I have been a gamer my entire life, or at least as long as I can recall. For years growing up I remember picking up copies of EGM or Gamepro and reading about industry events like E3 and wishing I could attend an event like that, but being a Canadian kid from the Yukon I was sure that would never happen. Well this past weekend, it finally did, I attended PAX 2012 in Seattle! It was quite the surreal experience for me, what with playing many yet to be released games, chatting with press and developers, and just the fact that I had finally made it to a big industry event.
(Outside of the convention center)
I played a lot of games at PAX this year, from Aliens: Colonial Marines to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, the lines were always long but ultimately worth it every time. There were games what were surprisingly good, like God of War: Ascensionís multiplayer. Then there were games that were a little underwhelming like Playstation All Stars. For the most part though, the atmosphere PAX exuded always helped the game or demo regardless of the quality. There were several games that really stood out for me however, and I thought Iíd share them with you.
My top 5 Favorite games of the show:
5.) Natural Selection 2
This game really wasnít on my radar prior to PAX, I was a big Counter-strike 1.6 player in the early 2000ís and had heard of the original Natural Selection many times, but I never got around to actually playing it. I saw Total Biscutís video preview and that was about it, then at the show I gave it a try.
All I can say is WOW, this game is great, very much a thinking manís FPS. The thing that struck me the most was the level design, itís a very choke point originated game, more in line with Counter-Strike than Call of Duty in that regard. I only got to play as the Marines, but it was a very frantic experience, the aliens felt like they excelled at ambushes, as once they were within melee range they were quite difficult to fend off. However if you had some good range between you and the aliens they were far easier to deal with. Itís hard to break the game down after only having played it about 15 minutes, but it was fantastic.
I spent a good half hour chatting it up with the developers too, I was blown away when they told me the team working on the game was only 7 people. That and they created their own engine for the game, originally they were working with the Source engine but due to growing pains they decided to make their own. Great bunch of guys, I wish them the best of luck and hope the game is a big success.
Definitely keep an eye out for this one, as it honestly felt like a better ďAliensĒ game to me than Aliens: Colonial Marines.
4.) Tomb Raider
The Tomb Raider demo at PAX was the same demo shown at E3 earlier this year, a demo I had watched about 14 times already. Regardless of that, I gave it a shot myself, and if I were to summarize the experience with one word it would be Ďatmosphericí. The developers have really nailed the isolation aspect of the game, the whole demo had a very LOST season 1 vibe to it.
While the Uncharted influence is most certainly there, I feel the game did more than enough to distinguish itself from Naughty Dogís series. The survival element seemed to be the focus of the demo, as it had you hunting, gathering, and looking at various skill tree options.
Now Iíve never been a big fan of the Tomb Raider franchise, but Iíve had high hopes for this reboot ever since it was shown at E3 2011. I have no real idea how faithful it is to the series, there wasnít any real puzzle solving or platforming in the demo. All I know is I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it, canít wait for the full release.
I actually didnít get to play Dishonored on the show floor itself, but rather a party at the Stimson-Green Mansion in Seattle. Bethesda put together a Dishonored themed party that mimicked the demo they had brought. In the demo, you had to sneak into a masquerade at the Boyle mansion and assassinate one of the lady Boyle sisters, and at the actual party(In real life) they had various people dressed up as NPCís from the game and they had this whole ďmurder mysteryĒ thing going on. The people in costume would give you vague hints as to what you had to do to find the real lady Boyle, and where giving out prizes to whoever could solve the mystery. Unfortunately I got stuck at a portion that involved talking to a maid.
(One of the Lady Boyleís)
Oh the actual game, guess I better talk about that! I wasnít overly excited for Dishonored prior to PAX, but now itís near the top of my most anticipated list. The demo was absolutely glorious I adored it, from lavish art direction to the open gameplay. The game really does feel like the lovechild of Bioshock and Theif, and I think it will really scratch the itch for those that need something to tide them over till Bioshock Infinite comes out. One note I will make is this game is much more interesting if you play stealthily, going in guns blazing can be fun too, but it's not nearly as satisfying.
2.)DmC (Devil May Cry)
One of the most controversial reboots in gaming history is shaping up to be one hell of an action game. This was one title I was always cautiously optimistic about, I loved the first Devil May Cry, hated Devil May Cry 2, never got around to finishing Devil May Cry 3, and thought Devil May Cry 4 was just ok.
With DmC however, I feel Ninja Theory is onto something amazing, I had a big grin on my face the entire time I played the demo. Combat is probably more fluid than it ever has been in the series, and the art direction is simply astounding. The headset at the station I was playing the demo on unfortunately was not working, so I canít speak on the music or sound design, but from what my buddy that also tried the demo said itís fantastic.
This was the most shockingly good game of the entire convention for me, not because I didnít think it would be good, but more I just had no idea how fucking awesome it was going to be. Really canít wait to see the PC version of DmC, as the only thing I think the demo needed was that glorious 60 frames per second
If there was one theme at PAX Prime that seemed to echo throughout the convention, it was the idea that free to play games can be just engaging as full retail titles. From the League of Legends regionals being the seemingly single biggest draw at the convention, to Planetside 2 blowing peopleís minds with its scale and polish, the appeal of free to play has never seemed greater, and then of course there was Hawken. This gameÖ Oh boy did I love this game, I was amazingly hyped for this one and it delivered.
I played a single 8 player deathmatch and was immediately blown away, the game was absolutely gorgous and I still canít believe itís a free to play title. The mechs in the game have an incredible sense of weight and scale to them, but somehow the game maintains twitch styled mechanics, I have no idea how the developers pulled that off but itís quite a feat. I can tell the game is going to have a really high skill ceiling, and Iím fairly confident itíll probably be a big E-sport game if itís well supported.
When I played it, I got this awesome Hawken iphone 4 case for placing first in our game. Yup that was some blatant e-peen stroking right there, but I donít even care because it was such a great time. Words cannot describe how excited I am for this game, it was justÖ Amazing.
Well, those were the games I enjoyed the most, but as the blog title suggests, whereís the booze and PEOPLE FROM THE INTERNET? Well here you are my friends, all the photos with the Dtoid editors are from the Dtoid community meetup, in which I got stupidly drunk. I recall talking to various fellow Dtoid community members that evening, and I apologize if I came onto you that evening, I was an awestruck Canadian in a foreign land.
(Rocking a seriously terrible drunkface with Hamza)
(Donít know if any of you listened to GFW radio back in 2007/2008, but this gentleman is Jeff Green, formerly of 1UP, GFW magazine and now works at Popcap. The guy is the pinnacle of awesome)
(Tara Long and I, dear lord I wish I could slap myself for making that face lol)
(With Total Biscuit, he was at the Planetside 2 booth and is seriously a really nice guy)
Thatís it folks, all in all Iíd say it was an incredible trip, and Iím most certainly going again next year. If youíre at all interested in attending PAX, donít hesitate, just do it. You will not regret it, I promise.