By Dalai 10 Comments
So how 'bout that PAX East?
Being my first ever video game convention, I wasn't sure what to expect from PAX. I've all heard many of the horrors of PAX ranging from massive lines for demos and cramped spaces to potential malnourishment and dehydration to the flu/pox/plague. With the exception of the illness, that was mostly true. However, the true PAX experience is about playing video games and talking to people who passionately love video games. I was really glad to spend some time playing several games during the convention, but was even more glad to meet several developers and gamers (many of them from the Giant Bomb community) just to talk about... anything, really.
But enough with the intro, let's start with the games.
I was sucked into the Lang Zone, guys. This might sound like a bad thing to the uninformed, but the Lang Zone is a fantastic place where people love to dive, kick, divekick and occasionally jump. I was able to play Divekick on a number of occasions throughout PAX and I think I lost every battle. I don't really care about that because I couldn't stop laughing or smiling or thinking about how brilliantly dumb this game is. And even though I sucked at Divekick, it could be the only fighting game I might be able to master at some point. Besides the goofy characters and wacky antics, Divekick excels at being a fun and surprisingly complex fighter despite having only two buttons at your disposal. It's a fighting game without filler and that's a beautiful thing.
Remember Me was the only "AAA" game I actually played during PAX and the only "AAA" game I wanted to try out since the style and action looked pretty cool. After a lengthy demo, I was actually impressed with Remember Me in many ways. It's almost like a 3rd person Mirror's Edge with splashes of Deus Ex and Uncharted thrown in for flavor. It's technically impressive and the action can be intense, but if I have one criticism, the combat was simplistic in the demo. Hopefully the combos aren't just hitting X until you're blue in the face in the finished product.
I've never played a Saint Row game before, but I appreciate the absurdity that they strive for every few years. This year looks like they've gone for something more subtle. You see, you play as the President of the United States with superpowers fighting aliens. If that doesn't sell you on the game, you can also kill with dubstep, just like in real life. Even if I don't ever play Saints Row IV, its existence is a wonderful thing. Thanks, Deep Silver.
I made a beeline for the Nintendo booth on the morning of PAX on day 1 so I was able to play The Wonderful 101 fairly early with little wait. And while the Nintendo booth was disappointing overall, The Wonderful 101 was the main bright spot at the booth. Platinum Games did a wonderful job (no pun intended) on the art direction and action in this game. There's a Viewtiful Joe vibe I get while playing it, and I really liked Viewtiful Joe.
Some of the others include:
- Contrast - Lost in Shadow meets Bioshock.
- Ridiculous Fishing - A Tale of Redemption - Bought the game during PAX, was my go-to portable game while waiting in line.
- Guacamelee! - You can turn into a chicken so that's pretty awesome.
- Soda Drinker Pro - I am confused about why this is a game, but I wanna see more.
- Dropchord - Weird IR game you control with two fingers. It was alright.
- Charlie Murder - Standard beat 'em up. Kinda meh.
- Watch_Dogs - Two videos, nothing crazy or new, but informative, I guess.
If that wasn't enough, here are all the tabletop games I played while at PAX.
Oh, the panels! PAX isn't just about games. It's about people talking about games. Here are some panels I went to where they talked about games.
The Giant Bomb one
I've seen Giant Bomb panels on the website, but seeing it's nothing compared to seeing them live. Yes, they were hilarious. Yes, breast milk was consumed. Yes, many of the questions were dumb. And yes, I love mariachi bands. You can see part one of the panel right now to see the circus for yourself so I won't delve into details. I will comment on the pre-game show where our group started the official start of the line for the panel. Then, a game of Spaceteam broke out with me, @mattbodega, @epicsteve and @voxel during the lengthy wait in line. Yes, Kessler sold me on Spaceteam. Yes, Spaceteam is awesome. After the panel, it was the casual meet and greet with the Giant Bomb staff. It shouldn't come as a surprise, but they're all very approachable and easy to talk to. They all seem like a group of awesome guys who love their craft and are willing to share their love of games with anybody, even the nervous and awkward like me.
The other one with Ryan Davis
The 404ing it: Breaking (Down) the Internet panel had its moments, mostly Ryan Davis being Ryan Davis. It couldn't top the Giant Bomb panel in terms of hilarity and it was just a bunch of stupid internet shit like Heather O'Rourke tribute videos and AYDS, but I laughed at Ryan's hijinks. So mission accomplished.
The other one with Jeff Gerstmann and Ryan Davis
People love Cards Against Humanity. I think it's because we hate humanity or maybe the card game that makes you feel dirty is actually fun to play. The majority of the panel consisted of user submissions and most of them were... good? There were a few gems and very few shitty submissions.
After the panel, I can say I am a proud(?) owner of CAH and the PAX packs which I will never use because inside jokes. The only regret was not getting able to play the game amongst the people I met.
The one with Randy Pitchford
The Gearbox panel was about 50 minutes of Borderlands 2 talk with about 5 minutes of awkward Aliens: Colonial Marines apologies in between. Randy Pitchford did some magic tricks before the show officially began and then some Borderlands 2 magic. The group of Gearbox panelists introduced us to increased level caps, a new playable character, a teaser to the 4th DLC pack and telling us how they're fixing the Aliens game they may or may not have worked on. Overall, the panel was neat and they seemed really sorry about Aliens seeing how they gave away so much shit like hats, the Psycho character pack and even some loot boxes.
They were really sorry for Aliens.
The Stuff Not PAX-related
Video games are great and all, but I just can't spend my entire trip in a convention center in the middle of nowhere. That's why I spent some time actually seeing the rest of the city. Thursday was my alone time as I did a power tour of Boston. If you have an extra day to waste and want to see some history, walk the Freedom Trail. It cuts right through downtown Boston and it's odd to see skyscrapers mixed with 18th century buildings and 300 year old burial grounds. But a word of advice for those willing to walk as far as Bunker Hill Monument, don't climb the monument after walking for several hours. The view from the top is nice, but fuck the 300 steps.
Speaking of walking, just walking around the city was one of my highlights of the trip. One of the best/worst parts of Boston is the layout. I've been in large cities before like Philadelphia and New York, but they had urban planners laying out the city. Boston is a clusterfuck of roads going in all directions without any order whatsoever. The best way to see Boston is from the ground just getting lost downtown or in the North End just getting immersed in the city's architecture and vibe. Seriously, Boston is a beautiful city with lots of friendly people (some with that famous Boston accent) and excellent food and I would love to visit the city in the summer when Boston Common is actually green and the wind doesn't destroy my face.
I never did get to visit every place I wanted to during my stay in Boston, but there's always next time... if I return to PAX East.
I'll keep it short and simple since I'm now way past the TL;DR stage, but the users I got to meet at PAX were all friendly and not at all representative of the typical dicks we associate with the internet. I spent much of the 3-day event hanging out with several people from the community from charming Englishmen to moderators who keep people like myself from ruining Giant Bomb for everybody else. I could have easily spent PAX by my lonesome playing several sessions of Divekick with random strangers, but that's not the ideal PAX experience.
Time to end this thing already.
So in conclusion, if you get an opportunity to go to PAX whether it's in Boston, Seattle, Australia or wherever, go and have a great time like I did. Go play some amazing and unusual games you never thought you'd like. Talk to developers about anything from getting in the business to what that giant yellow button does. See the town for yourself just to get away from the PAX madness. Eat awesome food, but don't eat at the convention center. Don't be afraid to talk to random strangers, unless they're dressed in League of Legends cosplay. I still know nothing about League of Legends. Get lost among the indie games. Take lots of pictures. Avoid tabletop games if you know nothing about them. Don't drive anywhere in Boston. Take the T. Walk if you can. Find the Lang Zone and divekick in. Drink a Double Gulp. Spaceteam. Ask Ryan Davis if that really was breast milk he drank. Bring Yuengling because it's nowhere to be found in Boston.
I'm done. It's been a great PAX and I would love to go back next year.