Growing up, most of us Gen-Xers could sing the Super Mario Bros video game theme tune more easily than we could our own national anthem. Nowadays, the gaming industry is worlds away from its Mario Land beginnings, having grown in both technology and following, and the Middle East is one of the most steadily evolving markets – from January to March this year, PlayStation sold more than two million of its PSP hand-held consoles in the region.
To celebrate this, the three-day Games11 event kicks off at The Dubai Mall ice rink on Thursday September 22, featuring dedicated areas for many of the industry’s key players, including Xbox, Playstation, Pluto Derinto Games and Red Entertainment. Now in its fourth year, with last year’s show attracting 50,000 gaming enthusiasts, the 2011 event is set to be bigger and better than ever, featuring exclusive previews of games and live urban performers. We bring you a sneak preview and find out why you should get down there, as well as chatting to the UAE’s top gaming expertabout how he’s committed his life to consoles.
Games11: The lowdown
Six reasons to visit the dubai mall this week
1 Be the first in the world to preview Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3: visitors can watch 20 minutes of exclusive game-play footage at the RED Entertainment mini viewing room.
2 To celebrate the release of new UFC and WWE games, visit the mixed martial arts octagon setup in the middle of the event and watch live fighting demos.
3 Don’t miss the unveiling of Sony PlayStation’s new 3D monitors, allowing two people to play with 3D glasses and watch the same screen, but from different perspectives.
4 Play games that have not been commercially released, including racing game Forza Motorsport 4, plus games for both PlayStation Move and Xbox360 Kinect.
5 Head to the Geekay Games stall located at the event, where you can pre-order any of the games you’ve tried.
6 Listen for the announcement of the winner of PlayStation’s global Uncharted 3 competition, which has been taking place over the past few months. The winner will travel to Jordan to take part in a real-life treasure hunt – follow the winner at www.facebook.com/playstationme.
New titles to try at Games11
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Game style: First-person shooter.
Release date: November 8 2011.
The coolest innovation from this war-themed game is that the platform will support in-game integration, which means you could be tapping away on your PS3, playing against a friend who’s on an Xbox.
Game style: Third-person action.
Release date: September 29 2011.
Also known as Pro-Evolution Soccer 2012, the most satisfying tweak to this game is that valuable time has been shaved off the knee-buckling reactions of players. Users are also able to manually control a second player while simultaneously running with the ball, which opens up plenty of attacking options.
Gears of War 3
Game style: Third-person shooter.
Release date: September 20 2011.
The final instalment of this highly anticipated third person-shooter features a four-player co-op for the first time. A fully controllable mechanical suit called a Silverback will be available for use in parts of the game, and hip-hop star Ice-T even makes his video game cameo as the voice of new character Griffin.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Game style: Third-person action adventure.
Release date: November 1 2011.
This action game follows treasure hunter Nathan Drake as he sets off on a one-man mission into the Arabian desert, in search of a lost city that sounds a little like a hotel we know very well. When the city turns out
to be not what he expected, he must confront his deepest fears and fight for survival. New features include enhanced backward climbing and the ability to fight multiple enemies at once.
Batman: Arkham City
Game style: Third-person action-adventure.
Release date: October 21 2011.
We wouldn’t be surprised if Jack Nicholson had a hand in this one. Set within the notorious Arkham Asylum psychiatric hospital, Batman must defeat the Joker while fencing off deranged inmates. Gameplay focuses on silent enemy eliminations and investigation skills, and US indie band Panic! At The Disco feature on the game’s soundtrack.
All games will be available at Virgin Megastore upon their release, various locations including Mall of the Emirates (04 341 4353)
The games enthusiast
Sumeet Aggarwal, 26, Indian, producer of games show Game On on DubaiEye
How long have you been gaming?
Realistically, about 10 years. My first job was working for local games store Geekay Games, then I became an editor for Middle Eastern gaming portal www.megamers.com. I also work as a marketing consultant for Microsoft Xbox 360 Middle East, and I fly around the world trying out new games.
Can’t be bad! Which new game are you most looking forward to previewing at Games11?
Uncharted 3 or Street Fighter X Tekken. The former is being released exclusively on PlayStation 3, and the latter will be coming out for use on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
What are some of the most exciting new gaming technologies?
PlayStation is about to launch the hand-held PSP Vita, which has Bluetooth, two built-in touch screens (front and back), dual analogue sticks and a more hardcore processor – that means more fun and more entertainment. Another recent launch is the Nintendo 3D S, a hand-held device that allows you to play 3D games without the use of 3D glasses. Next year, Nintendo Wii is launching its next line, called the U, which is the next generation of consoles – from what we hear, they’re fantastic. The Wii U console will feature a 6.2-inch touch-screen controller that allows the player to continue a gaming session when the rest of the house demands control of the TV.
How much do you think the Nintendo Wii U console will cost?
I would say Dhs1,000 to Dhs1,500.
Favourite game of all time?
Metal Gear Solid, released in 1998 for PlayStation, for its storyline, actors and voice acting, but most of all the action and the replay value.
Xbox 360. You get a lot of action-oriented and first-person-shooter games on the console. PlayStation tends to have more adventure games than action shooters.
What’s the coolest thing to have happened in the games industry in the past five years?
The Nintendo Wii has definitely revolutionised the way we play games and it attracts a much broader audience than just the regular gamer. Anybody can pick up and play the device, no matter what age group they fall into.