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GCA (Games Convention Asia) Coverage

Alright... Looks like GameSpot isn't doing the slightest bit of coverage with regards to the ongoing GCA (Games Convention Asia) in Singapore this year. For those of you in Singapore, admission is FREE and it's great - do spare the time during this weekend to go check out the various games they have out on show there. For those of you elsewhere... well, I've decided to do a little report on the event.

Also, I apologise for the poor image quality - the first time I'm using a camera... and the camera in this case is the one in my phone, which is a mealsy 2.0 megapixel one. :( Without further ado, let's begin on the GCA itself. This event, as I expected, is not as huge as other conventions like E3, GDC Lepzig, TGS and PAX. However, it still has a sizeable amount of exhibitors (slightly over 50 I believe), with some of the big names you'd expect, for example EA and Blizzard. Most of the other exhibitors were local and/or regional firms promoting their various games (there are a LOT of Southeast Asian MMOs around, like Maple Story and Audition). There're freebies (although not much in my opinion) which comprise mainly of posters and brochures, although Asiasoft provides discs of their already F2P MMO games as well. Be advised though that the queue for the latter gets ridiculously long - do go early if you do not wish to wait for an hour or more. Completion of some 'quests' in the convention also allows you to receive another goody bag from Razer. The first booth we saw was... the EA booth, and they had quite a number of titles to show including playable demos of The Sims 2 Bon Voyage, SimCity Societies, NBA Live 08, FIFA Online, FIFA 08, Need For Speed ProStreet and the surprise Crysis! :D   The EA booth  Playable X360 version of Mercs 2 World In Flames... It seems like the game is bugged? The player was moving extremely fast at times...   Demos of EA's FIFA and NBA games were around and popular. NHL and NFL are more or less unheard of, or unpopular at best here, thus their absence in the GCA (and usually in shops too). The EA guys were kind enough to provide us a 2 v 2 match against them in FIFA (a Korean build too apparently) and we won 3-2 using Manchester United. They chose Brazil.  Warhammer Online... To be honest the game was hard to get into - movement was only allowed via the WSAD and arrow keys and I couldn't even get my character to attack a hostile enemy. :( Maybe I should've checked some in-game help... but I was not really into the game anyway.   Say what are those two consoles? Seem familiar? :P Right, Nintendo was showing off their legacy consoles in addition to the Wii and various Wii games - however the Wii doesn't seem to be doing well locally. The DS Lite, however, remains the biggest seller (as a console) here...  Posters describing the various Nintendo consoles... (They even had posters of famous franchises like Mario, Donkey Kong and of course Link from the Legend of Zelda series)   Interestingly... my very own school (Nanyang Polytechnic) developed some game as well - a racing one to be exact. Sure the graphics weren't that good, but the sound effects, vibration and even smoke effects were great! (Yes you get actual smoke coming out from below the seat when you brake suddenly or drift.) My friends tried it - and it was fun alright, although handling was said to be rather difficult.    Tournaments... tournaments... and even more tournaments... Games from Quake 4, DOA, Counter-Strike: Source, DotA (a popular Warcraft 3 mod), PGR3 and more. Speaking of which, there was a contest for anyone to take on Singapore's top Quake 4 player in a deathmatch with winning conditions being 15 kills. Unfortunately only one person managed to kill him once the entire day - other than that he had 0 deaths - looks like no one's taking home the Razer Death Adder, Tarantula and Mantis prizes. :(  Playing Project Gotham Racing (PGR) 3 on the X360  The Quake 4 Contest described earlier. The pictured player is RocketBoy, or the person contestants are supposed to beat (just for 1 round) to claim the prizes.  Colin McRae DiRT - Doesn't look that impressive in real life I would say.    The Blizzard booth was interestingly empty although the area rented was considerably large. The only things on show were old TBC trailers and a couple of cosplayers (they were playing some elven mages I believe). This came as a surprise - I think I may have missed something here.   The Sony booth was the biggest in the convention - but also the least crowded. Most of the games shown are old releases such as Tekken 5. They have good deals on the PS2, PS3 and PSP though - S$799 for a PS3 and 1 game or S$865 for a PS3 and 2 games. There's also a couple of PS2 and PSP bundles with prices around S$250. Do visit this booth if you're interested in getting any of the Sony platforms.  Lair... Visually stunning... but, as many reviews have toted, extremely fustrating controls. The most I saw anyone last playing it was about 10 to 15 minutes - that should give you a clue on how bad that is.  AMD (yes don't ask me what the CPU manufacturer is doing in a gaming convention) had a booth too, tied together with Gigabyte showing off their latest products. The machines were running GRAW2 (or so I am led to believe). However, it is interesting to note that it seems they intentionally covered/removed hardware details on the various hardware components in their rigs (the cases were made of transparent plastic). Furthermore, there were playable demos of Guitar Hero II as well - guess they're trying to promote that game here (it's quite hard to find it, especially those sets which come with the guitar controller). Pity there wasn't any Guitar Hero III or Rock Band... :( Now what you've all been waiting for... Crysis! Lots of images - I got to play it for about an entire hour :P Oh - and the computers there were running it at 640 * 480 minimum (all low settings)... trying to turn on maximum settings would crash them in under 5 minutes. Despite the low settings, however, the game tended to crash often - EA employees were constantly having to attend to the 3 computers showcasing the game as the game would freeze unexpectedly every 30-45 minutes. It may be due to the hardware (oh and they were running it on Vista with DirectX 10) and I honestly hope that is the case.             The screen turns red when you get hit by enemies and your visions blurs slightly...   The graphics as expected, are of great quality (at low settings they're comparable to Half-Life 2's medium settings) and the enemies are intelligent. As other press releases have revealed, the game allows you to switch your suit to various uses for instance, armor and invisibility modes. The latter, however, uses up a great deal of suit energy and can't last even 10 seconds. I generally preferred to leave it to armor or in a few cases speed mode - the others were not that useful in the demonstration level. Last but not least - it is least advisable to play this game the 'charging in, guns ablazin' manner like you may do for a lot of shooters. It is almost inevitable that one of the enemy will call for a huge number of reinforcements - playing cautiously is rewarded in the game. Also, for Singaporeans, this game will be released on November 16 this year.  Last but not least, there're also stage performances and the usual presence of showgirls - most of them are tied to smaller local firms though, so don't expect anything of that sort from exhibitors like Sony, Electronic Arts and Blizzard - although the employees there are friendly and approachable too.
That pretty much sums up my experience today regarding the GCA - overall it's a rewarding experience and a great show especially being the first one in Asia (correct me on this one). :P Sure it is nowhere as large as events like TGS, but given the tight schedule of squeezing so many events in a few months and the rather abrupt announcement of this one - you will appreciate the essence that is gaming together with others yourself. :)