eGames & Entertainment Expo 2007: Report

This was the first games expo I've attended but I must say that it was largely what I would have expected: various game companies pushing their latest games and consoles (Sony and Nintendo doing the lion's share), various tertiary education institutions pushing their games-related courses (sadly Melbourne Uni hasn't caught on) and various vendors trying to sell you stuff. Still, overall it was quite enjoyable and great to be able to check out the latest games without having to, say, buy a PS3. Following are some of my highlights from the event and my general review.

As I mentioned before, Sony and Nintendo were doing most of the marketing – they each had large areas assigned to them and were showing off at least a dozen games each as well as their respective consoles and handhelds. Sony in particular went to great effort to put their games on large, 1080p HDTV screens to maximise the eye candy of the PS3. Nintendo, on the other hand, seemed content to let the games do the talking for them (

Super Mario Galaxy had queues of people lining up to play). Microsoft had a huge inflated Master Chief helmet but they weren't really showing off much in the way of games, only Halo 3 and Mass Effect running on a couple small screens. One of the interesting things is that, because you have both consoles makers and games publishers at the same event, it's sometimes confusing as to who is responsible for what. For instance, Yamaha had an area and were using a Wii to show off their surround sound systems but from a distance is almost looked like another Nintendo booth.

The games of the day for me were Crysis, Heavenly Sword and Assassin's Creed. Crysis looks gorgeous but mostly the same in terms of gameplay (no surprise there). Heavenly Sword I had to describe to someone as an "ocular orgasm" because it just looks that good. The gameplay did look a bit tame but I think the visuals alone would justify a purchase if it cost about $75 (it doesn't unfortunately). Assassin's Creed was, I think, the darling of the expo as I believe I saw it in three different places: running on both Xbox 360s and PS3s. I couldn't really tell much of a difference between the two versions, but at one point it looked like the Xbox version didn't have shadows turned on. Weird. The game seems to be similar, gameplay-wise, to Thief or Splinter Cell but the graphics are very "next-gen" and it actually manages to convey a living world, filled with people. Most parts of the game I saw had at least 20 people on screen at any one time in narrow city streets.

Super Mario Galaxy had a lot of people excited about it and the crowd around the three TVs running it were larger than most. I'm still trying to work out how exactly it's played as there seems to be an odd two-player setup where two people control a single Mario. It does look like great fun though and the playing area is huge and seemingly allows for complete non-linear exploration.

There were a few competitions set up with Call of Duty 4, Unreal Tournament 3 and so on. Some even had commentators. I'm not really into those sort of multiplayer games so I watched for a few minutes and moved on.

The main stage had different events running throughout the weekend but I never ended up checking any out. It looked like the usual sort of stuff though: panels, presentations and competitions. I think there was even a cosplay competition on at one point – obviously an attempt to try and maximise the audience for the expo. Unsurprisingly, the cosplay competition had what I think was the most number of people watching it.

Speaking of all things anime, Madman Entertainment had a booth in the middle of the convention hall. I ended up spending an obscene amount of money updating my anime and manga collections. I worked it out and I ended up saving roughly $60 by buying the stuff there instead of online or in a store. From now on I should try to do all my shopping at conventions!

One of the highlights of the expo was seeing tons of people walking around in some shirts from the Swinburne gamers club. Basically the shirt was red, with a send up of the OFLC's R18+ logo, instead having the text beside it: "This rating not suitable for mature adults." This is an old issue but still one that I think baffles a lot of people – why does Australia not have an R rating for games? All the other ratings have been brought into line with the movie ratings but for some bizarre reason the OFLC has refused to allow 18+ games to be sold (legally) in Australia. A sea of bright red shirts was a welcome sign of passive protest.

Something that didn't surprise me but I still found interesting was the presence of a toned down version of "booth babes". Basically, half the booths there had at least one, but usually several, hot women dressed in revealing clothes (hot pants, low-cut tops) to draw attention. What I found hilarious was at one booth where a bunch of guys were sitting around ogling Assassin's Creed running on a 102 inch Panasonic TV – the two girls wandering around weren't even getting a glance! I must admit, I only looked once myself before turning back to the game. Since I'm sure some women will be reading this, rest assured that they also had (what I assume to be) hot guys wearing tight t-shirts. I can't comment too much on this though as I wasn't really paying attention to them. :)

So overall, I think the event was a success. There were plenty of people there and everyone looked like they were having a blast (sometimes literally, in a virtual sense). I definitely had fun and came away with a ton of swag so I'm happy, even though I didn't actually spend more than a few hours there on Friday and Saturday. Did any readers end up attending? I'd like to hear what other people thought about it.