By Hailinel 10 Comments
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!
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.
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.
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!
- Ace Attorney series art book
- Udon Street Fighter Sakura comic
- An Aerith figure
- Tetris for the NES
- Kung Fu for the NES
- Kabuki Quantum Fighter for the NES
- Wizardry for the NES (HOLY FUCK THERE IS A VERSION OF WIZARDRY FOR THE NES I HAD NO IDEA THIS EXISTED.)
- El Shaddai T-Shirt
- Rage T-Shirt
Day 2 Complete!
And now I'm going to ice my feet down.