New York Videogame Critics Circle NYC Wii U Event

Hey gang,

First off, the NYVCC is a group of journalists within the games industry, from all kinds of publications and backgrounds, who reside in New York. There are only a few of us on the east coast, so Harold Goldberg - founder of the NYVCC - wanted to bring everyone together to bolster east coast games journalism and bring everyone together for meetings, events, fan hang outs and more.

At the Nintendo Wii U Preview event in NYC, on September 13th, Harold Goldberg and I interviewed fellow members of The Circle to get their thoughts and opinions. Interviewees include Giantbomb's very own Alex Navarro, AOL's Libe Goad, Cnet's Dan Ackerman, Gamasutra's Leigh Alexander,'s Charles Herold, and Polygon's Chris Plante.

Just wanted to throw this out there, in case you guys wanted to get some more insight and reactions to the event.

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PAX East

PAX East 2012 in the books!

My second PAX was everything I expected it to be. The weekend was a great combination of games, events, trains, buses, sleep deprivation, panels, drinks, and pictures. The whole trip seemed to move in slow motion and fly by at the same time, if that makes any sense. I saw a lot of great stuff on the show floor, (which was a little bigger than last year) met some cool people and even got to hang around a bit with the Giantbomb crew as well as Mike and Jerry. I took a pretty solid pic of Mike and Jerry that I am particularly proud of. I'll throw some pics on here but check out my blog for all of my pics from the show. Jordan Mechner gave a nice keynote to kick off the weekend, he seemed a bit nervous at first but slowly loosened up a bit. He had a few subtle and dry, but humorous and quick witted remarks in his speech and in response to some questions, that gave some insight to his more casual and relaxed side. I wouldn't mind grabbing a beer with him.

Driving games were essentially non existent this year, but Chevy did have there own booth, along with a couple extra efforts for PAX:

I did get to check out a ton of games, both hands-on and off, and even still missed a good chunk of them. Here's my run down:

Borderlands 2

I was a big fan of the first one. A little disappointed by the lack of gun customization that I was inexplicably expecting, but got over that pretty quick. The game was a blast to play with friends and the always enticing better loot added to the addiction, but the game wasn't without its flaws. The sequel aims to build upon what made the first game a blockbuster, and address the cracks in the wall. The first thing that stands out to me as I start my 15 min or so hands-on demo, is the improved UI and frame rate. The signature art style looks slick and the gameplay seems to run much smoother. The UI is cleaned up a presented in the similar vein of Dead Space.

The Gunzerker and the Siren classes were the only choices for the demo. I chose Maya the siren to see how she differs from Lilith in the first game. There was a lot of negative criticism regarding Lilth's character power in the first game. Gearbox listened. Maya's Phaselock power traps and suspends enemies in the air, halting any attacks and leaving them vulnerable. Passive abilities can be added to her Phaselock such as rewarding a player for killing an enemy in Phaselock, or eventually recruiting them to fight alongside Maya and friends. I enjoyed my time with the game and really look forward to when it releases in September. I can easily see people spending over 100 hours into this. And yes, there were more guns.

Spec Ops: The Line

Another hands-on demo, a pretty long one too. The game looks great, the sand effects most notably. The environment was always one Yager Development and 2K's main bullet points, giving players combat options to break a window and smother enemies in an avalanche of sand, and the like. For the most part the combat is pretty solid, straight forward 3rd person cover based shooter. Some of the cover mechanics feel a bit wonky though. On several occasions I had issues running into cover or trying to snap into cover. There was something off with knowing how far away cover is, and when your character is close enough to get into cover. This caused some problems. The lack of a roll was increasingly an issue when getting shot at as well Otherwise the game looks like it could have some promise. The AI seemed pretty competent, and he voice acting was solid (Nolan North will do that.) Even the story seems like it could be interesting; It's not your typical "the Russians/Chinese are attacking!" action story line. This is set up to be more about betrayal, rogue agents, and government cover ups. It has some potential

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

I was more of a Laser Squad man (or kid) myself, but XCOM pretty much the granddaddy of that specific strategy genre and the upcoming title looks to be just as great. Visually, the game looks nice and smooth. Nothing mind blowing but the nice almost cartoonish or cell shady looking art style is a good fit, with a decent range of prominent colors. Firaxis is keeping everything that made the original great, while adding some necessary modern tweaks. They are very focused on the relationship between the player and the squad members. Naming squadmembers, a fairly deep looking customization system, and perma death should help out in that player thinking twice before purposely sending "Mom" the assault trooper to her death. Or just the opposite, people deal with things in different ways. The classes all seem unique and valuable, so you won't just load up a team of 4 heavys and call it a day. The destructible walls play a big part in creating a unique experience for each player and play through, there are at least a half dozen different ways to tackle any obstacle or encounter. There are apparently so many different maps created, that it is impossible to see each one within two full playthroughs, so that shouldn't hurt replay value either. Any turn based strategy shooter fan should keep an on eye on this one. I briefly spoke to Jerry about it as well. He has no idea it was even on the show floor, his eye lit up when I mentioned it. That's always a good sign in my book.

Those are a few of the games I had the most time or exposure to, but there were plenty more on the floor that I watched or briefly played. Time for a lightning round!

Civilization V: Gods & Kings - Upcoming expansion. Adds religion system, fixes econmy, adds deeper combat and political options. 30 min demonstration has me pretty interested in this.

Deadlight - 2D puzzle platformer along the lines of Out of This World (Another World for anyone outside North America) made by one guy. This really looks fantastic. The art, lighting, gameplay and animation all look so good that you would never guess this was a solo project at first glance.

Guacamelee - Do you like Metroid but wished Samus was more into luchador wrestling fashion sense and humor? This is the game for you. Progression system, upgrades, 2 player co-op, back tracking and turning into a chicken instead of a ball. If this game isn't good, I will be very upset.

Super T.I.M.E. Force - 2D platformer/shooter that many are calling the game of the show, not limited to just Indies.

Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode 3 - The next chapter in the PAA series. Zeboyd replacing Hothead. 8-bit and 16-bit classic RPG style. Need I say more?

Dust: An Elysian Tail - Seriously beautiful looking game. Another one man dealio. From my understanding, Dean Dodril just made his dream game, tossing in everything he ever wanted in a single game. This is a much deeper rabbit hole than meets the eye at first glance.

Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor - Didn't get my hands on it, not for lack of effort, but I am still cautiously intrigued. If From Software can pull off a solid mech/tank game with interesting and functional Kinect support, I think this would be a great step in the "Controller first, but with added Kinect gestures" style of gameplay. Granted that style of gameplay will only be suited for certain games, but I still have don't really have any desire to spend money on a Kinect since I'm not a dancer or a 12 year old.

Monaco - I have been excited about this game for a while, and it doesn't look like it will disappoint. If you can picture a Pac-Man meets Ocean's 11 kind of heist game, you're on the right track. Through in some nice gameplay and level design and a great use of color to represent field of view and I am on board. Follow this one.

Containment: The Zombie Puzzler - This is another reason I love PAX. I randomly stumbled upon this game and got into a conversation with the developers. It's a puzzler in line with Bejeweled, that changes up the gamplay in some great ways. Zombies are invading your puzzle grid and you must surround each zombie with 4 of the same character types to kill them.A little more complicated and engaging than just simply match colors in a row. The game goes deeper; different character types yield different results and upgrades, zombies begin infecting other characters on your puzzle grid, and the story is all in game and constantly moving. If you are looking to mix up your puzzle game library with some unique and well executed ideas, check this game out, it's available now on Steam.

This is really only a small collection of the games on display. Check out the Indie Megabooth site ( for more games and info. Even that doesn't cover every game on the floor.

Gabe and Tycho! ( I had to throw this in)

The show was packed with a ton of other interesting things to see. Fitting all of this into a 3 day show is pretty absurd. Memorable moments off the top of my head: Giantbomb podcast, all the Mike and Jerry Q & A's, The Gearbox panel, watching Sub-Zero play Kinect, Monty Oum from Rooster teeth punching a lemon back at someone, seeing the Minibosses live, the list goes on. If any of this is up your alley, I highly encourage checking it out.

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I'll probably just post my PAX East write up anyway for the hell of it.