PAX Prime 2011: Day 2 Recap

Day 2 of PAX Prime 2011 has come and gone, and I spent almost the entirety of it on the show floor taking in exhibits. It was a very busy day in which I spent almost all of my time on my feet, and as a result, they are currently very sore and probably will be until sometime next Thursday. And then there's still Day 3 tomorrow. But anyway, on to the sights of the show!

Jurassic Park

My first stop of the day was the Telltale Games booth, where they were showing off a demo of Jurassic Park. The demo I played was incredibly short compared to demos for other games I had already seen. It consisted of me guiding my character in his escape from a pair of raptors. You might have heard comparisons made to Heavy Rain. These comparisons are not inaccurate, as the escape was, in essence, an extensive, multi-part quick time event. One in which screwing up at multiple points would result in instant death. The sequence wasn't that complicated to complete, but it also wasn't a very flattering demo. I like that Telltale is branching out from their comfort zone, but so far, this feels like it might be a misstep.

The Darkness II

I never played The Darkness, but I got into the line for The Darkness II pretty early on and had a lot of fun with it. The demo consisted of what I presume to be the earliest portions of the game, establishing how Jackie had been captured by the villain in a sequence of playable flashbacks. It starts of with simple gunplay, and then things get completely bonkers when the Darkness comes into play. Slashing, grabbing, and all-out murdering guys with dark energy tentacles plus gunplay plus some very intriguing set pieces make this game look like a potential winner.

XCOM

So this wasn't an XCOM booth per se. There was no footage of the game, and no mention of the game was made. Rather, it was an elaborate LARP in which attendees that lined up were interrogated by the anti-alien force comprised of people that looked like they had been ripped right out of the 1960s. It was pretty crazy, as a number of people in line were accused of being Communists. I was led into a room that looked like a doctor's office and asked to examine an x-ray on the wall that was most certainly not of human origin, given a Rorschach test, asked if anyone I know is a Communist, and then welcomed to the team, where I was then led to another room where I received an ID card.

But yeah, that was XCOM. The only other sign of the game at the show was near the skybridge, where a small exhibit featuring a mannequin getting attacked by alien tentacle things was displayed with the big XCOM logo on the wall behind it.

Rage

After trying and failing to get into the line for Skyrim (it was so packed that a PAX Enforcer had capped the line), I got in line to see Rage instead. It took an hour to get through the line, but it was worth it. I got a lengthy taste of the start of the game and played through a few missions. It's very well done; it's obvious that the team at Id has been working on Rage for quite some time, though it's still strange to think of the developer paying as much attention to the story as they are, given that this is the same studio at which John Carmack fired an employee for trying to give Doom anything resembling a complex narrative.

But I digress. The game is a lot of fun. Or at least I assume so, by the time my demo time was over, I just wanted to keep playing. Comparisons to Borderlands are unavoidable, what with the large world, the focus on vehicles, and numerous other points. Even one of the Id reps at the booth made a crack about the game being a Borderlands that takes itself seriously. There are also certain bits that are unavoidable to compare to Fallout 3; in particular, the post-apocalyptic setting, and when you first awaken from the cryogenic sleep chamber and see the bright sun-glare effect as you step outside for the first time in ages.

But, as derivative as the game is, it's not necessarily a bad thing. I've only seen a small portion of Rage, but in that small portion, the gameplay and presentation both felt top-notch. And the enemies in the early going are amazing in their AI. Melee characters with knifes are agile and prove to be a threat even when you're armed with a gun. They take cover when grenades are thrown or bullets come their way, and fighting them in groups could become really tense as a melee fighter or two would come charging at me as he received supporting fire from his allies. It's just a really cool thing to see.

Mario Kart 7

I actually played Mario Kart 7 on Day 1, but I forgot to mention it. Which is a shame, because my experience with it was mind-bending. That the old rule of falling into water and getting fished out has been thrown out in favor of your car becoming a submarine capable of driving along the water's bed is enough to make things feel decidedly different from past Mario Karts. Add in the hang-glider, and things get even more bizarre. This isn't like Diddy Kong Racing, where you used either a kart or a plane; this is a game where you will switch between all three modes in rapid succession. Yes, the game is still Mario Kart, but there's never been a Mario Kart quite like this one.

Super Mario 3D Land

This game's title is just a tad ridiculous. But beyond that, it's Mario, through and through. And as for complaints about Mario's movement speed that you might have heard? X is actually the run button in this game. Also, the Tanooki Suit is back, and it's awesome, save for the fact that turning into a statue is no longer an option. The 3D works really well, and the way that the game meshes old 2D Mario gameplay (shrinking on getting hit, hitting the flagpole at the stage's end) with more modern Mario gameplay makes it an interesting mix.

It was about this point that I met up with AgentJ and vidiot and spent the rest of the evening chatting with them as we spent way too long looking for a place that wasn't too crowded to grab a bite, and then way too long waiting for our food to be served.

And as the day was long and full of activity, I am about wiped and will have to cut my recap of the show floor there. I did mention all of the biggest stuff I saw at the show today, so don't worry, I didn't leave anything out. But before I go:

It's Swag Recap Time!

Stuff bought:

Stuff given:

Day 2 Complete!

And now I'm going to ice my feet down.

9 Comments
10 Comments
Posted by Hailinel

Day 2 of PAX Prime 2011 has come and gone, and I spent almost the entirety of it on the show floor taking in exhibits. It was a very busy day in which I spent almost all of my time on my feet, and as a result, they are currently very sore and probably will be until sometime next Thursday. And then there's still Day 3 tomorrow. But anyway, on to the sights of the show!

Jurassic Park

My first stop of the day was the Telltale Games booth, where they were showing off a demo of Jurassic Park. The demo I played was incredibly short compared to demos for other games I had already seen. It consisted of me guiding my character in his escape from a pair of raptors. You might have heard comparisons made to Heavy Rain. These comparisons are not inaccurate, as the escape was, in essence, an extensive, multi-part quick time event. One in which screwing up at multiple points would result in instant death. The sequence wasn't that complicated to complete, but it also wasn't a very flattering demo. I like that Telltale is branching out from their comfort zone, but so far, this feels like it might be a misstep.

The Darkness II

I never played The Darkness, but I got into the line for The Darkness II pretty early on and had a lot of fun with it. The demo consisted of what I presume to be the earliest portions of the game, establishing how Jackie had been captured by the villain in a sequence of playable flashbacks. It starts of with simple gunplay, and then things get completely bonkers when the Darkness comes into play. Slashing, grabbing, and all-out murdering guys with dark energy tentacles plus gunplay plus some very intriguing set pieces make this game look like a potential winner.

XCOM

So this wasn't an XCOM booth per se. There was no footage of the game, and no mention of the game was made. Rather, it was an elaborate LARP in which attendees that lined up were interrogated by the anti-alien force comprised of people that looked like they had been ripped right out of the 1960s. It was pretty crazy, as a number of people in line were accused of being Communists. I was led into a room that looked like a doctor's office and asked to examine an x-ray on the wall that was most certainly not of human origin, given a Rorschach test, asked if anyone I know is a Communist, and then welcomed to the team, where I was then led to another room where I received an ID card.

But yeah, that was XCOM. The only other sign of the game at the show was near the skybridge, where a small exhibit featuring a mannequin getting attacked by alien tentacle things was displayed with the big XCOM logo on the wall behind it.

Rage

After trying and failing to get into the line for Skyrim (it was so packed that a PAX Enforcer had capped the line), I got in line to see Rage instead. It took an hour to get through the line, but it was worth it. I got a lengthy taste of the start of the game and played through a few missions. It's very well done; it's obvious that the team at Id has been working on Rage for quite some time, though it's still strange to think of the developer paying as much attention to the story as they are, given that this is the same studio at which John Carmack fired an employee for trying to give Doom anything resembling a complex narrative.

But I digress. The game is a lot of fun. Or at least I assume so, by the time my demo time was over, I just wanted to keep playing. Comparisons to Borderlands are unavoidable, what with the large world, the focus on vehicles, and numerous other points. Even one of the Id reps at the booth made a crack about the game being a Borderlands that takes itself seriously. There are also certain bits that are unavoidable to compare to Fallout 3; in particular, the post-apocalyptic setting, and when you first awaken from the cryogenic sleep chamber and see the bright sun-glare effect as you step outside for the first time in ages.

But, as derivative as the game is, it's not necessarily a bad thing. I've only seen a small portion of Rage, but in that small portion, the gameplay and presentation both felt top-notch. And the enemies in the early going are amazing in their AI. Melee characters with knifes are agile and prove to be a threat even when you're armed with a gun. They take cover when grenades are thrown or bullets come their way, and fighting them in groups could become really tense as a melee fighter or two would come charging at me as he received supporting fire from his allies. It's just a really cool thing to see.

Mario Kart 7

I actually played Mario Kart 7 on Day 1, but I forgot to mention it. Which is a shame, because my experience with it was mind-bending. That the old rule of falling into water and getting fished out has been thrown out in favor of your car becoming a submarine capable of driving along the water's bed is enough to make things feel decidedly different from past Mario Karts. Add in the hang-glider, and things get even more bizarre. This isn't like Diddy Kong Racing, where you used either a kart or a plane; this is a game where you will switch between all three modes in rapid succession. Yes, the game is still Mario Kart, but there's never been a Mario Kart quite like this one.

Super Mario 3D Land

This game's title is just a tad ridiculous. But beyond that, it's Mario, through and through. And as for complaints about Mario's movement speed that you might have heard? X is actually the run button in this game. Also, the Tanooki Suit is back, and it's awesome, save for the fact that turning into a statue is no longer an option. The 3D works really well, and the way that the game meshes old 2D Mario gameplay (shrinking on getting hit, hitting the flagpole at the stage's end) with more modern Mario gameplay makes it an interesting mix.

It was about this point that I met up with AgentJ and vidiot and spent the rest of the evening chatting with them as we spent way too long looking for a place that wasn't too crowded to grab a bite, and then way too long waiting for our food to be served.

And as the day was long and full of activity, I am about wiped and will have to cut my recap of the show floor there. I did mention all of the biggest stuff I saw at the show today, so don't worry, I didn't leave anything out. But before I go:

It's Swag Recap Time!

Stuff bought:

Stuff given:

Day 2 Complete!

And now I'm going to ice my feet down.

Posted by ahoodedfigure

Good to see that Rage made a positive impression. I guess some people may miss it just because it looks too much by what's gone before but I guess my love of all things Wasteland helped let me see past that.  From what I've seen so far it's all about the feel and the look that sets it apart. I've heard different stuff about the AI, but as long as it's not too easily predictable, it's OK by me.
 
For all his accomplishments, Carmack annoys me. I hope that anecdote is apocryphal. I'm cool with his tech advances, but his kind of peanut butter has no business being in my kind of chocolate.
 
Rage is definitely one of the games I've got my sights on, even though I'm not even sure my eventual PC will be able to play it properly.

Posted by Video_Game_King

COMMUNIST! (Also, why is NES Wizardry a big thing?)

Posted by Hailinel

@Video_Game_King said:

COMMUNIST! (Also, why is NES Wizardry a big thing?)

Because I had no idea that a version of Wizardry even existed for the system at all.

@ahoodedfigure said:

Good to see that Rage made a positive impression. I guess some people may miss it just because it looks too much by what's gone before but I guess my love of all things Wasteland helped let me see past that. From what I've seen so far it's all about the feel and the look that sets it apart. I've heard different stuff about the AI, but as long as it's not too easily predictable, it's OK by me. For all his accomplishments, Carmack annoys me. I hope that anecdote is apocryphal. I'm cool with his tech advances, but his kind of peanut butter has no business being in my kind of chocolate. Rage is definitely one of the games I've got my sights on, even though I'm not even sure my eventual PC will be able to play it properly.

As I understand it, the anecdote is true, which is a real shame. Carmack's attitude aside, Rage is definitely looking good. I just hope it has enough that sets it apart from other games.

Posted by Video_Game_King
@Hailinel
 
Really? Then allow me to blow your mind even more. In bullet form!
 
  1. There's an SNES compilation of the first 3 Wizardrys.
  2. It was only released in Japan...
  3. ...but with an (incomplete) option to translate it into English.
  4. Some group of people decided to spend their time translating this (kinda) already translated game into English.
Oh, and I like how you didn't deny my claim that you're a communist :P.
Posted by RE_Player1

Very cool stuff. So when you are underwater in Mario Kart 7, I hope they keep that name, does it handle any differently?

Posted by Afroman269

Good to hear that the Mario game is good. I don't know why people were saying it may not be so great when it was shown at E3. That's another game I can finally get for my 3DS.

Posted by niamahai

so generally, PAX is more enjoyable/approachable compare to E3?

Posted by Hailinel

@RE_Player92 said:

Very cool stuff. So when you are underwater in Mario Kart 7, I hope they keep that name, does it handle any differently?

It does, definitely, though the difference isn't so great that it requires big adjustment.

@Afroman269 said:

Good to hear that the Mario game is good. I don't know why people were saying it may not be so great when it was shown at E3. That's another game I can finally get for my 3DS.

I'm not sure why people were down on it, either. If I recall right, Brad was complaining about Mario's movement speed. I guess he didn't realize that there's a run button. (To be fair, who would guess that "run" would be X?)

@niamahai said:

so generally, PAX is more enjoyable/approachable compare to E3?

Yep. There's a big press presence at PAX, but it's for the fans first and foremost.

Posted by ahoodedfigure

I mean, I like Doom. It probably could have used a bit more justification for some of its environmental choices, but that game was all about feel. I still like it after all this time (Doom 2 takes a while to get going, but the original maps are all classic). So perhaps it was right not to emphasize story any more than it did, but firing a guy sounds like grandstanding, unless there was more going on than that.  I do think, though, that the player ability to fill in the blanks on a story is underestimated. I don't like games that spell everything out as much as ones that give us a bit of credit and let us imagine what happened in places, sort of like how the original Star Wars had us wondering what was around the corners.
 
His strange statement about procedural generation is bugging me too. Sure, it's a bad way to compress things compared to other methods, but damn it, that's no the point with procedural generation. Kkrieger stuff aside (meaning it takes up a very small space even though it's slow to actualize), it's great when it is creating something that no one has seen. I don't think people are using it right if it's just associated with random garbage and not a believable if not-previously-known configuration, and I think people get stuck on this false dichotomy of computer-made vs. user-made content (it's all user made content, we just use different tools). We still set the rules for stuff like procedural generation; it seems wasteful to totally disregard a tool in the toolbox just because it doesn't fit our particular nerdy obsessions.