Exhibitors hit the power button on the UK’s biggest video game expo last week as the four-day EGX 2017 show took place at Birmingham’s NEC.
The top developers and publishers from the world of gaming were all there showing off upcoming titles and giving those in attendance the chance to get hands on playing time.
The NEC was packed with everything from all genres and eras from the first Spectrum and Commodore 64s in the retro section right through to the XBox One X.
There was no doubt which games stole the show, though, the biggest queues throughout the opening day were for the chance to play the new Mario game on the Nintendo Switch, Mario Odyssey, which launches at the end of October.
Having played it for a good 20 minutes I can confirm it lives up to all the hype. The gameplay and graphics are amazing and this could well be a contender for the Game of the Year while being the title which makes the Switch. In fact I would go as far as to say it reminds us of just why we love video games.
The new COD, out November 3rd, was also showcased. I got hands on with the first person shooter in a local team death match of 16 gamers and they almost had to drag me out of the booth it was that good.
Street Fighter, Overwatch and Destiny tournaments were taking place throughout the day and other titan titles such as FIFA 18, the exciting Assassin’s Creed Origins, Far Cry 5 and Sonic Forces and Mania attracted plenty of attention.
Personally I think both FIFA and PES have now reached the point where they have become far too obsessed with realism and are both pedestrian and unexciting to play for long periods. I lost interest in last year’s FIFA after just two or three weeks and my 15 minutes on the latest iteration in the franchise was all too familiar, slow and ponderous and instantly forgettable.
The same could not be said of another EA title at EGX with Star Wars Battlefront 2 (out November 17th) looking graphically mindblowing. It also looks set to win over the legion of gamers - myself included - who turned their back on the original game after EA neglected to include a solo campaign.
Battlefront 2 addresses that and makes some important improvements to the multiplayer action all of which were well received at EGX.
Another highlight of the day was the return of the great Gran Turismo which is back with GT Sport (October 17th). The biggest thing I can say about the new GT is that the focus has clearly shifted back to making it a more exciting racing experience.
It maintains the huge plethora of cars (130+) and tracks (19 I think) but is less sim and more arcade, which takes it back to its roots and it is all the better for it.
Those attending EGX were among the first and only UK gamers to have the chance to try the Xbox One X ahead of its release later this year.
Announced at last year’s E3 the X is a dramatic upgrade over the standard Xbox One, and has been designed to play games in 4K resolution. Older games are upscaled to look more impressive than the original console and it’s six-teraflop performance makes it the most powerful games console ever made.
Show attendees put the console through its paces with a games lineup including Forza Motorsport 7, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Sea of Thieves and Super Lucky’s Tale.
Virtual Reality was a big deal too with the PSVR and Occulus Rift proving popular. I was desperate to try out Bravo Team on PSVR but once given a time slot you play whatever is free which meant I got to try out Inpatient - an experience I won’t forget in a hurry.
You basically put the headset on and become an inpatient at a mental asylum in what is Sony’s follow-up to the hugely successful Until Dawn. The result is a terrifying experience and not for the faint-hearted as your choices shape the narrative in this surprise scare special.
One of my favourite games of EGX, though, was Cuphead (out September 29th) on Xbox One.
The absolutely gorgeous run and gun platform indie video game by StudioMDHR Entertainment is drawn in the style of 1930s cartoons.
As Cuphead, you fight a series of bosses to repay a debt to the devil. The game was inspired by the works of 1930s cartoonists such as Max Fleischer’s Fleischer Studios and sought to keep the works’ subversive and surrealist qualities.
It’s graphics are jawdropping and you honestly feel like you are playing a cartoon. It’s basic controls are beautifully simple and it is instantly playable with a steep difficulty curve.