For three days Sydney Olympic Park was home to the EB Games Expo. Gamers and cosplayers flocked from Sydney and beyond to be a part of EB's second ever expo, and the biggest Australia has ever seen.
As media entered the arena, followed by the public, we waited for the grand opening to begin. Dubstep versions of video game theme songs blasted through the speakers, and everyone competed to get their tweet up on the tweet-projecting wall. Steve Wilson, managing director of EB Games Australia, gave the opening speech and welcomed everyone to the Expo. He wisely stated that he wouldn't keep us long, as he didn't want to "stand in the way of gamers and their games." The opening went through the top games of the past 15 years (the length of time EB has existed) with the Ubisoft dancers busting a move on stage to the hits of each year. Motocross and pyrotechnics were all part of the show, and although exciting, it was clear everyone just wanted to get in and play some games.
When we were all let loose on the showroom floor, the first thing I was on the hunt for were the ever controversial booth babes. This was my first expo, and booth babes always seem to be on the top of everyone's list for either the best or worst of the show. The EB Games Expo didn't seem to have many around, so I figured I might as well get this show on the road.
First stop, Nintendo. This was Australia's first hands-on time with the Wii U, and missing out was not an option. ZombiU is easily one of the most anticipated launch titles for the forthcoming console, and it definitely lives up to the hype. Sadly, I died a minute and a half into the game, but that made it even more interesting - my character spawned as a zombie, which added to the horde for the next player. Next up was Assassin's Creed 3. I watched on as our sales manager took the helm of a ship using the GamePad to navigate the seas and assassinate the enemy captain. The preview code was unfortunately in German, but from what I saw, I can't wait to get more time with this one - in English next time.
Finally on the Nintendo front: Nintendo Land. Nintendo has always focused on family gaming, but the Wii U definitely takes it to a whole new level. In Luigi's Mansion, one person uses the GamePad to control the ghost - who does not appear on the TV screen - while four others on Wiimotes attempt to capture it. The person on the GamePad clearly has the advantage and it requires the others to strategise and work together. I probably could have stayed all day on the Wii U, but there was a lot to see so it was time to move on.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Halo 4 were clearly fan favourites with lines as far as the eye could see. I was surprised at how patient these gamers were, as the waiting time for Black Ops 2 was over an hour. Patience is a virtue that I didn't have, so Call of Duty and Halo 4 had to be missed. According to some excited fans that I spoke to, however, the wait was well worth it. Some were even coming back over the weekend for another go. Now that's dedication.
THQ showcased a gameplay video for Metro: Last Light, which looked amazing. There was no hands-on at the Expo, but the video was well worth watching. If you watched wrestling as a kid, or enjoyed it more in the past, WWE 13 was worth checking out. The attitude era brought back plenty of memories, and the game was great to play.
Ubisoft's Just Dance 4 was pumping as the Ubisoft Dancers enticed anyone and everyone to join them. The recurring songs of the day were Call Me Maybe, and some One Direction song that all the kids seem to be into these days - I didn't put my dancing shoes on, but I contend that it was in everyone's best interest.
The whole expo was a flurry of excited children, frustrated parents (can you blame them?) dedicated gamers, cosplay enthusiasts, games, games and more games - oh, and queues, how could I forget those? There was even a line to get into the EB Store.
There was so much to do and see that I just couldn't get around to it all. I got distracted with Hitman: Absolution because I was actually able to play without dying and restarting every five seconds, that I kept missing an opening to play Tomb Raider..
Every single publisher and exhibitor, and of course EB, should be proud of what they achieved this weekend. I'm sure plenty of consumers will be taking today off due to a gaming hangover.