Yesterday I got a chance to check out FanExpo Canada held in Downtown Toronto. FanExpo basically the Canadian Comic Con, but obviously at a much smaller scale. Among the video game publishers that had a presence there were Microsoft, Sony, Ubisoft and WB Games.
At the Ubisoft booth, I was able to get into a 6-player game of deathmatch in Assassin’s Creed Revelations. The Multiplayer mode in Revelations made Brotherhood feel like a proof-of-concept to me, much like how the Single-player campaign of Assassin’s Creed 2 made it’s predecessor feel like a proof-of-concept. The map that we were playing on looked great; the visual fidelity in Revelation’s multiplayer mode easily matched what we’ve seen in the Single-player of previous AC games. The layout of the map was tighter quarters than the standard maps in Brotherhood, and the pulley system was incorporate into the map to encourage players to use the verticality of the map without being easily spotted. Also, there seemed to be a lot less instances of clones moving around on the same screen. But the biggest change came in the omission of the proximity cone from Brotherhood. Instead, to find your target you must get up close to a character which looks like them at which point you’ll see a circle fill up around their head. After that, you’ll be given a prompt to assassinate if it turns out the person you are tailing is your target. However, you’re still free to Assassinate opponents before the circle fills up in case you have already smoked out who your target is. I did have a little bit of trouble playing the game as it was running on PS3s using the PS3 shoulder button layout, whereas I’m used to the usage of triggers on the 360 side of things. That being said, from what I saw, the multiplayer looks like its going to be a big step up from Brotherhood.
Next up was my time at the Xbox booth. Microsoft didn’t have a huge presence at FanExpo, likely because they already had their own events in the city last week. But they did end up giving hands on time to both the Gears 3 and Halo CE Anniversary multiplayer modes. Halo CE’s multiplayer quite frankly was the Halo Reach multiplayer (with abilities and all) with a map based off of Beaver Creek from Halo 2 called Battle Canyon. The map was slightly different than previous incarnations as it included a tunnel in one of the rock formations on the side of the level. The pistol was also noticeably more powerful than in the standard Reach multiplayer mode (much like it was in the original version of Halo CE). I was regularly getting headshotted by enemies across the map who were using Pistols.
I only took a brief glance at Gears 3 as I had already been in the Multiplayer beta earlier this year, but what I saw was visually stunning. Epic clearly hasn’t been resting on their laurels as the visual quality of the game seemed to have jumped since the last time I saw it during the multiplayer beta.
Batman: Arkham City was another visually stunning game that I got a chance to see a demo of at the WB Games booth. I had to check twice to see if they were running the PC version of the game as the image quality of the game was noticeably better than most games that are available on the current generation of console hardware. The controller was a wired 360 controller, and the inputs going into the TV looked like an Xbox 360 video cable, so it seems as though it was the 360 version. The demo consisted of various short scenarios which were cut from various parts of the full game. At one point, Batman was in a room with a stained glass window. As the player broke his way through the glass, my jaw dropped as the large open world environment came into view. Even the tutorial part of the demo (showing how to take down an opponent from above) was very cinematic and did very little to take you out of the action. This demo of the game easily made Arkham City shoot up to be one of my most anticipated titles to come out this fall.
One final thing I’d like to note about FanExpo. This was the convention where TV technology killed video games. In the Assassin’s Creed Revelations demo, they had given us 3D glasses to wear as most of the stations were running in 3D mode. However, Revelations doesn’t natively support 3D mode and this was an artificial 3D mode produced by the TV. And it did absolutely nothing to improve the image. My demo of Halo CE was marred by the fact that the default control settings were set to a sensitivity of “1” (which I changed after about a minute into a 5 minute demo of the game) which was especially bad since I’m used to a sensitivity of “9”, and the TV was a 120hz TV running in some sort of awful Motion smoothing mode which doubles the framerate of the content you are seeing, but also introduces incredible lag. And even the Arkham City demo station’s monitors had a little too much noise reduction going on. Publishers, please get your stuff together when showing games at these events. Not setting up your TVs properly is only going to turn off people from the games.