Trade Hall 9
The Show takes up several halls of Birmingham's NEC, and even with huge walkways, it's likely to be rammed over this weekend. While it mixes the latest tech in the fields of photography, PCs, driving and everything in-between, if you're looking for the video-games contribution, you'll need to swing down to Hall 9, where the Game Section sprawls over half the space.
Something For All
As you'd expect from a series that covers a wide range of products, even the Game Section is a cocktail of delights. While the current gen of games are represented by sizeable stands from Microsoft, 2K, Codemasters and more, there's contributions from PC hardware designers, arcade cabinet manufacturers, retro enthusiasts, audio specialists - all of whom have products on sale with mark-downs exclusive to the show floor.
You'll find them in the games section, but a surprising number of other booths dotted through the show also carry racing setups to demo equipment. Car fans can try race tracks while strapped in to rumbling chairs, Formula 1 car replicas, three-screen setups and of course, 3D TVs.
Hands-on is the order of the day, as all the game stands have titles up and running for you to try out. While some pods are running titles you've already played before, it's worth sitting in on Epic's talk about Unreal technology, and have a nosy at the ongoing Indigo Jam as games are developed before your very eyes.
Located directly behind the Spec-Ops stand as you enter the hall is Turtle Beach's setup. The headset specialist has rigged up a wide range of titles to showcase its different products with Ridge Racer Unbounded, Street Fighter x Tekken and Soul Calibur V all present with different tiers of headsets connected. Pride of place though is the two four-unit mini-theatres bookending the stand, one of which offers hands-on with the Xbox 360 version of The Witcher 2. As with other retailers, Turtle Beach has show-price sales on its products.
Of course, even a tech-heavy show has a few oddities. While we spotted a mini-Robot Wars-style tournament going on in one stand, and a Power Drill salesman chewing through everything that was put in front of him at another, it was oddball stuff like this - a fish tank/dining table combo, that makes it worth exploring the entire show floor while you're there (we assume they weren't serving sushi).
Arcade stick specialists Mad Catz were touting their latest wares on their stand, with a staggering pile of sticks ready for sale tottering dangerously over their sales bench. But the company also demoed its new line of joypads and headsets - including upcoming Ghost Recon: Future Soldier tie-ins - that you can try out.
Going Retro: Part 1
It isn't all about the new at Gadget Show Live, and a bunch of companies upheld the industry's glorious past with some of the best stands of the show. The Centre of Computing History actually has two stands - one you'll find nestled in the right corner of Hall 9 when you enter from Hall 8, and the other all the way at the far end of Hall 7 beside the Ford drive-thru.
The first has a line-up of classic consoles for you to try, but the Hall 7 stand is worth the trip - a timeline-styled trip through gaming's history, with each area of the stand themed by decade, and offering a range of computers to try out. You'll be hearing more about the organisation in the near future on Gamereactor UK.
The Modern-Day Contenders
Of course, if you want new, there's a few must-see games on display. Be it shooters with a new twist via the three-screen setup, or Spec-Ops: The Line and Sniper Elite V2, which are both playable at the show. Find time for Dirt Showdown as well - one of the finest looking racers of this generation. And a pretty amazing stand to boot.
Going Retro: Part 2
Our second retro entry was were we found ourselves gravitating towards repeatedly throughout our day at the show. Buried in the middle of the Game Section is Bespoke Arcades. A series of arcade cabinets with selectable classics will delight (though the two grand minimum for the cabinets will make your eyes water), and a bunch of consoles offering multiplayer games such as Micro Machines, Mario Kart and Bomberman have to be experienced.
The Gadget Show Live 2012 runs until this Sunday, 15th April. Head on over to the official site for ticket and travel details.