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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Games Convention Asia 2008: The Experience

Organized by the same people responsible for the Leipzig Games Convention held just this August, Games Convention Asia (GCA) provides gamers in the Asia Pacific region with one massive game show that they can finally call their own. GCA returns to the Suntec Exhibition and Convention Centre in Singapore for its 2nd year and I had the chance to immerse myself in the gaming goodness today.

This being the 2nd GCA, there was noticeably more participation – and I wouldn’t be surprised if the attendance at this year’s GCA surpasses 2007’s number of 70,000 public visitors. As always, EA had the utmost honor of having the biggest booth at the show, showcasing an impressive mix of both recently-released and unreleased titles.

Recently-released titles being showcased:
- Crysis Warhead (PC)
- The Sims 2 Apartment Life expansion pack (PC)
- Spore (PC)
- Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (PC)
- Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 (Xbox 360)
- FaceBreaker (Xbox 360)

Unreleased titles being showcased:
- Red Alert 3 (PC)
- My Sims (PC)
- FIFA Online 2 (PC)
- My Sims Kingdom (DS)
- Need for Speed Undercover (Xbox 360) [*image above ]
- Dead Space (Xbox 360)
- Lord of the Rings: Conquest (Xbox 360)
- NBA Live 09 (Xbox 360)
- Mirror’s Edge (PS3)
- FIFA 09 (PS3)

Besides EA, Maxsoft also made its presence felt with the 2nd biggest booth at the show. Several Wii and DS stations were set up for the public to try out both released and unreleased titles.

Released titles being showcased:
- Wii Sports (Wii)
- Wii Fit (Wii)
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (Wii, DS)
- Guitar Hero: Aerosmith (Wii)
- SNK Arcade Classics: Volume 1 (Wii)
- From the Abyss (DS)
- Bangai-O Spirits (DS)
- Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (DS)
- Kung Fu Panda (DS)

Unreleased titles being showcased:
- Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party (Wii)
- Dokapon Kingdom (Wii)
- FaceBreaker K.O. Party (Wii)
- High School Musical 3: Senior Year (Wii)
- Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood (DS)
- Disgaea DS (DS)
- Kirby Super Star Ultra (DS)

In addition, there’s also Replay Interactive, which represented both Koei and THQ at the show. Titles being showcased include Wall-E, Big Beach Sports, Lock’s Quest, Dynasty Warriors 6 and Saints Row 2. Games from New Era Interactive, which imports Ubisoft titles into South East Asia, as well as Soul Calibur 4 (PS3) and a host of new MMORPGs make up the list of playable games at the show. To sum up, there’s a great deal of games to be enjoyed at this year’s show.

The fantastic showing of games is one thing, but the exhibitors at this year’s show is another. More noteworthy is the focus of this year’s show, which seems to have adopted a less-casual approach in comparison to 2007’s. The absence of the made-for-the-casual-gamers mobile phone games and MapleStory, which were present at 2007’s show, demonstrates the shifting focus of the GCA.

Meanwhile, I had the opportunity to try out Need for Speed Undercover for the Xbox 360. Need for Speed Undercover marks the return of the spectacular cop chases last seen in Need for Speed Most Wanted (nope, the ‘cop element’ in NFS Carbon was subdued, so that doesn’t count), while at the same time, seems to have borrowed from Carbon as the overall presentation of the maps is very much like the aforementioned. Unfortunately, the game proved more of an annoyance than enjoyment during my hands-on session with it. Framerates were unstable throughout, but the developers should have enough time from now till the game’s release in November to do the necessary polishing.

I also managed to have a go at FaceBreaker K.O. Party for the Wii [* image above]. However, like my hands-on session with Need for Speed Undercover, my time with this game didn’t come off too well. FaceBreaker K.O. Party seems to fail to utilize any of the creativity and innovation that the Wii controls promise as moves were relegated to holding the C button on the nunchuck and hitting the corresponding directional button on the d-pad. I would like to have motion controls, please. The game could also use more polish in the graphics department.

All in all, this year’s GCA was a great success, though there are still rooms for improvement. The floorspace could have been better utilized to accommodate more exhibitors and more new games could have been introduced. But the fact that this year’s GCA adopted a less-casual approach (phasing out mobile phone games in exchange for more hardcore titles) is assurance that next year’s GCA will be packed with even hotter titles. I have high hopes for GCA 2009.


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