As I finally arrived at rAge 2015, I was shocked at how many people had been waiting in line since the early morning, it’s then that I knew my first ever rAge experience was going to be an awesome one.
As it was my first ever rAge, I had made a list of things I would like to see and do. The main reason for this was that I, unfortunately, only had a limited time frame in which to experience the expo.
First on the list was the Xbox stand. I was fortunate enough to be invited to view some of their up-and-coming titles as well as the new Xbox Elite controller before the masses descended on us.
One game I couldn’t wait to get my hands on was Cuphead. I have seen and heard a lot about the game and couldn’t wait to see if it played as well as it looked.
Cuphead is a run-and-gun platformer inspired by cartoons from the 1930’s, and to say that this game looks gorgeous is an understatement. Not only does the hand drawn and inked visuals look stunning, the animation is a smooth as butter, which it needs to be in order to defeat the myriad of bosses that the game pits you against. Cuphead heavily focuses on boss battles and these are extremely hard and punishing (in a good way), these bosses can only be beaten by precise timing and fast reflexes. Luckily, Mugman is able to join Cuphead in local co-op which does make things a little easier.
I also have to mention the great 1930’s Jazz soundtrack that really makes the game feel like something special. I was greatly impressed with Cuphead and can’t wait for it to launch.
After the quick paced battles of Cuphead, I decided to get all nostalgic and play the soon to be released Transformers: Devastation. The game is a third-person action brawler developed by Platinum games, and as with all good Platinum developed games the fighting is fast paced and quite deep. I found it really satisfying combining vehicle attacks with the normal robot mode attacks in order to string together some good looking combos.
Speaking of good looking, Transformers: Devastation is yet another good looking game; this is mostly due to its cell shaded visuals, the game looks like it was ripped straight out of the G1 Transformers TV show of the 80s. Even though combat is fun and exiting, I am a bit worried that the enemies might become a bit repetitive, having said this I had a memorable battle against Devastator that I won’t soon forget. Overall, the game oozes nostalgia and there where moments when it truly felt like I was a kid in the 80’s again watching the TV show.
The last game I had a chance to play at the Xbox stand was Rise of The Tomb Raider. The Tomb Raider Reboot was one of my favourite games of 2013. The question was whether its sequel lives up to the standards set by its predecessor. Well, I’m glad to report that based on what I played (and saw) at the Xbox stand, Rise of the Tomb Raider is more of the same (in a good way), in a new shiny package. I found the game to have the same great platforming sections, combined with some smart environmental puzzles, as well as the reflex testing quick time events that its predecessor had. The game also looks stunning and this makes exploring the world just that more tempting.
Before I left the Xbox stand I had the chance to check out the new Elite controller. Not only does it look and feel great, but each tiny aspect of the controller is customizable. Each component can be swapped, like for instance the D-pad which can be swapped out for a circular pad or the standard one. Buttons can also be individually re-mapped to suit the specific player’s needs. Initially I didn’t think that the Elite controller would be worth its hefty price tag, but after physically handling it I actually think that it is worth the investment for those who are serious about their gaming.
As the gates were opened to the public I made my way across to the PS4 stand, this was mainly because I was dying to get some hands on time with the much anticipated Star Wars Battlefront. I had high expectations for the game, and was really happy to see that the game was shaping up to be what I had hoped it would.
I played what can be described as a sort of horde mode, where myself and co-op partner had to protect certain points from waves of incoming Imperial forces. We played local split screen co-op, which I am delighted is a feature in Battlefront as I love playing games local co-op. Before the match got started we each had to choose our weapons and one of three load outs. Each load out corresponds to a specific play style. Once I chose my blaster as well as a personal shield generator and a jetpack I was ready to stop the Imperial forces. As with most new gen games Battlefront looks amazing, every detail felt as though it was pulled straight from a Star Wars movie. After fighting a few waves of you run of the mill Stormtroopers we where greeted by an AT-ST which after the initial shock of seeing it, we took down surprisingly quickly. After making a fatal mistake by splitting up, my co-op partner and I were defeated. If what I played at rAge is any indication, Star Wars Battlefront will be a great and fun experience.
When my heart beat stabilized after the excitement of finally playing Battlefront, I opted to give the new Marvel Lego Avengers game a go. I have always secretly loved the Lego Marvel and DC games and was curious to see if the Avengers game would differ from the Lego Marvel Super Heroes game that preceded it. From what I played (I had access to Thor, Black Widow, Captain America and Hawkeye) the game still felt very similar to Lego Marvel Heroes, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing (especially if you liked Lego Marvel Super Heroes). The main difference is that Lego Avengers tends to use the Marvel movie universe for its inspiration rather than the comics. I did have fun with the game and hope to see how it turns out when it releases.
The last game I had a chance to look at was the new Assassins Creed Syndicate game, which seemed to be a much more fun game than Unity. Not only does the 1868 London setting feel unique and interesting, but the game also features a few new mechanics which could help the game stand out in the sea of Assassins Creed titles. Firstly players can play as one of two siblings, the stealthy Evie Frye or the brutal (I get things done with my fists) Jacob Frye. Both have different playstyles and players can switch between them at will (except for some main story missions). A new item available for the main protagonists to use is the rope launcher that makes getting around London a lot easier considering that the streets now have to be wider in order to accommodate the carriages that players can “borrow” during the game. Jip that’s right, Assassins Creed Syndicate has added a touch of Grand Theft Auto, as players are now able to commandeer carriages to chase down or escape enemies. I am actually more exited than I originally was after seeing Assassins Creed Syndicate in action. Hopefully I won’t be disappointed.
What I saw at rAge made me exited for what lay ahead for gaming in 2016. Unfortunately, my time was running out and I didn’t even get to play most of the games on my rAge 2015 to do list. There was still Call of Duty Black Ops 3 with its new 4 player co-op campaign and enhanced movement mechanics, Just Cause 3 which I must say looks exiting, beautiful and exhilarating at the same time, The Division which I was dying to get my hands on (Damn you, long rAge queues), and so much more.
One thing I noticed at rAge 215 that surprised me as I made my final rounds past the stands, was how much rAge has become less of an exclusive gaming and tech expo, and more of an expo that celebrates everything geek, tech and gaming related. I saw young people, old people, families and friends all enjoying the many things that rAge had to offer. I even discovered a large board gaming area that had groups of people playing board games throughout the day.
rAge 2015 has something for every one, there were Virtual reality stands (which made me a little nauseas after trying it), plushies and action figures, hardware and software and of course rows and rows of delicious food stands. I even saw some of the best cosplay in recent memory. I was disappointed when I had to leave rAge 2015, as I had had huge amounts of fun and had met some really great people, and at the end isn’t that what rage is about, meeting new people and having fun.
I will definitely return to rAge again as I had the time of my life and had experiences that I will not soon forget. For those that have not yet experienced a rAge, I would urge you to give it a go; you might just be surprised at how enjoyable the experience is. For those in Cape Town that might be feeling out, you need not anymore. There will be a rAge expo in Cape Town next year.