And so it came to pass that, during one of his rare forays into the land of Facebook, the ageing gamer didst apply for tickets in the hope of attending an intimate affair in yonder Bristol. Yay, he was successful in smiting the filthy beast of fate and the treasure was his…
Meaning that I had a day pass from the wife and kids to go along to one of the Playstation Access events in Bristol. I cunningly applied for the Saturday afternoon session rather than Friday night or Saturday night thereby avoiding a performance from guest artiste Mr Lethal Bizzle. (‘Call that music? It’s just noise, etc…’)
On arriving with my little gaming friend, we were slightly alarmed to find that we were the only ones over 16 and who didn’t look like skater boys…until we found out that the warehouse right next to the Access venue was an indoor skating park. Phew! Walking along a little further we were comforted by the site of other men who lacked the ability for a smooth shave but who offset it by wearing a themed t-shirt containing Star Wars or some mildy amusing pun or observation. Now we felt we belonged!
There were even a couple of ladies attending, including one who was dressed in full MGS attire with some impressive weaponry. (Which definitely affected the impact of those wearing the t-shirts with the mildly amusing puns and observations).
Following a brief and ‘before opening time’ crowd surge (can you call a gang of 5 lads a crowd?) we were allowed in. The nightclub venue was pumping out some choice tunes (don’t know whose choice though, call that music, it’s just noise, etc) and mild panic initially set in. On seeing collections of settees, flat screens and ps3 controllers everyone relaxed at the site of their natural habitats. The only thing missing were the 2 litre bottles of coke and nibbles.
I am embarrassed to say that, despite some new games on offer, my friend and I started with the demo of FIFA 12. I mean, not only has the demo been out for weeks, but we both bought the full game the day before! However, a match needed to be played and you try getting him online, the evasive beggar…
The darkness of the club hid my fury at leaking a 90th minute goal as we traversed the dance floor to indulge in a bit of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations multiplayer. 5 PS3s were linked up and competitions were being run all afternoon with t-shirts offered to anyone who could kill more people than anyone else. Again, this had been available on the network for a while but actually playing back to back with four others in the same space, hearing the ‘oohs’, the ‘aahs’ and the ‘you bugger!’ always seems much more fun to me. I like online gaming, but it always feels more sterile sat in your home alone, bring back more local multiplayer!
Fresh from his football success, my friend bagged a t-shirt and on he went again, rather foolishly, to Dark Souls. ‘This is where he comes unstuck, mwuh-hah hah’ I thought childishly as he was battered by a furious skeleton with a big stick. Smirking privileges were quickly passed to him, however, as minutes later I became big, spiky pig food. This game is seriously hard, but I am going to get it. That pig is sausage meat!
A much lighter game was needed next so, once our complimenatry drink tokens were exchanged for beers, we donned our metaphorical co-op hats and dived into Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One. Ahh, that’s better, bright lights, silly dialogue, kill lots of cute robots just by mashing the square button… Yawn…
‘Excuse me lads? Have you played the Uncharted 3 multiplayer yet?’ came a bright, chirpy voice from behind. Not yet, we thought, but we’d played the beta at home so… ‘Ah, but have you played it in OUR room?’ Three minutes later we were walking into an enclosed area containing a plethora of plastic foliage and an over eager smoke machine. ‘Has the… *cough*… game… started… *splutter*… yet?’ I asked. ‘Yeah but we’ve been playing in some of the empty slots so just go there and swap with my colleagues’, he replied. ‘Uh… *cough*… where… exactly?’ I enquired, groping through a discounted version of the Amazon rainforest.
By channelling our senses we used our enhanced powers of hearing and made our way around the cluster of TVs to take our positions. ‘Well, at least we’re close enough to the telly so I can see what I’m doing in the game even if I can’t see who I’m playing with’ I thought, moments before the sandstorm powerplay kicked in on the deathmatch we were playing, and the screen was full of virtual dust and sand. I’m sure everyone who wanted to has played the multiplayer by now but, if you haven’t, I can happily announce that it’s a fab addition to what will be an undoubtedly fab campaign.
Back into the main room to try out Tekken Tag Prologue, Battlefield 3 and Goldeneye 007 single players and even a quick go on Resistance 3 with the full gun PS Move attachment. Loved the lock and load feature on the peripheral but the whole Move/Kinect experience for me is still feeling too clunky.
The biggest ‘exclusive’ of the session, due to the lack of PSVita (shame!) was the appearance of the much mooted 3D headsets. Set up to run a bit of a Spiderman film, attendees had the chance to don the headsets and feel like Geordi La Forge. How was it? Ok but I was far from overwhelmed. 3D works well, but screen just feels like a small one that you’re closer to rather than giving the impression that you’d be playing your games on a cinema screen. Front bit was heavy too so I imagine you’d get that annoying mark on your nose after prolonged play…
So in conclusion. Not sure what Sony get out of this. There can’t have been more than 40 guests invited (all who were very aware of the games to start with), at least 20 ‘bright, young things’ running the session, the club can’t have come cheap and we even got a free beer, Uncharted 3 t-shirt and chimera sackboy keyring! Being one of the later Access dates, a lot of the games on offer had come out as betas, demos and even full releases by the start of October, but it was, and always will be, great fun joining other gamers in a big room with lots of games to chill out to. Despite what the Daily Mail will have you believe, gaming IS social. These events are not essential but they are a bit of fun and at no cost. Well worth going along to one and I’m sure if you go onto the Access page on facebook there are still events left to run this year.
Time was all too soon up. We grabbed our goody bags, tore off our wristbands (causing the inevitable skin lacerations – what DO they make that adhesive out of?) and headed for the train back to Wales. The short walk back to Temple Meads gave us just enough time to regain the use of our eyes having been temporarily blinded by the sun (that’ll teach me to lurk around a dark nightclub for the best part of an afternoon).