Be very, very goddamn wary. Don’t join a queue for food assuming the target material will be edible, because you can’t see what you’re lining up to buy until you’ve waited ten minutes to get near the head of the queue. By that point, you’ll be so hungry you won’t want to switch to another ten minute queue for something else.

TOTAL EXPO ROOKIE LOSER MISTAKE: Joining a food queue without checking out the food first.

Yeah, you can get some real pug-ugly food in an expo, the kind of nutritionally negative provisions that are churned out for maximum profit. Now I think about it, the word I was wretching reaching for was probably chunder not churn.

But I can go further.

PRO EXPO FOOD QUEUE TIP: The food queue in the Over 18 Only section is shorter.

Yes, there’s an extra-special Over 18 Only section. Doesn’t it look marvellous. It suggests sex, orgies and sex. And sex.

Except it’s not sex it’s crap like this:

The Over 18 section was full of shooting and gore, damn it.

Now I really loved Dead Space, but I wasn’t sure I was happy about Dead Space 2. The original was the hallowed “new IP” from a big publisher. The sequel can not carry that accolade. The first was great, but it exhausted itself, and the second needs to convince me it has lots of new stuff to offer; seeing it in action bears all the hallmarks of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. The only real change I’ve seen so far is flying around a bit.

I didn’t have a crack at Dead Space 2, instead I took the shortest demo footage in sneaky expo shakycam history.

I did, however, squeeze my cold-blooded hands around the neck of a controller for Mafia II. I’ve got Mafia, purchased after Rock Paper Shotgun told me it was the most important game I hadn’t played (aside from Pathologic that is). But I still haven’t played it (nor Pathologic). As reactions to Mafia II have been mixed it sounded like a good idea at the Expo to try it out, see how it played.

What I soon discovered, to my Over 18 Only horror, is that I have no experience playing 3D games with an Xbox controller. My left hand is permanently contorted into a gnarled claw that matches the WASD pattern on the keyboard and my right hand instinctively cups, anticipating contact with a smooth Logitech MX1000 mouse. So when Mafia II said I could pick a lock on a car, my bald character just stood there, looking like the worst 1940s carjacker I’d ever seen. Smashing the window was my chosen method of entry, which only required a single button press.

I drove off, shot a cop, was fired upon by other cops, drove off again and then crashed and died at high speed. I wasn’t particularly entertained.

But I realised playing a game outside the Indie Game Arcade meant I would look like someone who’s most recent gaming experience was Taito’s Space Invaders in 1978. It would be move over and make way for a real gamer gramps. YOUR DAYS ARE OVER OLD MAN. WAKEY WAKEY ITS TIME FOR YOUR MEDICINE.

THE PC GAMER EXPO PARADOX: A gaming CV full of PC expertise is useless when the only noun available is “gamepad”.

The Mafia II city was nice to look at though, which was not something I could say about Killzone 3. It was one of these new-fangled 3D 3D games, where it’s not just 3D but also 3D if you wear special peril-sensitive sunglasses. Being a spectator for a 3D 3D game without such sunglasses is awful as its like watching a badly tuned TV, a pasty world in imperfect duplicate.

After my scare with the controller on Mafia II, though, I was in no mood to play anything else – I just couldn’t see myself having any fun. So I did plenty of looking instead, and became the ultimate game voyeur, easily done because there were few titles I felt genuinely passionate for. Dragon Age 2? Not played Dragon Age the first, dear.

The biggest queue of all goes to Brink. RPS asked for readers to participate in a special pre-opening session but I’d got wind of this far too late. The Meerkat did not reply to my mail and I lost the chance to hook up with Brink. This is a shame as it’s likely the kind of game I will never play otherwise, since I’m not much into multiplayer for a variety of dull reasons. [Update 10 Oct – ZeniMax had YouTube take down this blurred 20 second footage of Brink; whatever, guys, really]

While I was in line for a presentation on Enslaved I was able to watch a couple of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood sessions which, I have to admit, looked like a lot of fun. Mrs. HM and I are big Thief fans and it was with much disappointment that the only aspect Assassin’s Creed shared with Thief was that they were both video games. Mowing down hordes of guards seemed to be required for AC, which didn’t seem particularly assassiny or stealthy to us. Brotherhood, however, is an entirely different game, a multiplayer stalkfest.

Even though I didn’t know the rules, even though I watched from afar and even though I couldn’t hear any sound… I was mesmerised. Multiple assassins picking off targets but also hunting each other, with urgent warnings flashing up whenever you were being pursued. RUN AWAY, the game said. HIDE, the game said. I don’t dig multiplayer and neither do I dig Assassin’s Creed but this… this gave me goosebumps.

But then it was time to sit down and chill in front of the Enslaved presentation. And I’ll get to that on the day after tomorrow, expressed in Japanese as asatte.

Next: Enslaved To The Rhythm

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