i35: Mark Tilbrook Interview by Anthony Barlow
November 5, 2008, 12:25 pm
Filed under: Event Coverage, Interviews | Tags: , , , , , ,

[By Anthony]

Ok, on the exhibition side of things i35 was a bit hit and miss. That dosen’t mean nothing good came out of it, in fact there’s tons of great stuff. Not all of it content specific but good nontheless. I caught up with Multiplay’s, Online Editor and go to guy for all things press related, Mark Tilbrook to talk about Multiplay’s events, i36 and, well, games. Hit the jump for the interview. Continue reading

Event Report: i35 by Anthony Barlow
November 3, 2008, 1:51 pm
Filed under: Event Coverage | Tags: , , ,

[By Anthony]

Event: i35

Location: Stoneleigh Park, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire


Regular readers will know that I went down to Warwickshire yesterday to check out i35, an event set up by Multiplay (www.multiplay.co.uk). I visited their previous event, M Festival, back in August and I was more than impressed. M Festival gave the blog a boost in credibiliy and many of the things you see on here today are thanks to the faith Multiplay showed in us, by allowing XeNonX to cover the event.

I was invited back to Stoneleigh for i35 at the end of M Festival and I gladly accepted. A bit of research lead me to the conclusion that, although it would not be as exhibition centric as M Festival, it would still be a good event to cover. Sadly it didn’t live up to my expectations. Hit the jump for more. Continue reading

Impressions: Mercenaries 2: World In Flames by Anthony Barlow
August 18, 2008, 4:50 pm
Filed under: Event Coverage, Impressions | Tags: , , , ,

Yes it is a bit late, but the fact is I lost my notes. I know, organised right? Well with that out of the way i’m gonna drop some Mercs 2 impressions.This game was one of my most anticipated games of the year and I really hoped it would live up to my expectations. Hit the jump to see what I thought. Continue reading

The Details From My Interview With EA’s Greg Baker – More FIFA 09 by Anthony Barlow
August 15, 2008, 12:24 am
Filed under: Event Coverage, Gaming News | Tags: , , ,

Well like I said I didn’t have any recording equiptment so I couldn’t transcribe the interview with Greg from EA, but I did make some notes so that’ll have to do.

Well the first thing I asked him about was this years cover stars (which by the way have not yet been revealed) he actually yold me who they were, which came as a surprise. As I expected Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney and AC Milan’s Ronaldiniho are once again gracing the game’s cover. I kind of expected it but it still comes as a surprise.

I then moved on to animations, something which Greg seemed really well informed about. He talked about how the guys in Canada used stuntment to perform some of the animations for tackles and players falling to the ground. From what i’ve seen they look really good and definityely add to the realistic feel the game is trying to put accross.

Now you might have seen that I have put some of the United squad’s overall ratings in my impressions post. I was talking with Greg about some of the ratings and ‘missing’ players. He told me that the build was not the latest build and that many of the ratings and squads would be refined and updated before the game comes out. He also mentioned that all of the summer transfers would be making it into the game for the October 4th ship date so there’ll be no squad updates at launch.

One of the best (and at times worst) features of FIFA 08 was the ‘Be A Pro’ game mode. I really liked the way it worked in the last game and I was told that now EA have expanded the mode to support 10 players on each team. That means there’ll be 20 PS3’s synching up at one time to play these macthes, which I assumed would cause problems. This is apparently not the case, Greg said that when this mode was being tested they (EA) were worried that it wouldn’t work and also that players would not stick to their assigned roles. Once again, this wasn’t the case and Greg said that he was pleasantly surprised how disiplined the players were and that they stuck to their assigned roles well and most of the matches players functioned as a team should. Another interesting new addition to the ‘be a pro’ game modes is that players will now be able to play 4 seasons as an individual player in the new ‘be a pro seasons’ mode. This sounds like it would be similar to Madden’s ‘superstar mode’ and hopefully it will expand to be as big as the manager mode (15 years, i think).

One of the nice new things revealed was that players will have the ability to set what their ‘arena’ would look like. Greg mentioned that players would be able to have themed arenas e.g. a Mexican one. This sounds like an unimportant, but cool feature that allows players to personalize their game, which is nice I guess.

I asked Greg about the improvement of the game over the past few years and he commented on how PES and FIFA have ‘changed roles’ if you like, with EA’s game becoming more of a sim and PES becoming more arcadey. Greg said that this was a change that was very much liked by fans and also made people switch to FIFA from Pro Evo. He talked about the changes in 09 and said that the team had made 250 new changes to the game, how many of these will be significant is somewhat yet to be seen but they seem to be working well.

The last thing I talked about was the PS3 exclusive feature of FIFA 09, something which Greg would not divulge no matter how much I asked. I did ask if it was perhaps a ‘jumpers for goalposts’ mode within ‘Home’. He thought it would be a nice idea but also said that this was not the exclusive feature. he went on to say that we should hear something out of Leipzig about said exclusive.

Well that about raps it up. It is a shame that I couldn’t get a transcription of the interview but you still got all of the info from it in a more concise form. It’ll be cool to see what the exclusive feature is and it’s nice to see that the team are working hard on making this the best footy game out there and from what i’ve played it definitely looks like it could be.

Preview: FIFA 09 by Anthony Barlow
August 14, 2008, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Event Coverage, Previews | Tags: , ,

[By Anthony]

So here’s the first of the M Festival goodness and we’re kicking off with FIFA 09. Surprisingly this is one of my most anticipated games of the year when you guys play it I think you’ll see why. It might not get the big launch party that Madden gets in the U.S. but it has to be EA Sports’ finest title. FIFA has improved imensely  over the past few years and this latest game looks like it could be the jewel in EA’s relinquished footy crown.

The graphics have always been EA’s strong point and this game doesn’t disapoint. The build I played was six weeks old and I was told that the latest build of the game would be at Leipzig next week. Hopefully i’ll be able to bring you guys some HD footage. Anyway, back to the graphics. As A Manchester United fan I was really impressed with the attention to detail that EA have put into the star players. I have wondered in the past if the team had looked at the players when creating their models but now everything seems in order Tevez looks like Tevez (he even has his scar) Ronaldo looks like Ronaldo (and acts like him too) and from what I saw all of the star players seem to have the right looks and traits to make the game even more realistic.

Speaking of realism, the passing definitely seems more fluent especially with manual settings turned on. The animations for passing, crossing and shooting have all been updated with many of the animations being contextual. For example players will rush passes and crosses when they’re under pressure from the opposition which usually results in a bad pass and missed opportunities. It’s another big step forward for the EA sports footy franchise(s). The animations always get a lift with each iteration of the game, some of the old ones being updated as well as some new additions. I did see that they’d worked on the annimation for finesse shooting which now does not just allow players to place shots directly in front of them but also in either corner of the net in a style similar to Barcelona’s Thierry Henry. When playing against Tottenham the biggest new shot animation I noticed was the over-head kick. You could do scissor kick’s in previous FIFA games but this is the first game to incorporate the full OHK since EA’s ‘UEFA Euro 2004’. Another annimation change can be seen when players are moving on the pitch. In Euro 2008 the running and jogging animations are well done but seemed a little over the top. FIFA 09 changes these animations making them seem more realistic. I also seemed to notice that some players ran differently to others, maybe this was just my mind playing tricks but it’d be cool if it was in there.

EA added the ‘arena’ feature to their ‘next-gen’ versions of the FIFA series and I think it was a great addition to the game, letting you hone your skills before the match. The arena is another of the great features from 08 EA has adapted. The arena I played in was in a more urban setting rather than the generic paractice pitch from 08 but according to Greg the arena can now be changed by the user who will be able to sort of skin the arena with certain themes (a Mexican one was mentioned). Another new feature of the arena is that before the match a player will be chosen at random to use from the team you are playing as and when the match has loaded the arena switches to the pitch you are playing on in that particular game (i.e. Old Trafford). I think this is a nice feature as broadcasts often show players doing pre-match warmups on the pitch before the game kicks-off. Plus it helps pass the loading time (which wasn’t too long).

There has also been a slight change to the HUD during matches. The HUD is larger but is transparent and carries the players name and stamina bar (as usual) as well as that players number to the left of it. It might not be a massive change but I thought i’d make a note of it nonetheless.

Skills have become a big part of EA’s football games and in 09 that doesn’t change. Skills are still a big part of the game but I did think it was a bit unrealistic that Gary Neville could pull off step overs and 360 turns as well and as easily as Cristiano Ronaldo. This has changed, it seems EA have adaped the ease and speed of skills depending on which player you are. So now it’s a lot easier to pull of tricks with Ronaldo and Neville, well he’ll struggle.

Greg also mentioned that the players height and weight had now been taken into account. Players will no longer be able to push over John Carew with Shaun Wright Phillips and this is definitely something that works well in conjunction with the new jostling feature added into the game. The jostling feature allows players to have players fight for the ball and can often lead to free kicks. The height and weight have also been factored in to this too so a player like Evra will find it hard to take down larger opposition but with a bit of persistence you can pull it off. This also means that your star player is less likely to be dominated by a much lower rated player.

The ‘superhuman goalkeeper’ is something that has plagued almost every iteration of the FIFA franchise and is obviously something that had to be dealt with. From what I played it seemed like the keepers were still good and made it hard on the player, but they were doing a lot more parrying rather than catching 30 yard screamers. Another great realistic feature added to the game and one of the best changes I saw the whole time I was playing. Now maybe it was the new gameplay changes, but despite the keepers no longer being similar to Superman it was harder to score. Hopefully this will help make matches closer and once again more realistic.

My last point I noted from my demo were the little things that impressed me about the game. First of all, I noticed that the referee and linesman were now featured on the picth rather than being ghosts who’d only show up to make decisions and appear in cinematics. A nice little touch there. Secondly, I noticed that players would be putting their arms out and calling for the ball if you were running down the wing and also that defenders would raise their arm and try and signal for an offside to the referee. It might not be something that the casual FIFA fan will notice but is another nice touch from EA.

Well there’s my first impressions on FIFA 09. I played the game a number of times at the show in order to get a feel for the game, another reason that this ‘preview’ is so long. It looks like EA have tried (and in my opinion) succeeded to make this game a more realistic approach and tried to make FIFA a game that can be played by fanatics like myself and the casual audience too. We’ll have to see how this pans out but I can definitely see this topping PES for the third year running.

For all you Manchester United fans, I made sure to check the squad screen for any updates I could find and there were a few there. I also noted down some of the ratings of star players.

  • Carlos Tevez – 85
  • Cristiano Ronaldo – 91
  • Wayne Rooney – 87
  • Anderson – 82
  • Nani – 81
  • Fraizer Campbell – 71
  • Danny Wellbeck (NEW) – 65
  • Rodrigo Possebon (NEW) – 69
  • Fabian Brandy (NEW) – 63

So there’s three new additions to the United squad I could find but according to Greg the squads are not finalised so there could be some new additions to the squad (Rafael & Fabio Da Silva maybe?). The ratings of players could also change so we could see some of the players getting higher overalls than i’ve posted here. Players like Rooney and Tevez have seen improvements (I think) but players like Nani could do with a bit of a bump in ratings. Hopefully we’ll see this soon.

I’ll also be writing up my findings from my interview with EA’s Greg Baker. There’s a few scoops to be seen so you’ve gotta check it out.

Oh yeah guys, sorry for this being another day late but i’ve had a lot to do over the past few days and it’s been hard to get this finished but now it’s done.

M Festival Content by Anthony Barlow
August 13, 2008, 12:01 am
Filed under: Event Coverage | Tags: , , , , ,

Just to let you know, the impressions from M Festival will be up tomorrow instead of today. I’ve been busy and have not been able to finish writing up my impressions yet anyway. I thought, rather than rush it i’d make sure I got everything important in there and make sure it’s well polished.

The games i’ve got impressions on are:

  • FIFA 09
  • Mercenaries 2: World In Flames
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09
  • Spore: Creature Creator

So there’s a bit of stuff going up tomorrow. I only managed to get time with the creature creating side of Spore (shame) but i can hopefully gibe you guys a bit on an insight. Just to let you know, FIFA is the game I had the longest time with and to be honest it was my main priority to get as much coverage on that as I could. There are details from an interview with EA’s Greg Baker. I would’ve transcribed the interview but I couldn’t get my hands on a dictaphone (should’ve phoned Shaun) but the info is there either way.

M Festival 2008 – Closing Thoughts by Anthony Barlow
August 11, 2008, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Event Coverage | Tags: , ,

Thought I might just add some closing comments about today’s event. I thought that the event was great and helped me gain some valuable experience as well as helped me promote the site more to a wider audience. Plus I got some hands on time with FIFA 09 sweet!

I’d like to extend a thankyou to all of the event organisers and exhibitors. Especially Mark Tillbrook who gave me the chance to cover my first event and Greg Baker who let me interview him about FIFA 09 (details tomorrow).

I am going back for the next Multiplay event in October and hopefully it’ll be bigger and better than this one.

Remember, all of the impressions from the show will be going up tomorrow as well as the 1st of the competitions so until then, cya.

Still @ M Festival by Anthony Barlow
August 11, 2008, 1:41 pm
Filed under: Event Coverage | Tags: , ,

Just checking in and providing a little update. The show is slowly coming to an end and everyone is packing up and leaving. It might sound like it’s a bit dismal but in fact, it’s the complete opposite. Everyone is getting rid of stuff they don’t need, which means i’ve got more swag to give away. Some of it is pretty cheap and useless but some of the stuff is competition worthy.

Of couse i’ll be keeping a percentage of the stuff i’ve collected but the majority is gonna be available to you guys. I said before that i’d be running a series of competitions and I will, they will be starting tomorrow and running until next Tuesday so there’s plenty of time to enter.

Overall the show’s been great. There’s tons to do and see here and was well worth the drive down. One thing I will say though is, if you’re only here to see games and not compete in the gaming events you’ll easily get round in one day. I also suggest that you try and get there on day one to get the most freebies.

This is my last update from the festival but my coverage will be going up over the next few days. I’ve got my impressions on FIFA 09, Mercenaries 2, Spore (what? a PC game) and Tiger Woods 09 as well as a photo gallery which should be going up over the next few days.

I’m At M Festival by Anthony Barlow
August 11, 2008, 1:33 pm
Filed under: Event Coverage | Tags: , ,

This is me reporting live from M Festival. I’m currently sat up in the press gallery enjoying the ‘hospitality’ and thought i’d just send a hello from the event.

I have had my long awaited hands-on with FIFA 09 and spoke to one of the guys at EA about the game. Greg…something his name was. I’ll get the details later.

I’ve still got one hell of a show to cover. I’ll be getting my hands on with EA’s ‘Mercenaries 2: World In Flames’ and ‘Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2009’. I’ll also be bringing you the rest of the stuff that’s at the show and commenting accordingly.

As for swag. I’ve got a ton and yes it’ll be given away to lucky readers in a series of competitions.

Well, thats bye from me (for now) but i’ll be back later with some more updates, some images from the show and hopefully some more swag.


M Festival Tomorrow by Anthony Barlow
August 10, 2008, 5:00 pm
Filed under: Event Coverage | Tags: , ,

I will finally be at M Festival tomorrow and will get my hands on with some of the biggest games coming out over the next couple of months (most of them from EA). I know that i’ll be getting my hands on with all of the EA console titles and obviously there might be a few surprises.

Ubisoft and Codemasters have also had (or are having) presentations at the event so I suspect I might get some time with some of their big titles too.

Not only that I am going to deliver on my promise of getting an interview with the guys behind the FIFA games.

It should be a good day tomorrow and hopefully this won’t be XeNonX’s first forray into gaming events. I will try and keeep you posted throughout the day with impressions and such but if I can’t there’ll be one big update towards the end of the day.

M Festival Has Started! – I’m Not There :( (Yet) by Anthony Barlow
August 9, 2008, 1:08 am
Filed under: Event Coverage | Tags: , , ,

So XeNonX’s 1st games convention/event thingy, M Festival, kicked off today and guess what i’m not there :(. Yes I said I was gonna be there and I am, but not just yet. Due to accomodation problems it looks like i’ll probably have to wait until the last day of the show to attend (I don’t have the money to travel between Manchester and Warwickshire twice a day). Yeah, it sucks but on the bright side it’s on a Monday which’ll probably mean less daft kids wandering the halls with parents because they’re all at work. Making it an easier job for me.

I’ll still get to see all of the games on show, it just means i’ll miss the opening, probably Gemma Atkinson (she’s opening the event) and possibly some of the main stage events. Never mind eh, it was never gonna run smoothly, was it. Monday should still give me some valuable experience and hopefully a little more time to talk to some industry peeps (I’m on a mission to get a hold of the FIFA guys and ask them ‘really important’ questions).

Other than that everything is still going to plan. I’m gonna be there doing whatever I need to do (playing FIFA 09 multiple times) and covering it all for you guys my valuable readers. I’ll even have some hired (yet unpaid) help with me so you might just see some of his impressions up there too.

I wonder if i’ll get any cool swag?

Like I said I am still attending the show, on Monday, and will be wearing my mandatory XeNonX t-shirt to help advertise. So if any readers are there look out for me, I sincerely doubt random readers will be spotting me there though. It’s not like i’m Greg Miller or anything.

XeNonX Will Be At M Festival by Anthony Barlow
July 21, 2008, 4:25 pm
Filed under: Event Coverage | Tags: , , ,

I’ve just got word from the guys over at http://www.mfestival.com that XeNonX has been awarded (?) two press passes for the event.

This is great news and will hopefully help propel the blog to new heights. XeNonX will be covering M Festival from the show floor and will be bringing you, the readers, all the latest news from the event.

I am actually excited about covering this it should be great for both myself and the blog.

Plus I get to play FIFA 09. Sweet!

M Festival is the biggest gaming event in the UK and will be held from August 8th-11th in Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire. It IS open to the public too! So i’ll see you there.