PAX 2011 Thoughts: Days TWO and THREE

Day ONE here 
Looks like I've got a bunch of apologies to make. First, sorry this blog post is so late. Sunday and Monday saw me not unlike a ghost, simply floating around, lethargic, due to the energy drain of PAX, then was simply busy all of Tuesday. By the way: SOUNDERS GOING TO THE US OPEN CUP! F U Soccer HATERS!
Secondly, the Vita was only available to members of the press apparently, so no dice there.  On the one hand, it's understandable, because the show could hardly handle another 4-hr line. On the other, the Vita is a console that I don't plan on purchasing myself (haven't even picked up a 3DS yet, and I LOVE Nintendo handhelds
Thirdly, Uncharted 3 cut off its line 2 hrs before the show ended, despite the line not being particularly long.  The guy at the booth told me to hang around for a little while until they opened it up for a few more people at the end, but I still needed to get to Halo, so no dice there.  
So without further ado:

  • Mass Effect 3. It's what I got to the convention center at 7:30 on Saturday for. I'm not sure if it was because I've read every demo preview any outlet has done so far, but the demo felt very second-nature. Good to see our  SPOILER WARNING: Click here to reveal hidden content. back to lend a hand. Controls were nearly identical to those in Mass Effect 2. Visuals looked... better, but not so much so that you're going to be astounded at the Bioware team for their amazing work. 
    Dev teams on sequels always seem to talk about how much they've improved the AI in their game. You'll hear it every year from EA Sports. But in Mass Effect 3, enemy strategy was probably the thing that stood out the most. These mofos were relatively smart, even in this demo version. I had to really pick my spots coming out of cover, and was lucky to not have died throughout. 
    Speaking of cover, there were a few issues with that aspect. Getting behind boxes and the like didn't always work perfectly, leaving me standing around like an idiot as I was being shot at by certain enemies SPOILER WARNING: Click here to reveal hidden content.nearly tore me to shreds. It's still a demo though, and I expect those issues to be worked out.
    Note: Got a Normandy S2 for my Xbox Live Avatar, so waiting in line was just fine. Left the show for a few hours to see my Sounders play, then came back and played the next game, and more.
  • Marvel vs Capcom 3. First, I want to make it perfectly clear just how important this game is to me. On Friday, I went by the Udon booth. Udon is the company that does much of the art for Capcom, Street Fighter in particular. They did all the HD sprites in SSFIITHDR. They also did the art for Phoenix Wright, one of my favorite game series of all time. So at the Udon booth I picked up art books for both Phoenix Wright and Street Fighter Tribute, books that I have meant to buy each of the last three years at the convention but haven't for various reasons. UMvC3 is, as far as I'm concerned, a perfect marriage of my love of Phoenix and Street Fighter (and indeed Resident Evil). 
    You can imagine my disappointment in finding out that he wasn't in the demo. 
    It's understandable of course. No one was supposed to know about him yet. But if I was going to play the demo of Ultimate, I would have just downloaded the demo of the first game and used my imagination. Hawkeye controlled interestingly, as did Tyrant, but the game was missing its major draw to me. To sum it up... NEEDS MOAR PHOENIX. 
  • Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. Perhaps my biggest disappointment of the show. Not to say it was bad, mind you. I'll say something similar about Batman in the next section, but a lot of work has been put into this game. Zombies seem to come out of every possible nook and cranny, creating a great claustrophobic vibe during gameplay. But melee attacks are greatly overpowered, not having to worry once about being bitten as I slashed my knife around. And I did that a bunch, because in true Resident Evil fashion, I ran out of ammo. Green herbs were also in short supply, and if a teammate grabbed it first while you were clinging onto life, then you were boned. Unlike other games at the show, this is one I would have preferred to see the versus multiplayer instead of the story co-op, so see more of the infection dynamic (bleeding causes zombies to come at you ferociously). 
  • Batman: Arkham City. All I have to say is this; if you at all enjoyed the first one, you'll love Arkham City. Every facet is better, most notably the combat (including environment-specific attacks and counters. Playing as Catwoman, pressing X near a table would cause her to roll across it, using her legs to dispatch her attackers). This game has had a very evident amount of care paid to it, and will be a game-of-the-year candidate in a very, very crowded year. 
  • Halo: Anniversary. Okay, it wasn't REALLY Halo: Anniversary. it was Halo: Reach on the Anniversary engine with Anniversary maps. Not being a big Halo aficionado, I still felt like there was a difference, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. The map was fun; that's all I can really say without hurting my gamer cred. But man, the WETA Warthog they had there was sick. I have a picture or two if someone would like to see it. 
  • Spider Man: Edge of Time. Another Spider-man brawler. Confusing goal objectives were made a bit more forgiving by a surprisingly deep attack system. Flow was easy to keep, making dispatching the numerous enemies enjoyable. Getting to high places was a pain though, which should never be the case in a spidey game. If Batman gets swinging around more correct than Peter Parker, than something is wrong.
    The dialogue was great though. Banter between the current and future Spider-men felt genuine and sometimes pretty darn funny. This game may force me to rent it when it comes out, despite the flaws. 
  • Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.  It's what I got to the convention center at 7:30 on Sunday for. Worth it? I'm still not sure. Elder Scrolls has never really been my cup of tea. First person melee combat performed by wildly swinging a sword around? I'm not asking for precision, but such combat simply frustrates me. That said: OMG THIS GAME LOOKS BEAUTIFUL. I remember when Oblivion came out it looked quite nice, but Skyrim makes Oblivion look like Dead Rising Wii. The trees, the water, etc everything looks fantastic. 
    Of course, I didn't get to look at it all that long. The demo booth that I was assigned to froze up before I even started, leaving me with less than half the time with the game as anyone else. Also, I was looking forward to the much-hyped dragon fights, only to learn they weren't available where I was. Makes me regret that I never went to the Capcom booth to play "Dragons Dogma" which actually looked pretty cool. 
  • Lollipop Chainsaw. Suda 51 is alive and well. Long live Suda 51. 
    Lollipop Chainsaw will be second-nature to anyone that enjoyed No More Heroes. the controls are similar, mapped to a normal gamepad instead of the Wii-mote, and sees players flipping around and making special attacks within a minute. All of the visual flairs you'd expect from Grasshopper are present, and the cheerleader lead is unsurprisingly sexualized the way many of the females in NMH were. Of the brawlers I played at the show, this one has by far the most interest on my end, though maybe that's because of the foam chainsaws they were giving everyone that played the game. 
    Final note; this is Suda's second consecutive game in which he supplies players with a body-less head to help you get through the game. I've gotta think that is a record. 
  • Super Mario 3D Land. Like an idiot, I didn't realize there was a sprint button for this new Mario game until AFTER I played it, making my main opinion (that it was too slow) moot. The 3D really does help to gauge relation to things like power-up boxes well, making it perhaps the game with the best practical USE for 3D yet. The puzzles in the demo were simple and didn't show the creativity of Galaxy or Galaxy 2, but it was early in the game. Frankly, didn't see enough of the package to know whether it's worth anything.
  • Rayman Origins. Hot damn this game is pretty. Hand-drawn sprites on a hand-drawn background make this one a feast for the eyes. And, from what I saw in the demo, it's also brutally difficult. Playing co-op as Rayman's big blue friend, I found myself dying frequently (I wonder if the hit box for my character was bigger than Rayman's because of the size of the sprite. In which case, NO FAIR!). The game takes the Mario mechanic of having dead friends float around in bubbles until you can free them, simultaneously helping the flow of the game and assisting players stuck on a certain part (assuming one of them can pass safely). I could see myself picking up the 3DS version of this title (which wasn't on the show floor).
BTW ESREVER. I was unable to get another CS: GO code for you, but don't lose hope yet; I've got a buddy that works at Valve, and he might be able to procure you one in the coming days. 
 
To the games I missed...
Uncharted 3 
RAGE 
The Old Republic 
And MANY, MANY MMOs. 
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PAX 2011 Thoughts, Day One.

In keeping with my schedule from the  last few years, I'm posting my observations from day one of the greatest gift to gamers   
 
Thoughts

  • Dead Island. I've had only a passing interest in this game up until today, but faced with a short line, I discovered what I can only describe as a First Person alternate universe Dead Rising. And I mean that in the best possible way. The tension of being out in the open with only a pole to protect you is palpable from the minute you step onto the sandy beaches of an infected paradise. These aren't normal zombies. These are fast zombies. 28 days later zombies. They can and did fuck me up a couple times in a 5+ minute demo. 

  • X-Men: Destiny. I asked the booth rep two things after I finished playing the demo for the game. First was "Do you play as any of the X-men people are familiar with in this game?" To which his answer was, predictably, no. My second question, which sums up my feelings for Silicon Knights, was "So... Where can I find the Eternal Darkness 2 demo"? To which we shared a nervous chuckle. Which I took as a "right here, next year". You heard it here first. 
    The gameplay was solid. I picked the little japanese girl (which best reflects my inner self) and I had some genuine fun experimenting with her powers and abilities. There was some depth there, beyond mashing the attack button. Also, in the 10 minute demo, there were no fewer than 5 cameo appearances from established Marvel heroes. This game is flying under my radar, but with some good review scores I could see myself taking a swing at it. 

  • Resident Evil: Revelations. This game looks VERY good. The reason why the 3DS has 3D is for games like this. I'm having a hard time coming to the words I want to use, but in its own way, Revelations looks as desirable graphically as current console games do. It sucks you in through its looks alone. I have heard there is a third-person aiming mode in the game, but I didn't get the oppourtunity to try it. Instead, I was stuck in first-person, which functioned, but was far from ideal. 
     
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. I left the booth, the first one I stopped at, wishing I could play a bit more. I had just finished getting my ass handed to me by the nemesis of the game, the man with the well-endowed... tounge. the booth rep (one of many I bugged about Project Rainfall) said she hadn't seen anyone beat him yet. 
    While the sword mechanics took some getting used to (particularly being a lefty, where everything seems backwards... again...) I eventually got the hang of them just as the demo came to a close. the sword swipes are well re-created in the game, though there was a bit of lag between my swing and Link's. Visually the game was stunning, and I don't just mean for a Wii game. Miyamoto and crew have put a ton of very evident care into this title, making the Wii look like something that isn't a Wii. Unless... maybe they were hiding Wii Us under the cabinets and didn't bother to tell us. 

  • Mario Kart 7. My next stop after Zelda was to the Nintendo 3DS booths, most prominent of which was Mario Kart which, as a gamer nearby noted, seems to have followed the Windows method of numbering. I came into it not really thinking it would be much of an upgrade from the DS predecessor, and functionally it really isn't. You still pick your racer and take three laps around the track as you always have. The addition of propellers and hang-gliders doesn't change the race in a noticeable  way (though gliding was sort of fun). Again though, maybe it was just because of the 3D effect, but Kart was as visually appealing as I can remember the series ever being. 

  • Gotham City Impostors: I came into the game expecting little more than a Team Fortress 2 clone, and that doesn't seem to be an unfair comparison on the tail end of my time with it. A squad-based arcade shooter with special abilities and quirks, Impostors is very much Impersonating the popular Valve game. At the same time though, there's enough in the package to separate itself from what seems to be a blatant inspiration. Fun, though neither I nor my partners in crime-fighting were keyed in on potential depth, I could see Imposers making a name for itself.

  • Assassin's Creed: Revelations. There are only two multiplayer games I play nowndays. One is the predecessor to another game on this list. The other is Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. Even when I was done with the fantastic single-player experience, I was able to dive in and love the sneaky goddamnyoustolemykillandanotherguyshankedmefrombehind fun. The sequel, and its new multiplayer experience, seem to have refined and improved the overall package. While it's not perfect (I'm so tired of my target running around on rooftops, where any kill I achieve will be rewarded with minimum points) I'm looking forward to sinking my dagger into this one. The mode on display, instead of pointing to the target, simply indicates when he or she is in your field of vision, making it easier to hide effectively and set up those big points multipliers. While it's only one mode (the previous model is coming back from what I understand) it's one that I will likely favor. One downside; I'd already pre-ordered the game prior to PAX, so I'm unable to get an Altair costume, distributed for preordering AT PAX. *fist shake*

  • Kid Icarus. This is the sort of game that makes me hope real hard that the rumors of a dual-thumbpad 3DS upgrade are true. This game, even more than the afforementioned Zelda, is not at all friendly to lefties. I can't legibly write my name with my right hand, so trying to control a shooter with said useless limb is akin to painting a portrait with your feet. Some people can do it, but the results wont be pretty. This is especially disappointing because the game underneath feels great. The mechanics are crisp, and it has the same fun factor that Smash Bros does. But there's not a chance in hell that I'm going to be buying the game if I have to struggle with the stylus between my T-rex fingers. There was also a cute, but useless, AR card game. 

  • Counter Strike: Global Offensive. The other multiplayer game that I still touch is Counter Strike: Source. Probably the single most anticipated game at the show from my point of view, only to drop me on my face when i got to the end of the line. The game itself seemed fine, but my experience was marred by... *shudder* CONTROLLERS! And not a keyboard and mouse in sight! It sounds like a nightmare, but it was very real. I couldn't even equip my silencer! Aiming was imprecise and, well, what one expects from a console. I suppose I can't complain too much though, since everyone that played got a pass to the beta later this year. Good times will be had soon. 

  • StarFox 64 3D. Unlike the other 3D games I played, this one surprisingly didn't seem to benefit all that much from the new technology. It's the same game you knew and loved back in the day, and while it's still fun, I would have expected the 3D to add to this game the way it did Mario Kart and Resident Evil. It just wasn't the same though.

  • Ghost Recon: Future Soldier/Ghost Recon Online. I was psyched to get my hands on the single player after seeing videos of the game in action at the two previous E3s, so imagine my disappointment when I saw it was only the multiplayer on display. To be fair, the game worked well and was fun, but in my short time I didn't see much that helped Future Soldier set itself apart from, say, the upcoming free-to-play Ghost Recon Online, or other first and third person shooters.  Teams were given tasks to perform and a set time to perform them in. Great and stuff, but I wanted to use all the crazy stealth and gadgets from the trailers. Online was fun, with a strong capture vibe, but these games largely played the same. Fun, but not really what I was looking for. 

  • Street Fighter vs Tekken. I got schooled, and hard. Not sure whether the special moves were different, but Ibuki didn't feel like her usual old self, and it ended badly for my duo. I can't really say I got a fair look at what this game offered from how little I played.
Other things that happened:
 
I finally bought a pair of Udon art books that I've had my eye on for the last three shows. The Street Fighter Tribute and Phoenix Wright Art Book are finally in my possession, and I couldn't be happier.  
 
While waiting for the GiantBomb panel to start, Vidiot and myself stepped into a demonstration of Assassin's Creed: Revelations, which was way more awesome than it had any right to be. Surprise appearances from Ezio's voice actor (saying some things that Ezio would never say) and Toboscus (the writer behind some excellent Assassin's Creed parody songs) made the panel hilarious and well worth while. The creative director was also a hoot, but had some interesting insight (see: potential spoilers) as well. If only those asking questions at the Q and A weren't so bad at asking said questions. 

 
Tomorrow:  

  • Mass Effect 3
  • Marvel vs Capcom 3
  • Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City
  • Batman: Arkham City
  • Halo: Anniversary
  • Spider Man: Shattered Dimensions
  • Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
  • Uncharted 3
  • Lollipop Chainsaw
  • Super Mario 3D Land
  • Vita
 
Please excuse me for the night; if I'm going to play Mass Effect, I've got an early morning ahead of me. 
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Unofficial PAX thread 2011

It's the morning of PAX '11, the sun is peaking over  the trees, and everything feels right with the world. I'm about to embark on my fifth-annual trip to the bestest gamers show in the United States, and possibly the Universe.  
From my limited PAX experience, the show seems to follow a pattern of lulls and highs, and this year is most certainly a high. I'm struggling to keep track of all the amazing games that will be on the show floor today, but I'll try to list as many as I can below anyway.  
 Each day I'll be posting a new blog detailing what I played that day, what impressed me, disappointed me, or surprised me. The lines will be longer than ever, so I'll be sort-of be crossing my fingers, hoping to get to everything. If there's another "Duke Nukem Forever" my whole schedule could be thrown off, but could there possibly be something prepared to knock Duke off of his broad, muscular shoulders? Blasphemy! 
 
THE GAMES: 
Assassin's Creed: Revelations 
Batman: Arkham City 
Mass Effect 3 
Elder Scrolls: Skyrim 
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier 
Rage  
Halo 4/Anniversary
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword 
Counter Strike: GO  
Dead Island
 
In this pre-dawn daze, i'm not thinking of all that's coming out, so if I'm forgetting something major, TELL ME. I'll do my best to get to it. 

ALL HAIL BALL!

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My adventure: The Rally to Restore Sanity

It's official. The tickets are bought and the arrangements are made. I will be spending October 30th in the nation's capital, attending what may be the best rally ever devised by man. The main man Jon Stewart and his VP Stephen Colbert are storming the mall, and I'm invited.  
I waited too long to pick up tickets, but I swear I had a good reason: I needed to get a final date for the Sounders playoff match, which luckily is taking place the next day, allowing me to take part in both. In all, it's going to cost over 600 bucks, but it's going to be an awesome 2-3 days.  

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PAX 2010 Thoughts, Day 3; Or, WHY YOU ALWAYS BET ON DUKE

      I hope you're all grateful... Even getting there early, I ended up waiting in a three-and-a-half hour+ line to finally put my hands on the game named lifetime achiever for Vaporware of the Year.  

Winners 

DUKE NUKEM FOREVER. I myself am shocked to say that this game is flat awesome. It really is. My memories of the Duke from back in the day are few and far-in between  (13 years to be exact), so it's not some misplaced sense of loyalty or reminiscence. This game is as foul, mysognistic, and badass as anything I've ever played. The controls are clean and tight, there's a ton of variety (from driving a Monster Truck to drawing penises on a chalkboard), and it seems that every aspect of the game I saw was some sort of inside joke. It's hugely self-aware, and it works. It looks like a current gen game, despite being developed for hardware two generations old. I'm not a huge fan of first person shooters, so I can't say with 100% certainty that I'll pick it up, but at this point I'd bet on Duke. It's really coming folks, get used to it. 
The best thing about it all is that my one issue with the demo is likely being fixed. The opening scene comes from Duke's perspective as he's taking a break in front of a urinal, using the right trigger to pee. A hilarious way to start things off, but there was a problem; there was no option to aim your stream. I brought this up with the developers at the Gearbox Panel this afternoon, and they sounded very receptive to a fix (if any GBers have video footage of this, please post it!) 
Final Fantasy IV. Sharp readers will be thinking to themselves right now, "hey, Final Fantasy IV wasn't at PAX!" Very true, but go back to that first sentence in this post. I was in a very long line. I needed something to do with myself, other than talk about what a freak I am with Vidiot and Hailinel. So I got a good long look at the game, and have decided it's a solid, visually standout (for a portable) JRPG on the DS. And that's that. For those disappointed that this isn't FF XIV, I'm sorry, but I don't play MMOs. 
MORTAL KOMBAT!!!! Mortal Kombat has never been my choice of fighter. It always felt a little clunky to me, and not all that technical. But I can freely admit that I was impressed with this iteration of the franchise. Things seemed to flow far better than other iterations, and while veterans may cry that they spilled a little SFIV into the game, I think even they will find they like the end product. It is certainly the best-looking game in the franchise. I just wish they would keep the simple fatality combo from the demo (down+Y) 
Super Scribblenauts. Changes were made, and I think anyone would have a hard time finding fault with any of them. Controls can be handled with the D-pad or face buttons now, the vocabulary is even stronger than before, and the addition of adjectives takes it all to another level. Just typing in "Giant" anything was always good for a laugh. And making inanimate objects "Angry". Good times.   
Valkyria Chronicles 2. It's already out, so some of you have undoubtedly bought and played this one through. Regardless, the game really is Valkyria Chronicles, and it looks great on the PSP. Just don't use TV-Remote play for this one. I did at the demo booth, and it looked awful.

Losers

Omegathon Final AKA OMEGACLAW. For the third straight year in a row one competitor has completely run away with the final match. Don't get me wrong, the CLAW was a great idea (though next year, could we go back to video games?) but the guy that went first caught a stuffed animal on his first turn and never picked another one up. His opponent, however, ended up with 6. The contest is in clear need of a bit of balance. Maybe Super Mario Kart next year? (or 3DS Kart? Bring in some 3D screens for the audience? Kick ass?) 
Me. Because of my Duke line, I never jumped in for Epic Mickey, Dead Space, or Kinect, and I apologize for that. In retrospect, I'm not that disappointed; I'd rather see what I did than play any of those games.  
 
Next up. Convention awards and Wrap-up.
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PAX 2010 Thoughts, Day 2

Sorry guys, didn't get to Duke today, but got to nearly everything I promised yesterday, plus some treats.  If you want to know more about any one game, just say so. 
Winners 

  • Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. Everything you've heard about the title is true. This game and its unlikely multi player mode is the real deal. It's a blast to play. Sneaking up on another player and succeeding in the assassination is exhilarating, and it requires legitimate skill both to kill your target and escape from your own pursuer. I'm conflicted; I don't want to buy at full price what feels like DLC, but Ubisoft really did a great job on this. 
  • Sonic 4. It's exactly what you would expect from a Sonic game. In HD. No extra gimmicks or sidekicks. Just Sonic, rings, and speed. 
  • Ghost Trick. Giantbomb did a quicklook of this puzzle game some time ago. Made by the developers of Phoenix Wright, this puzzler-adventure is a breath of fresh air. Also, it's awesome.
  • Marvel Vs Capcom 3. Marvel Vs Capcom 3. 
  • Fallout: New Vegas. Not much has changed from 3, though it looks like you can now gain a reputation with a whole group based on your actions, which is a small but welcome touch. The third person camera also seems to work a tweek better, but all in all it's what we all played three years ago. 
TBD 
  • Halo Reach. It's Halo, with some new weapons. You already know whether you'll buy this or not, and so do I. 
  • Okamiden. It's Okami all right, but on the DS lite I couldn't really tell how good it looked, and I don't really know if I liked the first enough to play a sequel. But if you loved Okami, your money is probably well invested in this title (though it probably fits better on the XL)
  • Playstation Move. I only spent time on one game, that being that fight game that I can't remember the name of for the life of me. For the most part, it looked far better than expectations, though it was made very clear that I wasn't to move my legs around. Also, at one point I was unable to throw a punch with my left arm, despite trying over and over. I'll chalk that up to a fixable glitch or user error. This was obviously the most interesting Move game at the convention, however, and for me to lay down the (ample) cash for this one, it's going to require more software backup.
Losers 
  • Nothing all that awful today
Tomorrow:  
  • Microsoft Kinect
  • Dead Space 2
  • Super Scribblenauts
  • Valkyria Chronicles 2
  • Mortal Kombat
  • Dead Space 2
  • Epic Mickey
  • Omegathon final
  • and of course, Duke Nukem
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PAX 2010 Thoughts, Day 1

In keeping with my schedule from last year, I'm posting my observations from day one of the greatest gift to gamers  

Winners 

  • Golden Sun DS. The 7 year drought is ending finally, and based on my hands on observations it will be utterly fantastic. The battle system is just how I remember it and the attacks are flashy and awesome. 
  • Vanquish. The latest outing from Platinum Games looks to continue a pedigree of excellence. I don't know how they do it, but PG seems to take a new genre with each outing and make it their own. Vanquish has a unique look and feel, and really puts the player in the action in a way I've never felt from Gears of War (likely its closest cousin).
  • Duke Nukem Forever. I didn't get around to playing it today (that will come tomorrow) but just the fact that it is finally coming is a win in and of itself. The booth surrounding it was hilarious. This is my first priority.
  • Goldeneye 007. believe it. This game is legitimately fun. It definitely feels like Goldeneye (right down to the grainy graphics, which the rep chalked up to an early build). Activision inexplicably captured the magic of the original in this re-imagining. Multiplayer was tight and intense, and brought back memories of playing against friends on the couch. (A side note: I fully believe that the new XBOX controller is now the de-facto gaming controller available, but the Classic Controller Pro is REALLY nice.)
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns. A few gimmicks to be seen, but this is definitely Donkey Kong, and co-op is a blast. 
  • Giantbomb Panel. Topped last year's half beard shenanigans and was certainly the best panel I went to on the day. 
  • Vidiot. Good to meet a fellow GB'er. Remember, as a federal agent of dance, I cannot have my face shown :P

Losers 

  • Final Fantasy: Four Warriors of Light. I appreciate the style that was injected into the Final Fantasy III and IV remakes, but the team doesn't look like it even tried when it was making the models for this game. The characters look like... I honestly can't think of a thing they DO look like. They definitely don't look human. That aside, the combat is bare-bones, and I can't see the game appealing to anyone save for the hardest of the hardcore FF fans. 
  • Tron. The bike battles were fun, but they were only a piece of the game, and the platforming was imprecise and generally awful. Here's hoping the team figures that out before launch day. 
  • Overall selection. Despite the huge exhibition hall this year, it seems like there are fewer games I have an interest in picking up this year. Fewer original properties (last year there was Borderlands, The Saboteur, Brutal Legend, Split Second, Heavy Rain, Bayonetta, White Knight Chronicles... you get the picture. Most of what is available is something that we already have a pretty good idea about.)
 

Tomorrow:  

  • Duke Nukem Forever
  • Sonic 4 Episode 1
  • Okamiden
  • Marvel Vs Capcom 3
  • Ghost Trick
  • Dead Space 2
  • Epic Mickey

Sunday: 

  • Fallout: New Vegas
  • Halo: Reach
  • Gears of War 3
  • Playstation Move
  • Microsoft Kinect
  • Valkyria Chronicles 2
  • Yakuza 4
  • Other???
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Unofficial PAX thread 2010

         

It's that time of the year again:Leaves begin to fall off trees, the release schedule becomes a little more cramped, and Penny Arcade Expo is right around the corner. In 2009, the big deals on the show floor were Dragon Age, Mass Effect 2, and Borderlands. In 2010, however, things are looking quite a bit different.  
Fallout 3 was a huge draw when it hit the show floor a few years ago, and I fully expect lines for New Vegas to be the longest of the convention  
Could the 3DS make an appearance? I'm crossing my fingers. 
Halo Reach will draw some crowds 
Zelda: Skyward Sword is a pretty good bet.  
Castlevania: Lords of Shadow will get its first public lambasting :P 
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier will be a big draw as well.

My pass and invitation came in the mail today. 

 

PAX USER GUIDE

For convenience sake I'm posting an updated version of my handy dandy PAX travel guide from 2009. I'll see all of you at the Giantbomb Panel! 
Purchasing Tickets:
PennyArcadeExpo.com
Note that there is a cap on attendence this year. Despite increased capacity (the main theater and other pieces have been moved off-site.)
 
Schedule: 
Since the thing is so gigantic this year, instead of posting the image on the thread itself I'm just going to supply a link

Travel: 
Seattle's major airport is Sea-Tac International. and it is well organized with very clear directions. It's about 20-30 minutes out of downtown. 
Seattle has finally gotten with the times and added a Light Rail system. To get to the expo from the airport, you want to find the airport Light Rail station and from there ride the train all the way to the other end (takes about 35 minutes). From there, you want to walk south (or in the direction the train came from) one block, and on your left a few blocks down should be a large glass ledge about 10 stories above the street. Go towards that, because that is the convention center. It should look something like this: 
 Washington State convention center+Gameworks Arcade
 
Because of this available transportation alternative, no one attending from out of state should need to rent a car. Either stay at one of the hotels downtown or near the airport. 
 
Stuff TO DO:

Game Rooms: rent a game for about thirty minutes at a time, to play by yourself, with friends or with complete strangers! Don't worry about the game you want to play being there. It will be.
Handheld lounge: Sit in the most comfortable chairs you've ever been unable to get yourself out of and play your choice DS or PSP game with the rest of the loungers. This includes scheduled tournaments for select games like Pokemon, Elite Beat Agents, Dissidia, Mario Kart, and MORE!
Concerts: Check out the concert list below for all your awesome nerd music needs!
Booths: Grab free swag and demo the latest games from all your favorite companies. Couldn't make it to E3? This is the next best thing! A few years ago they had Fallout 3 demoing, and they gave out Vault Boy Puppets! 
Panels: Watch Gabe and Tycho make one of their comic strips, Listen to one of your favorite developers talk about their work, or just goof off with the members of Red VS Blue!
Shopping: Buy Penny Arcade swag, or visit one of the many other various retailers, like Pink Godzilla, which sells retro and import games.
Omegathon: A 20 player tournament that lasts all three days of the competition, ending in an undisclosed game matchup. Two years ago, the final game was Halo 3 (yes, before it even came out to retail), and last year, the final game was Excitebike. The grand prize last year was all expenses payed trip to the Tokyo Game Show!
Keynote: No matter who the speaker is, it's always funny and always enjoyable. This year it'll be Warren Spector
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Starters for inaugural PS3 season selected

As any gamer worth his salt on GB knows, I gave in a few weeks ago and finally picked up a Playstation 3. But, at the time, I didn't buy any games. That changed today, when I took advantage of Gamestop's buy two get one free deal and picked up the 5 games that convinced me to buy the console in the first place.  

Personal PS3 Collections


 (left on my PS3 wishlist are Demon's Souls, White knight Chronicles, FFXIII, and maybe Heavenly Sword.)
    
1. Valkyria Chronicles

This is the game I wanted most for the PS3. The unique style, combined with the unique gameplay mechanics, made the package incredibly appealing. In retrospect, I probably should have bought this one new in order to support the studio that made it (the game didn't sell well) but either way I'm happy I've got it. This will be the first game I actually play.

2. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

This is the first game that I really wanted for the PS3, and for a long time it was the only one. I've always been interested in the plight of Solid Snake, and will get to this as soon as I play 2 and 3.

3. Heavy Rain

I am in the process of playing Indigo Prophecy at this moment. As soon as I saw this game at PAX 09 last year, I knew I wanted this game. I was initially skeptical when the game was first announced, because all the focus was on the graphical prowess, making the term "uncanny valley" a term frequently connected with the current gen. Over time, the game lost the creepy realism, but more of the game play was revealed, and thats when I became more interested.

4. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

I'm pretty much buying this because it comes before Uncharted 2, and I don't play narrative-based series out of order.

5. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Theres really not much that needs to be said here, since U2 is easily the highest rated game on the console. I didn't enjoy what I played of the demo at PAX (too much Assassins Creed climbing for my taste) but with all the critical praise the game has received, I'm willing to give it a second chance.

6. inFamous

This was almost a throw-in. When the game was initially announced I was pretty interested in the idea of an electric super anti-hero. Almost like the Static Shock game that doesn't exist yet, but should. But when I saw videos of the game, I realized that it was essentially another third person shooter. In fact, nearly all of these games are third person shooters. And this fact was one that turned me off of the PS3 library for a long while (in conjunction with a number of other things).

         
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Guess who's rocking a PS3 now!


Future purchase number one 
It was going to happen eventually. I've known for over a year now that eventually, I'd be forced to break down and buy a PS3. The timing is nothing but coincidence; nothing at E3 swayed me to buy one. In fact, it's really Nintendo's fault that I bought one, and not for the reason you're probably thinking.  
I stopped into the local games store today to pick up Sin and Punishment 2. It was one of the last games left on my "Buy Next List", a list that encompasses all the games I want currently available for the consoles that I own (along with Silent Hill 2 and 3, Fatal Frame IV, and as of tomorrow, Valkyria Chronicles 2). I figured I'd be going in to buy one or two games at most and be walking out with an overall good day. But just by chance, I started asking the clerk if he had some stuff I really didn't expect him to have. First I asked if he had gotten Valkyria Chronicles 2 in early. That was a negatory. Then I asked about a Street Fighter IV fight pad. He had one, but it was Sagat. Then, because I've been looking for one for a while, I asked if he had a backwards compatible PS3, not really expecting a yes. To my surprise, the answer was a good one. 350 bucks for the assurance of a working console without having to hassle with Ebay sure seemed like a really good deal, especially since my PS2 had been camping out at a friends house for the better part of a year (and will probably stay there now).  
 The first game to call my PS3 home
The backwards compatible part was the most important for me. I have a sizable backlog of PS2 games that I haven't even touched yet, and was without a console to play them on. And who wants to have four consoles to switch between? Not this guy. 
So right now, I'm a PS3 owner with no PS3 games. That will likely change come next paycheck, but until then, I've got plenty to get through on it. Metal Gears, Personas, Final Fantasies, Devil May Cries, Xenosagas, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, and a bunch of other random RPGs and Fighters. Not to mention my PS1 backlog.  
But as for what I'll be picking up for the PS3 in the coming months, here's my list. I've looked very carefully at each of the games available, and have a pretty good understanding of what I will be interested in.  
  • Valkyria Chronicles
  • Heavy Rain
  • Metal Gear Solid 4
  • Final Fantasy XIII
  • White Knight Chronicles
  • Infamous
  • Sly Cooper Collection
  • Uncharted/Uncharted2
You're more than welcome to recommend more, but it truly was hard for me to come up with games I wanted beyond the first 3. 
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