by: Alex (@alexnz)
I know what you’re going to say; “Wasn’t PAX like 2 weeks ago?” And you know what? You’re absolutely right, but let’s forget about all that for now.
For those that don’t know, PAX is an annual expo run by the good folks at Penny Arcade. Currently they have two shows; PAX Prime which takes place towards the end of summer in Seattle, and PAX East in Boston at the beginning of spring.
PAX is unique among video game conventions in that they really cater to the gamers instead of trying to create press. If you’re looking for a place to geek out with like-minded folk, this is the place.
Aside from the show floor, PAX has plenty of places for you to just hang out. Such as their free console areas where they have tons of PS3s and 360s hooked up and ready for you. They even provide the games, of which they have a pretty good selection. Wanna play some horde mode in Gears for a bit? Go nuts.
They even have a separate area for classic consoles. Pretty much everything from N64 to Sega 32X to NES with Zapper and boob tube TVs to a damn Vectrex. They also have a handheld area which is basically a long hallway, littered with beanbags, where people can gather with their DSs, PSPs, Vitas, etc. and trade, battle, or Street Pass to their heart’s content.
Not into video games? No worries, they have an entire section dedicated to tabletop games too! Go ahead and get your D&D on or bust out your Magic deck. There’s no need to feel intimidated either, everyone is super friendly and willing to show you the ropes if you’re interested in trying something out.
If you’re feeling a bit exhibitionistic, they’ve got Dance Central and Rock Band stages where you can show off.
Now, for actual games that I saw, one of the first things I ran to was the Ubisoft booth to check out Assassin’s Creed 3. It wasn’t playable, but they did show a video comprised completely of gameplay footage. I wasn’t too excited about the game prior to PAX, but after seeing the improvements to combat I’m practically frothing at the mouth. Chainable assassinations and rope dart (think hanging take downs á la Batman)? Yes please!
The only other *major* game I checked out was Max Payne 3, which was playable. After a brief intro to the controls I was dual wielding 9mms and shoot dodging just like I remember. I’m glad that Rockstar has been steadily improving their shooting mechanics with the past couple of games. Bodes very well for GTA5 when that eventually comes out.
Can’t wait to pick up Max Payne when it drops in a few weeks.
I also got a chance to play Suda 51’s (Shadows of the Damned, No More Heroes) next joint, Lollipop Chainsaw. It’s an action/brawler where you play as a bubbly cheerleader tasked with killing zombies invading her high school using her trusty chainsaw. Oh, and she has her boyfriend’s still living head tied to her waist. While Suda’s games have been criticized for lacking depth in gameplay, which I felt was true in the demo of Lollipop I played, I usually come for the batshit insanity that is his trademark. And he’s also working with James Gunn (Super) to write the story. My interest is definitely piqued.
Indie games also had a pretty big presence here. I’m kind of disappointed I didn’t get to play any of them (curse you, long lines!) here’s what I came out excited for:
- Guacamelee! – Metroid style game focusing on melee combat. Very colorful 2D graphics. You play as a kick ass luchador.
- Dyad – Trippy shooter (I think) that reminded me of Rez. Graphics inspired by dropping tons of acid.
- Super TIME Force – 16 bit-looking shooter/platformer where dying can actually help you. Basically every time you die, your last life is played back like ghost data in a racing game. Except your ghost can actually kill guys. I think I saw about 20 “ghosts” on one guy’s screen.
- Mark of the Ninja – Kind of like their previous game, Shank, Klei has a very sharp-looking 2D brawler, but this time focusing more on stealth (you know, like a ninja).
- Joe Danger the Movie – The sequel to Joe Danger which was a quirky Excitebike type game but with platforming and stunts mixed in. This new game, Joe has access to more vehicles like jetpacks, snowmobiles and more.
Other highlights for me were getting my copy of Mass Effect 3 signed (oh yeah!), all the awesome and not so awesome cosplay, random sightings of game industry celebrities (even snapped a low quality pic of Suda 51) and just other weird shenanigans (like Ubisoft promising free copies of Far Cry 3 if you let them give you a mohawk).
So yes PAX, I love you dearly and can’t wait to be all up inside you next year.