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Time to return to the Square Enix booth for the Tomb Raider gameplay walkthrough. Once everyone arrived, we all went in and had a seat; after a couple hours of walking, this was a welcome relief. The gameplay started shortly after a previous trailer called Turning Point. Some of the first things I noticed were the eyes and brow of Lara Croft. They were some of the most expressive I’ve seen in a game. Her facial expressions in the demo ran from fear to confusion to anger, and each was just wonderfully emoted on her face. Besides the wonderful character artwork there were great-looking environments; trees and water; and wildlife, deer and rabbits. As the demo progressed you could see that the reboot is much more mature and realistic than the previous games in the series. I have to say I’m really excited to see how this one turns out.
With only 2½ hours left in the day after lunch, I went off to see if I could find some of the others at our prearranged gathering location, the Star Trek booth. No one was there, so I went ahead and got my picture taken in the captain’s chair with a Trek babe on each side. The picture looked good, but I really didn’t need it to add more weight to me. I walked to the front to get in line to see the presentation. The line was long, but what the heck, it’s Star Trek. After a few minutes they told us they had a heating issue and there’d be a slight delay. I still had Thursday, and with time being limited I decided to come back later and took off for X-Com: Enemy Unknown.
Walking past Aliens: Colonial Marines (which had an awesome lifter attacking an alien), Spec Ops: The Line and Injustice: Gods Among Men and finally coming to the X-Com line, I just had to wait for this classic to see how it had been updated. I’m happy to report the core gameplay still seems intact and has been visually updated. While waiting in line, one weird thing happened. I was handed an arm patch, which in itself isn’t too weird. But when I turned it over it showed the month and day of my birthday. How freaky is that? The game started in what I believe would’ve been called a Terror Site. The aliens had landed and the city was in shambles and burning. The current X-Com team consisted of rookies and didn’t last long. One member was ripped apart, one had his mind taken over by an alien and ate his grenade, and so on. They called in the expert team, lead by none other than Sid Meier (that got a chuckle out of everyone), whose expertise was psychic attacks. Also included in the team were a sniper, who could fly about to reach those really good sniping spots, and a cloaked soldier. This game is on my must-have list as it stands now. On our way out I did ask the presenter if Sid Meier would be a playable character. The answer was about as vague as you could get. The graphics designer and Meier are good friends, and when asked if he could add him to the demo, Meier agreed. Read into it what you will, but my guess is that Sid will be hidden somewhere in the game.
I walked out and across the way for Zone of Enders, a wonderful PS2 game. After making a short video of the gameplay, I was asked to stop, so I had to delete it. What I can tell you is that it’s a beautiful game in HD. The gameplay is just as I remember it, and I plan on buying it. I asked if any new content would be available and unfortunately at this time the answer was no. I find that even if no new content is released, the game is still on the must-have list.
Amongst all the game booths and areas for PCs and consoles, hardware and software, I found a very interesting area for a company called GREE. Their focus is on mobile gaming. There were very few mobile-gaming booths that I saw, but this one was really well done and hopefully gets them some attention. There were several games on display, including Wacky Motors, Driland, Crime City and Zombie Jombie, just to name a few. They ran the gamut from cute to more serious, and catered to all types of gamers. I know the wife will be interested in Crime City, and the kids will want anything zombie, so Zombie Jombie for them. Check them out here.
Time was running out, so off I went for some retro and found Namco’s Pac-Man Arcade Party. There’s nothing better than playing the originals in an arcade cabinet, and while this one was a little smaller (21″x33″x60″) than the original cabinet, it still had a great feel and look. Even with a bit of a high price point, as a retro nut and one who has such great memories of playing these games in the arcades, I can see myself saving up for this. Available games included Pac-Man, Mappy and Bosconian, just to name a few. In fact, I want this so bad I can taste it, and that doesn’t happen a lot.
Before my first day came to a close I had to take a quick look at the Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft areas. The first area I hit was Nintendo, which was busy (as expected) and I didn’t have the energy to work my way in. Walking around the Nintendo area I became distracted by some very cool lighted gaming peripherals from a company called PDP. What first drew my attention was some awesome-looking lighted glasses. They really didn’t do anything, but they looked cool as hell, and as a gamer, that’s important. Looking around I found lighted headphones that were very cool as well. Almost like Tron brought to life.
When I went back to working my way around, I almost dropped a solid gold brick when I saw the Gaming Museum. So many awesome memories and…oh, look! A Commodore Vic-20. This was my first home computer, all thanks to an ad featuring William Shatner as Capt. James T. Kirk. For a first computer it really was a great little beginner system for its time, and of course it helped introduce many gamers to making their own games, especially after upgrading to the Commodore 64. I hadn’t seen many of these systems in more than a decade (remember the Arcadia, Colecovision or the R.O.B?). Around the area they also had classic arcade games that I hadn’t seen or played in more than 20 years, such as Astro Blaster and Rastan. Seeing a copy of 1942 brought back a flood of memories, including meeting one of my best friends, Jeff Hutton. I would knock his high score down at Seigle’s Deli in St. Cloud, only to have him knock mine down the next day. This went on for about a week before we finally ran into each other. No one can replace memories like that, and it’s a bit of a shame that nowadays, with arcades pretty much extinct, my kids (or any kids for that matter) will never experience anything close to that, and can only see many of these classics in a museum.
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