Last Wednesday the whole crew (Istran, Raluca and Clemens) got together to head off to Europe’s biggest gaming event: Gamescom! After a last minute rush to the supermarket to stock up on energy drinks and other highly caffeinated beverages we all got in a car and headed straight for Cologne, Germany to attend the Xbox VIP Party!

Arrival at Gamescom

After three hours of driving (thank god for no speed limits in Germany otherwise this trip would’ve been so much longer) we arrived in Cologne and were immediately greeted by a gigantic building size Battlefield 3 poster: we were in the right spot! Raluca was a bit worried on where I parked my car, but after some German dudes assured us we parked it in a proper spot we were on our way to the convention center!

Clemens and Istran at the Gamescom entrance

Unfortunately we couldn’t enter yet since we didn’t buy tickets for the first day of Gamescom, instead we were personally invited by Microsoft to attend their private VIP party and we had instructions to meet at the North entrance at 7pm. Since it was only 5pm we decided to go on a stroll through the city and check out the famous Cologne Cathedral and have a bite to eat.

Getting to the VIP Party

Two hour later we were back at the Gamescom entrance, ready to go to the Microsoft Party. Upon entering we were stopped by a security guard who wanted to know why we were going inside when everyone else was going outside (Gamescom officially closed at 7pm). The guy spoke no English at all and wanted to send us back outside. Fortunately Clemens came to the rescue and explained in his best possible German (which was still not very good) that we were invited to a special party. Much broken discussion later we were finally allowed to pass and moments later we were finally standing inside the exhibition area of Gamescom!

The ambience at the floor was great!

The vibrance of colors of all the different developer’s booth was almost overwhelming and even though Gamescom was officially closing for the day a lot of the demo pods were still on. We used this brief moment of time to rush through the area and check out as much as possible. We saw a lot of cool stuff but had to go back quickly to the Xbox area to pick up our wristbands that would let us into the party. After acquiring those elusive items we went to the location of the party and were welcomed by friendly Microsoft people that handed out premium quality beer, wine, water and snacks. We were surprised how little people were actually invited to this party and it all seemed very exclusive. Not long after we got our drinks we heard an announcement: the official presentation were about to start!

Xbox presentations

The Xbox booth featured a stage with a massive screen at which we would see the exclusive presentations and live demos of the event. After a quick welcoming it was time for the first presentation: Halo: Anniversary! This was no mere demo video, this was an 343 industries employee actually playing the game! The demo gave me goosebumps, as someone who played the original Halo so much it almost became a lifestyle I was overwhelmed with nostalgia and was absolutely blown away by the beauty of the improved graphics and sound. The game looked absolutely stunning and succeeds to capture that classic Halo playing experience. Unfortunately there was zero news on what the Kinect features of the game will be, but I’m sure we’ll hear about that soon.

The stage for all the Xbox presentations

Next we saw presentations of Forza 4 and Mass Effect 3 and although both these games just look incredible (Forza 4 graphics are insane and I’m loving the new Mass Effect cover system) there was not a single mention of Kinect during these presentations. We also saw live demos of Skyrim and Gears of War 3 but since these are not Kinect games we won’t dedicate too much time to these.

One cool thing was that in between the presentation Xbox items were flung into the audience. Raluca acquired one of the exclusive female Xbox t-shirts (there were only five or so of these) and Clemens and myself caught a key-cord and some pretty cool Kinect sweat bands. There were also some bigger prizes given away (like controllers and even a few monitors) but the crew of unfortunately was unable to win any of these.

Play some Kinect

When the presentations were over we were allowed to play any of the games that were featured on the Xbox booth and this was by far the best part of the whole event. Because this was an exclusive VIP party there were very little people on the floor, and because of this we never had to wait to play a game. If we would’ve been at Gamescom as a regular visitor we would’ve been in long lines just to even get a glimpse of a game. But now…no waiting, just playing!

Istran performing a special move in Kung Fu High Impact

We played all of the Kinect games that were featured in the booth and although all games just had a very stripped down demo version playable we got some very good impression of all the major upcoming Kinect games. Some of the highlight: Kinect Star Wars, The Gunstringer, Dance Central 2 and Kinect Sports Season Two!

We will write an extensive first impression about all the games we played and these will be posted on our website in the coming days. Be sure to check back often because we left Gamescom with a wealth of information!

Final words

The Xbox VIP Party was absolutely amazing and we had a ton of fun! We got to play all of the games featured on the Xbox booth and saw some awesome presentations. Thanks to Microsoft for inviting us and we’ll make sure to be back next year!

Did you know that?

  • Clemens almost didn’t go to Gamescom because he was too busy with other stuff…
  • But that he was extremely thankful at Istran for convincing him to go after all.
  • The first goodies we received on our Gamescom trip were actually three Coca Cola glasses that we got from eating at McDonalds. Not really games related but still a nice bit of loot from this awesome trip!
  • Raluca (who had never played the original Halo) was pretty impressed by the graphics of the game during the Halo: Anniversary presentation…
  • But that she didn’t know the presentation of the game started out in the “classic graphics” mode which used the 10 year old graphics of the original game…
  • And that when the presenter pressed the shoulder button and switched over to the new graphics she cried out something indistinguishable and almost fell over in amazement…
  • To be honest the rest of the crew were also pretty amazed at how beautiful the graphics looked.
  • Microsoft gave away an exclusive special Gears of War limited edition Xbox 360…
  • But that the guy who won it didn’t even want it.
  • Istran got a bit too enthusiastic while playing Kung Fu High Impact…
  • And punched the ground in full force while trying to execute one of the special moves.
  • His knuckles are still red, even thought three days has passed since this little incident
  • Clemens played Kinect Disneyland Adventures for hours…
  • And didn’t do this because the demo had so much content…
  • But because he really liked the girl that was presenting the game.
  • Istran beat the crap out of Clemens while test playing PowerUp Heroes…
  • Because Clemens didn’t understand the controls…
  • Or so he says.
  • Kinect took up about 75% of the total Xbox booth space…
  • And that the crew is very happy to see that Kinect is so prominently featured
  • Istran got to play Kinect Star Wars…
  • And almost experience no lag!
  • But still managed to finish last while playing Pod Racing…
  • And even had steering assists on.
  • The Xbox manager and presenter of the event had a bit of a talk with the 123Kinect crew…
  • And that he is very impressed with the articles on the website and sometimes even reads things he didn’t even know yet!
  • This same manager thought the 123Kinect crew didn’t catch enough goodies during the presentation
  • So gave them a whole bag filled with Xbox Kinect goodies to take home!
  • The 123Kinect crew had an absolute blast and will be talking about this party months to come!

Thanks to 123KINECT visitor Microsoft for submitting this news!