This weekend was the latest of Multiplay’s Insomnia weekend gaming events, and as is standard CCL were on in attendance. The latest show is the first to take place at the new venue of the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, meaning we got started a little earlier than usual as any new location takes a bit of getting used to learning any new procedures and so on. It turns out we needn’t have been too worried, as the staff, both of Multiplay and the Ricoh itself, made the transition painless.


On the CCL stand for the weekend, we had a variety of items on display and for sale, including Cooler Master peripherals, several models of Ducky keyboard, Roccat peripherals and some cool new gear from Inwin. We also had several of our gaming machines and gaming laptops from MSI for people to try out – no competition on them this time unfortunately, but we did have Goat Simulator running on them all and it was quite interesting to see the weird stuff people did in it, and I guess I’ll have to pick it up at some point to experience the strangeness myself!


We were also running a competition in association with Asus, Kingston and Inwin to win a high spec gaming system worth nearly £1200! The competition was a community voted photo competition involving creative use of the CCL tag sticker, and we'll have the full gallery available here shortly.

Elsewhere in the hall, Cooler Master were showing off some of their new gear, including a couple of models that aren’t yet available. The Devastator bundle, with a mouse, keyboard and mousemat is the first of these to be available which should be in stock with us any time now and is a great value full set of gaming peripherals.

Upcoming in future months are two new mice, the Alcor and Mizar. Both are based on the classic Microsoft Intellimouse design, with the Alcor using an optical sensor with settings up to 4000 DPI and a laser sensor in the Mizar that goes up to 8200 DPI. They’re set to retail for around £30 and £40 respectively. Finally, they had a demo model of the replacement to the popular Quickfire Rapid keyboard, dubbed the Rapid-I. This new version has fully programmable white LED backlights, and a new black chassis in line with the rest of the range and is due some time in the summer.


Inwin were demoing a range of systems in the stylish 904 case that we had on display at the winter LAN (and Dave gave an indepth review on) and were running a competition to win an Intel i7 system built up in one. Also on display, and both available from our stand, were the Mr Bubble headphone stand, made out of a single blown piece of glass, and the very cool Batmat mousemat which is made from a diamond cut sheet of aluminium. This is initially available in Batman appropriate black, but is also due for release in red sometime soon.


Other hardware vendors in attendance were Asus, who were showing off their range of headsets as well as an awesome cabinet full of high end graphics cards that would annihilate my wages, and Razer with a demonstration of a number of their peripherals as well as the Razer bus.


While not having any particularly great content to demo on it, there was a tiny stall showing off the ‘future of gaming,’ a 3D screen without glasses. Essentially the same technology as the top screen of a 3DS but bigger, this is a standalone monitor that displays 3D by itself. It is still limited to only really being functional for a single person sat right in front of it, so for a TV being watched by several people glasses are still the only way to go, but the potential is quite promising.


On the gaming side of things, directly opposite from us was the demo booth for the upcoming Transformers Universe game, and I spent the majority of the weekend glancing over at it wanting to have a go until it was finally quiet enough late on Sunday afternoon. Entirely browser based, it sets a team of 4 Autobot players against 4 Deceptions in a team deathmatch. Several of the developers were on hand and they clearly have plans to expand the game into other areas and game modes, as well as potentially larger matches which is promising, and the game runs well and looks quite good, particularly considering that it just streams in your browser as there is apparently no install at all.

Rebellion were showing off the latest release in their Sniper Elite series, Sniper Elite III. A single level was on show, both on PC and console and it’s quite an attractive game with some decent shooting mechanics, including the x-ray shot camera when you full off a head shot or heart shot or other such kill. I promptly proceeded to loudly kill a couple of enemies and got myself surrounded and killed, but I guess a quick play at an event is no time for extreme stealth so that’s ok!


Sadly I didn’t get to try out Evolve, the upcoming co-op shooter from Turtle Rock studios. The queues were too big whenever I went past for me to get away from the stand for long enough, and when I finally did make it back there they’d closed up shop. Trailer footage looks very cool and the game pits a team of 4 hunters against a single massively powerful monster – lots of huge crazy sci-fi guns and violence so totally my kind of thing!


Finally there was Nosgoth, which is a multiplayer spinoff of the classic Legacy of Kain series. Quite a departure from the standard single player games, this pits teams of vampires and humans against each other with the humans controlling like a typical first person shooter while the vampires get hack and slash combat. It seemed pretty cool generally, and something I’ll be keeping my eye on in future.


The Xbox One lounge returned showing off a number of current and new releases, as well as the PlayStation 4 making a first appearance, and there were other games playable in the second of the show’s buses, and the usual range of consoles in the retro section.


A number of upcoming indie releases were on display in playable form in the Indie zone including Space Farmers and Spectrum that caught my eye and looked quite shiny. Oculus Rift’s are starting to become common in events, with Fortresscraft Evolved a Minecraft-alike running in 3D.


Speaking of Minecraft, a huge amount of the show’s floorspace was dedicated to the Minecraft zone with a variety of different custom gametypes playable, as well as some creation areas and a large number of Minecraft characters in a diorama which was quite popular with kids.


The Quest board game people were back with their demonstrations of some cool looking games that I wish I’d had time to sample (maybe next time!) as well as a neat looking miniatures game called Dropzone Commander that had a human military vs invading alien monsters setup with large cityscape environments.


Finally, there were a large number of stalls with stuff for sale – retro games, pieces of art, memorabilia and toys, making me happy that the show fell as it tends to a week before payday so that I didn’t spend all my money!


Due to the early start we sadly didn’t attend the always fun pub quiz, so no story about how badly we did this time around, but we’re planning to make a completely non triumphant return to it in the summer. Despite that we did manage to catch up with a lot of the usual faces, managed to have a good laugh despite feeling like our feet were going to fall off half the time and had what I’d say is possibly our most successful show yet – roll on summer and Insomnia 52!


For more pictures and to see some of the stuff that I’ve no doubt forgotten to mention, you can see my full gallery of (usually sub-par) shots on our Facebook gallery.

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