rAge 2013 | Zombies vs. The Human Horde

IMG_0935

It’s hard to believe that just over a week ago rAge 2013 opened its doors to the masses. Oddly, the Friday appeared pretty darn quiet to these undead eyes. However, that didn’t stop the event from breaking its own attendance.

That record-breaker was 32,626 attendees which equated to “just under 13% more than in 2012!” Most of them appeared to there on the Saturday…

Now that the self-promotion is (almost) done with, what was there, and what actually appealed to those aforementioned undead eyes? Sadly, not as much as last year, even with the next-generation of consoles on limited display.

Day One (Friday 4 October)

First up for the Zombiegamer team was a Ster Kinekor media event which allowed a hands-on opportunity with PlayRoom, but more importantly a hands-on with the new DualShock 4. PlayRoom is what it is – a mildly entertaining playable tech demo that you will enjoy once and delete from your hard drive. Maybe. The first thing which impressed with the DualShock 4 was the size. It now fits like a glove in r0gue Zombie’s bear-sized hands. It also feels more solid than the toy-like DualShock 3. The touchpad is very responsive, and tossing little robots around in PlayRoom with it proved immediately pleasurable. The controller almost won the day. Almost.

Heading down to the floor (and bypassing the vast number of FIFA 14 stands), it appeared the petrol head in r0gue had him drawn to the Forza 5 hands-on demo available. It also meant an opportunity to handle the Xbox One controller. It. Is. Fantastic. A beautifully built and realised controller that fixes anything that was wrong with the Xbox 360 controller and adds haptic trigger feedback. You feel the car fight you in the corners, and had both of us gushing like excited teenage girls meeting Justin Bieber. At least… we imagine so.

We gave the Xbox One the first day win after that.

IMG_1240Flying solo for the remainder of the day, I headed to the main stage where SteelSeries’ Flemming Gyldenhammer was on hand to make the Global reveal of their new gaming mouse, the ‘Rival’. This was not before a sequence of call-and-shout “I say Steel, you say Series” moments, followed by “Here, have a mouse pad. Or a t-shirt. Or how about a towel?” moments. Free stuff -bringing people to rAge since 2002… The mouse is designed for emerging eSports markets and when it arrives in November 2013 in South Africa, it will cost a rather reasonable R699 (60 Euro). The optical mouse is “super hardcore for super hardcore gamers”. It’s actually rather nice and comfortable, but appears to favour “righties”.

As the day rolled into night and the vampires crawled out from their hidey-holes, it was time for a little party with the Apex Interactive crew. For the second year in a row, they were fantastic hosts. The around 100 attendees had enough pizza (70 tasty Col’cacchio variations) to ensure no-one left hungry (or even empty-handed by some accounts). There were bags of Rascals (sadly, we don’t mean the human kind) to enjoy, along with the ubiquitous drink (it’s a party after all) and giveaways, which were clearly rigged against the zombies…

Other Day One Highlights

  • Dark Souls 2: Still tough as nails and made me feel small and useless.
  • BT Games: Some phenomenal specials. But you’ve missed them now. Next year then?
  • Energy eSports: New sponsors for one of South Africa’s major clans were announced. Proline, AMD and IS Gaming have joined the MGO’s current sponsors, Monster Energy and SteelSeries.
  • Giveaways: The one part of rAge that will never disappear. If you want free stuff, this is the expo to attend.

Day Two (Saturday 5 October)

Feeling my skin melt from my bones at 10am in the morning is still a relatively new experience for a zombie. Dealing with Johannesburg traffic on a Saturday was also a brand new experience. Neither are enjoyable.

On the other hand, thousands of humans in a confined space should be the most appealing thing in zombie nirvana right? Wrong! When you’re trying to “blend in” the idea of literally rubbing shoulders with so many potentially diseased beings is a frightening prospect. So we took refuge in the media room. There was free ice-cream there. And interviews to be done.

No, no-one interviewed us. We’re not that important. And we aren’t apparently important enough to interview the Watch_Dogs developers that were in attendance or get into the ‘after-hours’ Xbox One event on the Friday. No. No sour grapes. Bu we will see you decision-makers first when the zombie apocalypse hits…

However, we did get to interview the approachable and immediately likeable Antoine Fortier-Auclair, who is the Ubisoft Montreal Realisation Director for Assassin’s Creed IV. You can read the interview here.

Keeping to the high ground in the venue, Razer was up next. Jan Horak was on hand to show off a number of current and upcoming Razer peripherals and hardware. Of particular interest was the new gaming laptops, with the Blade Pro making the Christmas wishlist, even with its eye watering price of $2,500. The other product that really caught the eye was the gaming tablet which Razer calls ‘Edge’. While it is heavier than traditional tablets, it is a supremely powerful piece of equipment which can find a home in your living room as your own micro-console via an HDMI output. It may still support a controller, meaning you really don’t need anything else to play your PC games on. It’s also not a cheap piece of kit and is priced at $1,000 for the standard version and $1,450 for the ‘Pro’ version. None are available in South Africa yet, but should be arriving soon. On display were numerous peripherals and it’s clear that Razer is a company who listens to the gamers they target.

Polishing off what amounted to the third of four ice-creams in the day to avoid overheating, Razer was followed by an interview with South African Battlefield player Stephanie Fouche. Our full interview with the Gioteck sponsored player will be up on Monday, but we suspect you will already have had your Battlefield 3 dog tags taken by her by then. So stay safe on the battlefield. And look everywhere. Especially behind you.

IMG_1057The last few hours at the Coca-Cola Dome were spent photographing the spectacular cosplay on display. Around 90 entrants strutted their stuff as Anime characters, comic book characters and gaming characters. The three Deadpool characters really played the part, and appeared to be crowd favourites. There were plenty of worthy winners, and a few that didn’t get the recognition of the being placed in the top three, but all were better than my feeble attempt to pass myself off as a human. For our pictures of the cosplay, head here.

Day Two was brought to a conclusion with another after-party hosted by Lazygamer at Hogshead. Yes, we are man enough to attend events by others. But we’re not man enough to eat a whole Habanero chilli. Others were. How they felt the day after is not confirmed at the time of going to “press”.

Day Three (Sunday 6 October)

This was the day for getting hands-on with every game possible. But you know what they say about the best laid plans right? Well, the zombie apocalypse hasn’t happened yet, despite many great plans.

Up first was a live gameplay demo of Watch_Dogs by the game’s developers Danny Belanger and Stephan Bernard Brousseau. The game really does look great, but there’s still a niggling feeling that it is GTA with a cellphone. You can really choose any approach to a mission however. Go in stealthy or with guns blazing. Use the environment to your advantage by hacking – as demoed – a forklift to get a higher vantage. The game may very well play brilliantly, but watching others play wasn’t quite the best way to convince me of the game.

I decided that all the car/racing games should be up next. DriveClub is a solid enough game but it’s really not as next-generation as it thinks it is. Even GT6 on the PS3 proved to be a more polished game. It’s pretty conceivable that DriveClub was an early build with more to come on release. Need for Speed Rivals is – for me – just the same as other recent games in the series. F1 2013 is the game for those that prefer their racing as real as a game allows you. I prefer to not make a complete fool of myself. The two games that really drew me in were The Crew and Forza 5. The Crew is an intriguing premise with the scale of the world, but it was Forza 5 that took it for me. It already looks so polished it was shiny like a very shiny thing.

Sneaking in to the Dead Rising 3 behind-closed-doors demo was a giant risk. The attendees seemed all too happy to see “more zombies than ever before” slaughtered with a variety of weapons, that had my cover been blown, it would’ve been all over for one of your favourite zombies (I am, aren’t I?). The game looks to have dropped anything about the previous titles you didn’t like (poor save options, repetitive missions, time limits and loading screens) and made it even more awesome. I am a fan OK? You can now make (combine) weapons on the fly. There are some spectacular (and gruesome) takedowns. You can combine vehicles to make a freaking awesome vehicle. And then there’s the massive bomb cleverly called… The Massive Bomb. The game is looking amazing, and plays well too. Or as well as around 166 seconds of playing allows one to experience.

IMG_0944By now the expo was starting to wind down, and it was really only the DGL winners left to be announced and awarded prizes (and there was a lot of prizes) for their successes over the weekend. We will be running a separate feature next week with the winner’s names, but the pictures can be viewed here.

Other Weekend Highlights

We couldn’t be everywhere all of the time over the rAge weekend, and we can’t cover everything, but there were a number of other activities and games we checked out:

  • Batman Arkham Origins: It’s like the other ones. If you enjoyed them (and we did) you will love this one. And we did.
  • Battlefield 4: It looks fantastic on the PC. Even though the code crashed the server almost every time the screen got covered in (virtual) blood splatter.
  • NAG Home_Coded and Make Games SA: It was great to see around ten local developers showing off their wares. We are a country filled with talented people.
  • NAG LAN: We are also a country filled with smelly people. Kidding. The NAG LAN was huge as always, and sleep and personal hygiene were once again optional.

IMG_1289

Of course, there will be some who have made it this far who are wondering why I feel rAge was not up to last year’s event. Simple. Games. Unlike last year, this year’s selection was a disappointment. Maybe we were spoilt last year with many quality titles having playable code months before the games were due to release. This year just felt like there weren’t, even with games on the new consoles. Maybe I’m just a jaded old zombies, or maybe the heat fried my brain. Either way, see you all next year?

Photos

You can see all our pictures from rAge 2013 in our Facebook Albums:

There are also a number of tattooed gamers snapped by Pricked in SA right here.