EB Expo 15 – Just Cause 3 & Homefront: The Revolution Preview
EB Expo 15 was my first time to any such event of this size, and despite hearing it was slightly down-scaled in terms panels and what was on display when compared to previous years, it was still a rather sizable affair in my eyes. After wandering the floor for a few minutes and finding my bearings, I set about playing a couple of games, and I’m going to tell you a little bit about them. They are Just Cause 3, and Homefront: The Revolution.
Just Cause 3’s demo was limited to a number of challenges, two of which I played through a number of times. The first I was given a rocket launcher with unlimited ammo and directed to bring down a couple of large radar antennae. Each rocket moved fairly slowly through the air, allowing me to experiment a little with what the newly upgraded grappling hook can do. Yes, it is possible to hook to the rocket. It’s also possible to hook other things to the rocket. Carnage ensues. It’s beautifully unscripted; exactly what I want from an explosive sandbox. Watching giant metallic structures – the kind that tower over a landscape – twist apart and fall to the ground is as exciting and jaw-dropping as you’d expect, as is wandering through the crumbled aftermath of your handiwork.
The other challenge involved navigating a base jump course, and showed off how the wing suit works as well as being a great excuse to check out a fair chunk of the 1000 square kilometre island of Medici. It is look absolutely glorious – the kind of view that is just begging for a photo mode – but I didn’t get to look too long as the wing suit, in full flight, is a bloody handful to keep under control. Not impossible by any means, but you’re gonna need a fairly steady hand and a few hours practice to guide yourself across the terrain with the kind of ease we’ve seen in some of the trailers.
Hidden away next to the large Street Fighter 5 setup, I found Homefront: The Revolution. Having established that I was one of the very few who actually enjoyed the original in some description, I was actually a little bit excited to see what this one had to offer. What I found instead was something that rather perfectly ties itself into the on-going drama that is Homefront’s troubled development. The game loaded into a rainy urban setting, with the player and a few other rag tag types getting prepared to take on a small convoy in the street below.
Things go south pretty quick, both onscreen and off. For starters, and I know this is only a pre-alpha build, but the frame rate was god awful. It chugged along like an old, arthritic cat dragging itself from a spot in the sun to its water bowl. Furthermore, the controls were so unresponsive that I had to wonder whether input lag was an issue or not, till I noticed that the controller was wired. It was taking the game a good half a second to register any kind of response to my inputs – not a good start.
After somehow bumbling my way out of the building to the street below, one of the AI told me to get into cover as the attack was about to begin. On the order, I leapt out from behind cover and let rip, which is when I discovered Homefront’s second glaring flaw, the combat. It felt terrible – like giving the same, old arthritic cat a high powered assault rifle with the trigger stuck on. In such a state, I have to question what value there was to showing Homefront on the floor when, from my view, it simply wasn’t ready for it. I stood around for a few minutes watching others try it, and my reaction was validated. Not one person had the controller in their hand for longer than a minute or two before leaving it be. Deep Silver seemingly need to pull something miraculous out of their bag for this one, but at least they have given themselves until 2016 to do so because it truly needs some extra love and care.
That’s not all I saw on the EB Expo show floor. I spent a little bit of time with StarFox Zero, which disappointingly looked more like a replica of Lylat Wars 64 with a better draw distance, rather than a modern re-imagining of an old classic. I also had a go on Logitech’s new force feedback racing wheel, the G920, which is a fairly solid bit of kit for the current generation of consoles, as well as for PC. You can hear a bit about those, and more on our special EB Expo themed podcast.
Were you at the EB Expo this year? I’d love to hear about what you thought about any of the games that were shown and what you’re looking forward to seeing more of in the comment below!
James Swinbanks is a Games Critic currently writing for GameSpot, although you’ll still occasionally see him popping up on Player 2, because frankly, he loves the smell of the place.