attractions included Metroid Prime: Corruption, Linkâs Crossbow Training, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, Spiderman: Friend or Foe, Ratatouille, Brain Age, and Wii Sports. Nintendo really seemed to have put the most effort into their display - it was easily the most attractive and well-organised setup of the event. Wii boxes were neatly stacked around the place, and posters for each game lined the black curtains. Also, each of the games being showcased for the Wii were being played on big Samsung HD TVs.
Metroid Prime looked fast-paced and quite pretty, but nobody seemed to know how to play. The Nintendo people actually had to help out quite frequently. Another popular title was Linkâs Crossbow Training, a Zelda spin-off that uses a new piece of hardware called the Wii Zapper. It features a slot that fits the Wii remote inside, and looks like a sub machine gun. Gameplay wise, though, I found it very repetitive, and left me wondering whether Nintendo still knows the difference between a full retail title, and a downloaded mini-game.
Perhaps the most upsetting part of this yearâs Expo was the very obvious lack of Guitar Hero 3. The demo was recently released on the main disc of Tony Hawkâs Proving Ground on every major platform, and so itâs disappointing that it wasnât possible to have a stand working.
Armageddon is still, however, New Zealandâs largest gaming event, and itâs growing exponentially each year. It may be easy for some to complain that their favourite game wasnât there, or that somebody stayed on the only 360 running Halo 3 for half an hour just to beat a bunch of ten year oldsâŚahem. But once you get past the B.O. and the extinction of booth babes, itâs easy to enjoy what is being offered. Last yearâs Expo featured the next generation consoles locked away inside a glass case.
This year was all about the general public being able to finally get their hands on the solid games of each platform, and so in that regard, it succeeded admirably.