PAX East 2011 Part 2: Video Games
While Penny Arcade is a web comic, PAX is primarily based around video games. In fact, with its attendance of 70,000, PAX East is the largest video game convention in the country. So there.
Most of the big name games (Old Republic, Portal 2, LA Noir, 3DS) were all but inaccessible. Most of them had a 3 to 4 hour wait. As part of my resolution to not spend the entire con in line, I didn’t get to see much of these. The LA Noir booth had a video playing on the outside, and Old Republic was visible without playing it, but the others were enclosed so without waiting in line there was nothing to see. With the exception of Old Republic, those games are all coming out soon; it’s not like this was my only chance to see them.
Most of the games I enjoy playing are the less mainstream games anyway, and PAX is great for that. I’ve got a bit of information about a lot of them.
Let’s jump right in.
Alright, so there’s nothing really mind blowing here. I love the older Tropico games, and this game promises not to disappoint. Far from just being a rehash of the old stuff though, they have added new missions, new buildings, and a new mechanic. You can now get a counsel of ministers elected to help you get some of your more questionable plans passed and into effect. They’ve also added interactive natural disasters. As I said, nothing really life changing, but I think it promises to be a really solid game.
Like Tropico, this is a sequel that while basically the same game as the original adds a pretty fantastic new feature.
The Magic TCG added a new multiplayer format called Archenemy. It allows one player to control one large, epic enemy and up to 3 other players work together to take him down. I’ve played it a couple of times and you really have to have a strong deck and a strong coordinated effort in order to defeat the archenemy. I’ve been crushed a number of times when the archenemy pulls a card that allows him to place a pile of 5/5 flying dragons on the board… and there’s nothing you can do about it. They’ve added this multiplayer mode to the already pretty fantastic video game.
Defeating the archenemy doesn’t seem nearly as insurmountable as in the card game. Brian and I did wait in line for this one, and we were matched up with one other person to take down Koth. We were ultimately (and fairly smoothly) successful. I think a large part of this was that the cards happened to be with us and not against us. Only a couple of unlucky draws and we could have been in serious trouble. I’m super excited for this game to come out. I’ve been really into cooperative board games lately, and having a co-op video game that isn’t a shooter is pretty exciting.
If you are at all interested in Magic, even learning to play the card game, I highly recommend picking up the digital version. It really helped me learn how to play, and I also get to play decks with more complex mechanics (landfall) that I would hate playing in a physical deck. It’s rather akin to my love of playing Risk on the computer; there’s far less that you have to worry about figuring out. And far less for you to get wrong.
This game looks pretty awesome. It’s something kind of like a mellower Geometry Wars involving shooting shapes. I can’t say that I was 100% certain of what was going on.
The game is apparently a spiritual successor to a PS2 game called Rez. I never played it, but when I looked it up I discovered that it’s the game that in Japan came with an extra vibration piece you were supposed to put in your pocket to make the game more immersive. (I remember reports that it was not being used for immersion, but that it was a great incentive for girls to play video games.)
Anyway, the interesting thing about Child of Eden is that it is a Kinect game. For there to be a non-sports based Kinect game is pretty awesome in the first place, and watching people play is rather like watching them do Tai Chi. It also manages to be a Kinect game that’s not targeted at being a party game. Other than the fitness “games”, there haven’t been many released that I really feel like I would use all by myself. This one seems like it could be really relaxing and fun.
I am totally excited about this game and it comes out next week on both the PS3 and 360. It’s made by Hothead Games of DeathSpank and Penny Arcade Adventures fame.
It’s sort of a cross between Overlord and World of Goo. The basic premise is that you start the level in command of 50 little Swarmites. You get points based on how many of them make it to the end of the level. You are meant to sacrifice some (in the demo video they show them all jumping off a cliff so that some can jump across their heads to get to the other side) and as you go on, some of them get different abilities (it looked to me like a few of them were on fire). It’s that perfect combination of platformer and puzzle game that always gets me hooked.
I won’t lie. Just from seeing the name of this game I felt a little conflicted. I mean, hey, I like orcs. I like having them around. I don’t want to kill them. Then I saw some gameplay and I got over it.
This game looks crazy. It’s a combination hack and slash and tower defense. Fear not, oh ye tower defense haters. It’s not like that. Instead of the standard fare of gathering resources and building units, you’ve got these traps you can place in the path of the oncoming orcs. There are spikes that shoot out of the floor, blocks that fall from the ceiling, springboards that launch them across the room.
Also different from your tradition tower defense is that you are an actual character running around and you have the ability to kill the orcs yourself. This game has the potential to be incredibly fun or incredibly frustrating. Either way, the art style is fantastic and it looks like a solid purchase for me.
This game is not for me. Then again, it never set out to be. However, I feel like I need to mention it because it was the thing that Brian was most excited about seeing.
The game is described as a team based action shooter. In reality, it’s a free to play MMO*. It’s a little bit Halo, a little bit TF2, developed by a guy who used to work on World of Warcraft. The game looks really awesome if you’re into those sorts of games, and I’ll admit that the art style is pretty cool.
Instead of classes, players will be able to use battleframes which will determine their combat style. You can add to these battleframes or switch them at any time (I love the smell of microtransactions in the morning). It’s a really interesting concept and while it may not be my type of game to play, I’m interested to see how it does in the market.
*The developers have said that they don’t want to call it an MMO because it doesn’t fit into the traditional form of one. I think they problem they have is that RPG so often gets automatically assumed at the end of MMO because, well, those are the types of MMOs that are on the market and doing well.
This was the game I was most excited to see at PAX… and the only think I missed out on completely. The keynote started late and ran long, and the Reckoning panel had already started when we got out (and was already full). I had figured they would probably be on the floor as well, but sadly, they weren’t. I’ll have to take my friends’ speechlessness as testimony that it’s going to be an awesome game. I’m just sad I didn’t get to see it for myself.
There were two games that are already out that I had passed over but as a result of seeing them in person, I am now very interested in. One is Risk: Factions. I adore a good game of Risk, especially a video game version. The fewer tiny plastic army dudes I have to cram onto Australia, the better. I figured that I’ve already got Risk games, what do I need another one for. The game said, “Yes, but now you can play Risk… as a cat.” I’m in.
The other game is Raskulls. It’s got over world levels and bonus stages with puzzles. And the cutest art ever. Precious. Gonna have to pick that one up too.
Well, that covers about half of the games that are out to take my money in the near future. I’ve got a few pretty awesome board games to talk about in another upcoming post.