Adventures In FanExpoLand
Hey guys, on Aug. 27th, K. and I went to the Toronto FanExpo. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's a huge cult convention that combines gaming, sci-fi, horror and anime. Celebrities come to give autographs, and there's an arseload of collectibles you can buy.
My initial reason for going was to get Lance Henrikson's signature on my copy of Red Faction 2 (ironic because I'm actually doing a review for Mass Effect, another game he provided voicework for)...but that didn't happen. The reason was because...well, I couldn't afford to blow $40 on an autograph. So...I'll wait until I can.
Anyway, being that I was there, I figured I could actually look at the gaming side of things. Ubisoft and Warner Interactive both had booths. Warner had posters up for The Lord of the Rings: War in the North and playable demos of Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7 and Batman: Arkham City. Both looked fairly interesting, but I was honestly disappointed that there wasn't a demo of War in the North, too.
Ubisoft was showing off a playable demo of the new Assassin's Creed title, Just Dance 3 and a new game geared at what looks like training someone how to play a guitar. Pretty neat, actually. Unfortunately, I did not see a demo of the new Ghost Recon game, despite there being many posters littered about. However, I was really surprised that there wasn't demo material for Far Cry 3. Quite dismayed, actually. Especially considering that there was recently a new gameplay video on XBL. Hopefully it won't be a sleeper like Far Cry 2, which was an absolutely fantastic game.
There was also a Nintendo booth with 3DS's in full swing, although I wasn't able to actually see what was being played because it was basically the back of cube van, and of course, it was packed.
And finally, we come to the grand finale: The EB Games/Gamestop “booth”, which took up ¼ of the entire convention space. There were demos of Uncharted 3, the Halo CE remake and a new Disney game for the 360.
The whole event was sponsored by G4, Rogers (one of the three major media providers in Canada) and Gamestop, which is why an unnecessarily large portion of the floor was occupied by them. I hope that their presence is much more subdued next year. Gaming doesn't begin and end with those shills. It's not like they actually make the games they sell.
So, I thought the gaming section was pretty lacking. There were no local independent developers and neither EA Canada nor Bioware were present. And the only game-seller that could be considered “Canadian Content” was Zellers...oh wait, no, they're owned by Target.
I was also hoping to run into the guys from Reviews on the Run – they're one of the few pro reviewers I trust – but that didn't happen either. Oh well.
All and all, kinda neat – there were some pretty awesome costumes and the people were very nice. I'd like to thank John Waters on behalf of my girlfriend for being such a mensch and I'd like to thank the staff for being so helpful...even when they sent us in the wrong direction.
That said...gamers, unless the Reviews on the Run guys are there next year and/or you're a huge fan of everything else...you might want to avoid it until they get their priorities straight.
I'm still going to go next year. I didn't have enough time to play around with the gaming exhibits, so I'll definitely be doing that next time. I just hope that it's more than just Gamestop and their pets of the month because gaming is a lot more than Warner, Ubisoft, Disney and The Big Three (MS, Sony, Nintendo).