With great sadness, another PAX East has come to a close. After spending the last three days playing the latest and greatest games, and interviewing those who have made them, at PAX East 2012 we have plenty of great content hands-on content coming your way over the next couple days.
In the meantime, here some of the highlights and lowlights from this weekend’s gaming extravaganza.
Game That Blew Us Away: XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Honoring the turn-based nature of the original title, this re-imagining of the 1994 strategy game appears ready to please both retro and modern gamers alike.
Long Live Nostalgia! (tie): Max Payne 3 and XCOM: Unknown Enemy (Firaxis)
Don’t expect huge deviations from the original series when it comes to the core gameplay of these long established franchises.
Gameplay That Seems Almost Too Good to Be True: Hitman: Absolution (IO Interactive)
Aside from one enemy’s body floating awkwardly through the air as a result of an explosion, the demonstration footage was so impressive that it seemed too perfect. If the guys from IO Interactive deliver on what they’ve shown, there are going to be a lot of happy Agent 47 fanboys out there.
Gameplay that is more evolutionary than revolutionary: Assassin’s Creed 3 (Ubisoft)
The gameplay shown at PAX East will thrill AC3 fans, and the portrayal of a military battle will excite Revolutionary War fans. But the flow of the game still appears very similar to the prior entries in the series, even if the movements were built from the ground up and trees have now replaced buildings. Nonetheless, expect the newest protagonist, Connor, to be one of the most popular costumes come this Halloween.
RPG That Every Xbox 360 Owner Should Play: The Witcher 2 (CD Projekt Red)
The Witcher 2 was an epic PC RPG that just needed an opportunity for a larger audience. Now it finally gets a chance when it releases for the Xbox 360. RPG fans disappointed with the outcome of Mass Effect 3 should give this one a look.
Puzzle title that needs more GLaDOS: Quantum Conundrum (Airtight Games)
Designed by Kim Swift, the former lead designer of Portal, this puzzle game exchanges the portal gun for an Interdimensional Shift Device, which changes the characteristics and aesthetics of the environment. While nothing screams comfort like the fluffy dimension, Quantum Conundrum could use a little more passive-aggressive humor to truly make us feel at home.
A year ago, both of these games seemed as if they may never see the light of day. Luckily for gamers, both made it through the rough patch and were able to impress attendees of PAX East. The two titles are now set for release this year.
You Got Your Child of Eden in My Panzer Dragoon: Crimson Dragon (Microsoft Studios)
Those who played Child of Eden will have a serious case of deja vu when playing the spiritual successor to Panzer Dragoon. The rail shooter uses a nearly identical control scheme, offering a been there, done that experience. Then again, hardly anyone played Child of Eden and Crimson Dragon has one major advantage: customizable dragons.
Kinect Finally Goes Hardcore: Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor (From Software)
Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor is the first game to fully integrate the Xbox 360 controller with the Kinect (no, Mass Effect 3 doesn’t count). Microsoft’s motion control device replaces the $200 Steel Battalion 40-button controller and is as awkward as you’d think it would be. On the bright side, the game won’t ruin your childhood by featuring awkward dancing sequences (we’re looking at you Kinect Star Wars).
Most Surprisingly Fun Multiplayer: The Guerilla Mode of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
Separate from the regular multiplayer, Guerrilla Mode offers co-op play where each gamer is a member of a 4-player squad that is attempting to hold onto a base location. Because of the realistic combat style, successful completion requires real teamwork and coordination. Essentially a horde mode, Guerrilla Mode features 50 rounds with a boss appearance every 10 rounds.
Most Controversial Moment: The Removal of Famed Cosplayer, Jessica Nigri
Ms. Nigri had been dressed as Juliet Starling from Lollipop Chainsaw (see left photo below) at the Warner Bros. booth all day on Friday without incident. When she changed into the variant costume on Saturday afternoon (right photo), which was, um, a tad bit more revealing, PAX showrunners told her to change back into her first costume. After doing so, she was then told to wear a sweatshirt or face removal from PAX. While not kicked from the show, Ms. Nigri’s Juliet Starling appearance was over for the rest of the show.
Best Show within a Show: BioWare’s “base” camp
Despite its recent heavy-handedness related to the ending of Mass Effect 3, BioWare is still a huge fan-favorite with the gaming public and the company showed its community some love by setting up shop in one of the convention center’s suites. A schedule of events took place every day of the convention, including autograph signings, trivia contests, and a demonstration of the “Resurgence Pack DLC.”
Stay tuned throughout the week as we’ll be posting additional interviews and hands-on impressions of many of the big titles shown at this year’s show.