Thursday, April 26, 2012
PAX EAST 2012 - Best in Show
The way I see it, when you attend an event as massive as PAX East it takes a while for your brain to wrap around it. If you are looking for an exact number, let's go with approximately three and a half weeks. That said, it's WAY past time that I speak to the good times and changes that were PAX East this year in Boston.
Last year I believe I claimed was the rise of the free-to-play revolution. Nexon was there in force and several other games had that vibe as well. That was not the case this year! I believe that most of the MMOs in attendance actually have a more traditional model, or at least they will for six months. There were a few interesting games there, but something happened where I didn't leave the show as wowed as I did last year. I really can't put my finger on it but something was different.
I'll try to explain that and also reveal the game that I enjoyed most from what I saw there after the break!
The game I played last year that I felt was my game of the year was Firefall. Well, Red 5 Studios was in attendance again this year, but they didn't have their multiplayer team deathmatch set up. This year they had more of the single player co-op modes on display and I have to say I didn't come away QUITE as excited as I did last year. The game is still very clean and well put together. I like the weapon effects, but the brief time and beginning content didn't have me super excited. After spending a little time with the Beta post PAX East it would be fair to say my concerns continue.
Next on the list of games I got some hands on time with is Tera. In my opinion Tera was the best MMO of show that had a prominent presence at PAX East this year. The combat was very fluid and actually skill based. You have to aim your attacks for them to land. Blasphemy! No general direction targeting systems? I have to AIM? I'm afraid so.
It's also a beautiful game for an MMO. I paused several times just to look around at the environments and it just looks very clean. At its heart it's another in a long line of addictive Korean MMOs, so if you liked Lineage or its bretheren, you'll enjoy Tera as well. I have several friends playing the Beta for that game right now as well, and they are loving it.
Me? I'm still saving myself for Guild Wars 2, which sadly I did not encounter at PAX East even though rumor has it that it was around.
Other games I played that essentially lived up to the titles and series they continue were Borderlands 2 and Tribes:Ascend.
Did you like Borderlands? Great! You'll like the sequel. It's more of the same with a new coat of paint, new skills and heroes, and generally looks to be a blockbuster in the making that will probably only be truly fun with friends. Tribes:Ascend is a fast-paced-if-you-aren't-moving-you're-dead shooter. It actually isn't my style but I installed it on my computer the other day and will give it a longer look at some point (yes it is free to play).
One of my most anticipated games of the year this year is the new X-Com remake. It looks like it's going to be awesome and the following sentences haven't changed my opinion of that at all. I bet you're wondering why I put that disclaimer there huh? Well, the demo they showed at PAX East was the same demo they've shown everywhere else. I wish I'd just waited in another line to see something during the press hour because I've already seen everything they showed in numerous places.
The best part of PAX East for me ended up being playing a tabletop game, Munchkin, with a huge group of friends and just generally hanging out. I hit up the console free play room for a bit one day when people weren't around just to recharge. We made a mess of ourselves out in Boston on Saturday night, and just generally enjoyed life. Going forward this may actually be the part of PAX East I love the most. No lines, good friends, more than a few drinks, and just generally taking a break from the real world for a bit.
That said, there is one game I haven't mentioned yet that went from a curiousity to a pre-order after a few minutes with it and an interview with one of the senior producers on the title. I'll have more to say on this in its own article, but that game is Paradox Interactive's upcoming first person medieval combat game War of the Roses. It's going to be awesome.
I'll let you get back to your happy reading now.