I departed for PAX East 2011 with no previous convention experience and no idea what to expect. I had few goals other than "enjoy yourself", check out the 3DS, and attend at least the Community panel to support Hamza (or more accurately, boo him affectionately). I returned- groggy, with a light head and a heavy heart, thoroughly satisfied, and surprisingly jet lagged for someone living on the East Coast. In most sports, the phrase "There's always next year" is used most often when a team (or fan) has given up and consigned themselves to their fate, but with regards to PAX, it's a positive statement that positively drips with the excitement of wondering what games will be there, how much bigger it will have grown, and how many more dtoiders will manage the trek. It was great to see/meet a few people the night before the Expo began, and I wish I was able to spend more time with everyone.
The PAX convention floor is a Mecca for gamers. When I first stepped foot inside, surrounded by booths, giant displays, cosplayers, and hundreds of playable demos, I'll admit that the sensory overload almost paralyzed me with 'awesome'. The first thing I had to try was the Nintendo 3DS, because that was the only thing that cannot be properly portrayed via internet or XBL/PSN demos. After about fifteen seconds of Pilot Wings 3DS, I was satisfied with how the 3D effects worked. With a little tweaking of the slider, I found a depth that worked for me. After the brief demo, the rest of the show was available to explore. One thing I absolutely loved was how Indie and smaller games found ways to be represented amidst a sea of triple-A titles. Right in the middle of the Rockstar, Capcom, Bethesda, BioWare corner, people could play demos of Fez
. Twisted Pixel had a fairly sizable booth with a playable build of the kinect title the Gunstringer
, with Ubisoft's gigantic wall of Child of Eden
(also playable on kinect) and Harmonix's Rock Band stage all very close by.
People who didn't want to wait out the several hour lines of L.A. Noire
or Portal 2
(or several day line of Star Wars: the Old Republic
) waited through shorter lines and were exposed to games they might not have heard of otherwise. A few games that excited me personally were Bastion
and Gatling Gears
, both I had heard next to nothing about. For every Red Faction: Armageddon
, or Darkness II
, there was a Spy Party
and Dishwasher: Vampire Smile
. All in all, for fans of games big and small, PAX was fantastic. Portal 2
looks like it's nailing the humor, L.A. Noire
is really spot on with the facial animations and detective aspects of investigations, and I am more excited than ever for Guild Wars 2
. Also, holy hell, where can I get a four-player Castle Crashers
arcade cabinet? Care and dedication aren't sufficient words to describe that
labor of love.
Duke Nukem finally got his throne, and Capcom was selling extremely limited supplies of Okamiden
plushes that cost more than the game itself. Big Daddies put the Kool-Aid man to shame, I got to poke through a Red Faction
mech like a chest-burster, and even got to play a little vintage Turbografx 16.
Oh, and anything with a steering wheel attached, ArcticFox drove.