It’s that time of the year again, EGX has arrived at the Birmingham NEC for the second year running and I was there to try out all the hot new games. After the first year some lessons have been learned, most notably with the abundant of food sources now available on the floor. Literally you could smell burgers during large sections of the event and of course the horrible whiff of the free Tornado energy drinks being handed out (more on that later). Queues though could still be long, with many hours spent queuing for the big stuff. So what did I play first?

Plenty of arcade cabinets in the retro section. Street Fighter Alpha!

Fight! Fight! Fight!

After a quick stroll around to see what was what I quickly darted into the empty WWE 2K17 stand. Having recently played last year’s game courtesy of Games With Gold I was curious to see how this year’s would differ. The answer? Not a lot! For my game I chose the phenomenal AJ Styles and did battle with Finn Balor. If you told me I was playing 2K16 with new characters and a slightly different UI I’d believe you. Not a bad thing if yearly updates are our thing and that’s all you want, but it would’ve been nice to see what different single player content was available.

Reversals, submissions, grapples all worked the same, the only difference was there appeared to be a part at the end where I was able to continue battering my opponent after I won by pinfall. Either that or the demo broke, it was unclear. Also, having a drug cheat and really terrible wrestler as your cover star (who didn’t appear to be in the demo funnily enough) is not a great move either.

Not done with battering virtual people, next stop for me was the fighting hub. Street Fighter V was there in attendance, but Tekken 7 was what I really wanted to take a look at. A nice tournament-like setup with Hori sticks at each station, perfect! Tekken has never been my fighting series, but I have played a number of games in the past and was curious as to how this is looking to stack up against SFV and KOF. Load times were long (something I expect to be fixed on release) but once the game started it felt great. No idea if it’s the same on a controller, but on a stick it feels smooth and responsive. Graphically it’s a not a major leap but does have some nice environments and Akuma looks to have made the move to the Tekken universe seamlessly as I battered him in the final round. Maybe there’s still hope we’ll see a Tekken X Street Fighter.

The Best Display

Well that would be the Mafia III Theatre. Unfortunately not playable at the show, instead we were shown inside what essentially looked like an old fashioned theatre to watch some new footage. And despite not being a hands-on demo, it’s still one I could very well end up pre-ordering prior to release.

The world looks excellent and being able to tackle each objective in a number of different ways (they were really selling that during the video) means this could be the big open world game this holiday season. Sorry Watch Dogs 2!

I can’t drive

What to say about my embarrassment playing GT Sport. A nice setup with pods and wheels, it’s everything a serious fan would want to see when joining the queue. Though as someone who has spent more time in recent years playing the more arcade-centric Forza Horizon series it was a bit of a shock going back to Gran Turismo and wrestling with the force feedback of the wheel just before flying straight into the nearest wall. It feels like a sim, Brands Hatch looks just as good as it has in every other racing game and it looks to be doing what people would expect from a GT game.

If the game ever does come out (how long have we been waiting now?) fans of the series won’t be disappointed. But I do wonder if those fans having already abandoned the series for the likes of Project Cars? The sales figures come release will be interesting to see.

Surprise of the show?

Guys, I think I may have joined the Sonic Cycle because Sonic Mania has me actually excited for a Sonic game for the first time in years. Two acts were playable, one on Green Hill Zone and another in the new Studiopolis Zone. Firstly the Green Hill Zone is pretty much a remake of the first game albeit with a few additional bits towards the end. Studiopolis Zone however is brand new for this game and see’s Sonic bounce off bumpers and fly through satellite dishes in this TV studio inspired world.

Everything feels perfect in a way that a Sonic game hasn’t felt since the original games. Music is nostalgia-inducing, the graphics are great and the levels are nicely broken up with super-fast sections leading into more intricate platform segments.

I would’ve liked to see another all new zone as opposed to yet another reimagining of Green Hill, but everything about this is really, really promising.

Playing with Gravity

Around the corner, hidden just away from the Call of Duty crowd was the Big in Japan section. For the smaller, more niche games coming out of Japan, Gravity Rush 2 is the one game there that I gravitated towards (ha!) the most. I’m a big fan of the original game for the Vita (and now remastered on PS4) so this was already one I was looking forward too.

The demo was too short to get to much of a feel for the game, but it plays very much like the first game. Cut scenes are still played out in 2D drawings, you still manipulate gravity in a similar way and the attacks are all the same from, what I assume, was an early part in the game. I wish there was more to it as the demo only consisted of a small section of combat and exploration as you’re essentially sent on a fetch quest to receive some stolen cargo.

Energy Drink Nightmare

After my first day at EGX I decided to do the unthinkable and take a can of Tornado energy drink home. Given away free upon entry they have become the EGX equivalent of Mountain Dew and Dorito’s because all gamers love to stuff their faces with junk. Which brings to me the main annoyance that this is such a stereotype of gamers. How about giving away something a little healthier?

Anyway, I tried some in the afternoon and preceded to have a headache for most of Thursday evening up until the next morning. I actually couldn’t finish the can it was so sickly. Imagine someone mixing Monster and Red Bull together and then decided it wasn’t sweet enough so added more sugary rubbish to it. After I poured the rest of it down my kitchen sink the smell still stuck around for a good hour later. It is the worst. And this is coming from someone who loves Red Bull so I’m not exactly a snob who hates all form of energy drinks.

It didn’t kill me though, which was what the rest of the Ready-Up staff were predicting. So that’s something. And because I survived you can expect the second part of my EGX round up shortly after.

Tornado Energy Drink