This is the first year that Play Expo has been around, last year it was named “Replay Expo” and I have to say, this is clearly going to work. Originally their expo was like a giant arcade but now it merges 4 areas, while it wasn’t without issues, it clearly has potential and we know the staff have listened to feedback.
The first issue was the lining up, if any of you saw Twitter, it was…angry. They had to push the opening time back due to big technical issues, so people were a little sour. But they stayed open longer to compensate for it, though at this stage people had obviously already made travel arrangements etc.
Once we all got in, the whole mood changed from anger to joy, when people glanced around and saw a blend of retro games, modern games and a few shops they were clearly all full of glee. Each section was separated well, and you could really feel the swapping of zones which gave an interesting feel, because it meant that the people that came for different reasons kept out of each others hair, and really made the games accessible and split the lines up nicely. Meaning unlike MCM there wasn’t a clash of gamers, cosplayers and pop culture buffs. It also meant, again unlike MCM there was no “Clock work” lining, people could move freely and easily. I think that cosplayers and gamers of all kinds can both get a lot more from this expo than they can at any MCM across the country.
Perhaps the best thing about this event, is that it’s on the opposite side of England to the usual events. So people who can’t get to London can finally sink their teeth into a gaming event. The cosplayers and gamers seemed to fit together well, and while I admit that I’m not overly keen on having anime cosplayers in a gaming event, I have to say they were a really nice bunch, and they all came for a love of gaming even if dressed as an anime character.
I’m going to split this into sections now, as I’ve given my overview of the expo.
The stands (Shops and the like!)
Play Expo had a great mix of stands, their official partners Retrocollect had a nice little stand in the middle of the retro area, showcasing shirts and advertising a little. You should check them out!
Console passion were also there, they offer a massive range of retro games that quite frankly blew my mind. We have a picture of their stall from last year in our previous coverage, I’m pretty sure it was bigger this year.
The guys from The Amazing Cake Company had a little stand too, and cake makes everything better – right?
And we saw these guys from Otaku they had a lot of interesting stuff actually, some really decent rare bits and bobs.
Finally, JammArcade were there again, with a giant toy sheep, which was around last year too – no idea why.
Modern Zone/ “Now Play”
It is always hard to convince publishers to come to your expo, especially if it is the first time you are attempting to transform a previous one. The modern area was nowhere near as extensive as the Eurogamer Expo, however they had some very hard hitters, including ZombiU, Metal Gear Solid Rising, HALO 4, and for the first time, Darkstalkers 2 Resurrection.
We have reported on Metal Gear Solid Rising before, but the game again shocked me. Playing through it again was great! I noticed things I didn’t even pick up the first time around someone managed to knock an RPG out of someone’s hands and cut it to shreds in mid air, it was fucking awesome. Again, the turnout was amazing for this game and there was a great deal of glee all around. The people working the stand were great too, some kid queued up for a good hour before being told it was an 18 plus, so they gave him a free 3D poster. Usually you had to beat the demo in under 20 minutes, the posters are great by the way.
The Wii U guys did a great job again, and had some Pokemon plushies to give out, I ended up passing up on mine because they had very limited stock, and there were quite a few kids around. (See, I do have a heart, I don’t just eat them…) It was a great chance for people that missed out on the Wii U and ZombiU to get hands on, the queues were obviously pretty long but nothing compared to Eurogamer’s.
HALO 4 had fairly short lines which shocked me, and I stand by what I said in my previous article, it’s the best of the HALO “trilogy”. It’s somewhere between HALO 3 and HALO Reach, in my honest opinion. A lot of people were shocked to see HALO 4 appear, as it was a very late announcement but it didn’t feel tacked on or anything, there were not any giant posters etc, but it felt like it was meant to be there.
This was the first time we could get hands on with Darkstalkers 2 Resurrection and we have to say it’s looking great, I’m not a great fan of the series, but it’s really sparked my interest. I strongly feel that both fans of the series and newcomers will be pleasantly surprised. The graphics are lightly updated, but I think that gives a good feel to the game, they haven’t destroyed it but they have glossed over it.
The need for speed area was pretty impressive, if you won against the other players you got to have a whirl on a screen that’s over 100 inches, and if you won again you got a free shirt, which is always good.
Persona 4 Arena was also on show, it’s shaping up really well. And I have to say it has the same vibe as DarkStalkers 2 Resurrection. Fans of the series and new comers will love it, the arcade fight pads work damn nicely. The graphics are really nice and crisp. Some great odd characters too! I’m pretty naff with fighters, but I have to say this dragged me in and I had a lot of fun (I got my arse handed to my, by the way.)
They also showcased the new Devil May Cry, which we have previously covered. The cool Xcom machines were out again, but this time we grabbed the guys who put them together – Bespoke Arcades. They said that basically, one Christmas Eve they thought “Hey it would be cool to make arcade cabinets.” And that’s what they did! They’re now a huge supplier, they explained to us that they always draw influence from various games when working on a machine. This gives them a very special tailored cabinet for whatever game they end up working on. Xcom had a command centre styled cabinet, which really complimented the game well, sadly getting one in your house is a bit more difficult. They’re happy to make custom ones, but we all know these aren’t cheap, £2000-5000 not cheap. But believe me, it’s worth having an arcade machine in your house if you can get one.
There was a lot of concern that the replay area would get shunned in favour of the other areas, how wrong people were. This area was perhaps the most impressive, the one major flaw was the lack of light gun arcade machines! I adore those things, but that doesn’t mean they did badly, quite the contrary, in fact. I mean, check out these pictures…
Personally, I think they went over the top with the pinball machines, and that they should have more cabinets, but I think I was probably the only guy that thought that! They were a huge hit, as always. And of course, the other retro stuff was around too, it was all amazingly presented. They had consoles from the Amiga to the Playstation 1, and of course everything in between, no idea what the oldest thing there was to be honest…
Pro Play Area
This is my big moan about the show, while they had a great area to play in and there was clearly a lot of demand they were just bloody annoying. You had to go through to get to the food area. But it was right next to HALO 4, which was really bad because you could hear people swearing and screaming while kids lined up, and I mean it was bloody annoying enough for me I can’t imagine how the parents felt. It was pretty funny though, at one stage someone threw a plastic bottle at one of the stupidly loud ones. I think next year it’s likely they’ll move the Pro-Play area to somewhere a bit more out of the way.
Some of you may have noticed we’ve opened a cosplay section of the website, our very own Testy Starfish did such a good job at this event we thought we should really give her some credit. Anyway, I had mixed feelings about the cosplay area. As it basically consisted of a masquerade and some pretty crowd-less talks, but it was still better than what MCM throw together from their arses.
My major issue was that they said the whole thing was judged off who went into the most effort but the two winners had shop bought costumes, on Sunday they did a smaller scale competition which saw three winners, 2 kids and a necromancer from Guild Wars 2 which was really, really good. She made it all from scratch and even fired smoke.
There were some teething issues, like the co ordinator forgetting the list and getting lost, people getting stuck in the crowd and various other small hiccups, most of all the crowd, like last year seemed disengaged. But it worked pretty well all in all. The judges had only been doing it for a short while, but they didn’t have the same poor speakers as last year, and the coordinator did try very hard to whip the crowd into a frenzy.
They have some pictures on their facebook page, there was some great cosplayers. I’m still annoyed to see the odd anime and film one in there, I must admit. But the gaming ones really did quite well. Obviously there was a load of Vocaloid cosplayers too, but a lot less than I’d expect.
And finally, best of all they had a bar too. So all in all the event was a great success, whether you’re a hard core gamer, cosplyer, casual gamer, retro gamer, you’ll love it, I’m sure.
A new UK gaming expo Play Expo 2012 was announced at an event in central London. The show will occur more
Formerly "Replay" expo, Play Expo is the only real North West gaming Expo. Being held in Manchester they'll be more
So hi, for those who don't know me my name is Chloe Pearce I started cosplaying back in 2009. My more
Enter your WordPress.com blog URL
I bet you thought I was done with BioShock Infinite! Ha, silly bean, one article isn’t enough to sate my more
Alright! Let's talk about another great game series today: Mass Effect! We love Mass Effect! We love SPACE! And what's more
Sony has made many mistakes in this current generation, but its greatest strength has been its substantial support of independent more
Ugh. I have about a billion more things I want to say about BioShock Infinite, but I promised myself I more