Cosplay? Check. Tabletop gaming? Check. Live concerts? Check. Omegathon? Check. Gaming industry panels? Check. Hands-on demos of future AAA gaming titles? Check. Clam chowDAH? (that’s chowDER for all you non New England folk!) Check.
Formed in 2004 to celebrate gaming culture, Penny Arcade, nicknamed PAX, came to Boston as Pax East in 2010. One of the two largest gaming events in North America, Pax East draws tens of thousands of gamers to the Hub each year. 2012 final attendance numbers are expected to exceed 60,000 gamer geeks. Show organizers recently announced the wildly popular game gala will remain in Boston through 2023 and they covet the vaunted 100,000 attendance mark.
Pax East Previews
Stepping on to the Pax East convention floor for the first time is simultaneously awe inspiring and intimidating. Covering thousands of square feet, the floor featured hundreds of exhibitors. Multiple demos were on display-from the smallest indie developers to the industry’s biggest studios. Rockstar, Gearbox and Ubisoft-Pax East brings out gaming’s big guns! Deciding which games to demo proved itself a daunting task. Fret not, 2o2p’ers, the 2old2play team was up to the challenge!
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Release Date: April 25th
Please refrain from pissing off a Celtic warrior.
Published by Microsoft Studios as part of its XBLA “Arcade Next” series, Bloodforge is steeped in Celtic mythology and lore. You play as Crom, a Celtic warrior retired from battle. Serving only his family he has sworn off his allegiance to the gods ruling his world and the tribes that worship them. Crom soon suffers a cruel trick at the hands of the gods that changes his fate. Dragged back into a world of violence and bloodshed and consumed by murderous revenge, Crom stops at nothing to bring justice to those responsible. One of the most visually appealing games at Pax East, Bloodforge features a black and white graphic novel type art style. Copious amounts of bright red blood shed by Crom provide an excellent visual contrast to the black and white environments. The game plays with a God of War type feel featuring tight and responsive controls. Crom displays multiple macabre melee kill animations including beheadings, double leg amputations and skewering enemies without discrimination. Additional full game features include Crom’s ranged and magical attacks and the “Blood Duels” feature pitting your battle skills against your friends.
Do not miss the gory gruesome goodness of this game! Bloodforge releases on April 25th for 1200 Microsoft points.
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, Win
Release Date: September 18th
Gearbox’s role-playing shooter seeks to make a triumphant return.
Five years after the events of Borderlands four new vault hunters are set to pillage Pandora’s wasteland. Their mission? Rescue their missing vault hunting brethren and kill Handsome Jack. Who are these new hunters? Salvador, a “gunzerker,” whose special ability is dual-wielding any and all guns. Axton, a commando, who can deploy turrets. Zero, an assassin, who can deploy a holographic decoy of himself and subsequently vanish and Maya, a Siren, who can phaselock an enemy into another dimension. BONUS! Gearbox revealed at Pax East an additional character class currently in development! Named “Mechromancer” the character is a cyborg whose special ability is to summon and control D374-TP (deathtrap) robots. The Mechromancer will be available as a post-launch DLC. Gamers who pre-order Borderlands 2 will receive the Mechromancer free!
ElektraFi and I spent some quality hands-on time as Maya in the Caustic Canyons with this bonafide co-op gem. The game returns to its cartoonish cel shaded style with big, bold and bright colors. Gameplay was smooth and suffered no noticeable framerate issues as we battled multiple baddies on screen. Character and enemy designs were highly detailed and the environment was crisp and clean with detailed textures. Maya’s phaselock ability was, frankly, super cool. Phaselocking an enemy suspended it high in the air effectively “phasing” it into another dimension. Once phaselocked it could then be mercilessly pummeled into oblivion by your co-op partner. The game returns many of Borderlands best features. Specifically, one feature makes a triumphant return-LOOT! Killing baddies will net you a plethora of loot. Following our many baddie battles ElektraFi and I were treated to a loot littered battlefield. Weapons, cash and ammo. Ammo, weapons and cash. BOOYAH! Gimme some of them goodies! Collecting loot leads to bigger and badder weapons. Three branch skill trees also return. Sadly, our time with the demo ended as we were about to put our skill points to good use.
Gearbox is making several improvements to Borderlands 2. Improvements include expanded weapons customization, new four seat vehicles and improved vehicle physics, dynamic side quests and an improved AI system. Dynamic quests will be similar to standard RPG’s. If you fail to complete a time sensitive objective, you fail the quest and the story outcome may be altered. The improved AI system will support a larger population of NPC’s. Additionally, Gearbox improved enemy AI. Enemies will work together seeking to flank you. They will seek cover when wounded or fired on, boost shield defense, use each other as human shields and heal their wounded.
If you haven’t yet pre-ordered Borderlands 2, what are you waiting for? Do it! The new vault hunters and improved game mechanics show Borderlands 2 is shaping up nicely. Borderlands 2 is a must buy on my list.
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3
Release Date: June 12th
Big names, big game?
Developed by Grasshopper Manufacture, Lollipop Chainsaw is an eccentric zombie adventure. Suda 51 (Shadows of the Damned) and Akira Yamaoka (former Silent Hill sound guru) are two of the big names behind this game. In an homage to his punk rock predilections, Suda 51 cast Mindless Self Indulgence vocalist Jimmy Urine as in game punk rock boss Zed. Urine also composed the music for the boss fights. Hollywood writer/director James Gunn (Super & Slither) helped write and develop the story as well as the characters for the game. Gunn used many of his film actors in roles in Lollipop Chainsaw.
The game features a young heroine, acrobatic cheerleader Juliet Starling, fighting a massive zombie outbreak at her high school. The zombies are led by a horde of zombie rock and roll lords (it’s an eccentric zombie adventure, remember?). Juliet carries her boyfriend Nick around with her, ummm well, his still living head anyways. Hanging on her skirt, Nick’s head can be used for loads of zombie fighting fun. Kick it at zombie? Check! Need an extra pair of hands? Decapitate a zombie, affix Nick’s head to the body and BOOM! Extra hands! Fun stuff! Did I mention the chainsaw? As if Juliet wasn’t badass enough she comes packing a bedazzled chainsaw!
The demo featured a fast paced combat system similar to Bayonetta. In typical Suda 51 style, the game's visuals are outstanding and the violent action was delightfully over the top. Controls were intuitive, fluid, tight and responsive. Character animations were excellent. Juliet features both light and heavy attacks. Light attacks are kick and punch attacks while heavy attacks incorporate Juliet’s chainsaw. Attacks can be strung together to form combos. Combos included Juliet flipping, hacking off zombie limbs with her chainsaw and dispatching zombies with a cool decapitation finisher. Killing zombies and saving Juliet’s classmates fills up her star meter. When her star meter is full Juliet dons her pom poms which appears to render her invincible and strengthen her already devastating attacks. The only drawback to the demo was Juliet’s ranged attack. I found the aiming slow and cumbersome. To be fair, I was trying to hit a target on a moving school bus. I didn’t hear much of the voice talents or dialogue as the demo took place in a cool Lollipop Chainsaw themed school bus complete with loud music. If it’s similar to previous Suda 51 titles, the dialogue will be just as fun as the game.
Lollipop Chainsaw’s over the top action, dynamic combos, fluid combat system and zombie killing fun are sure to delight hack and slash fans making this title one of 2012’s most exciting. Big names = big game! This Suda 51 offering is another must buy on my list.
So many game demos, so little time. Sadly, you cannot play them all. I hoped to demo Max Payne 3 and its revamped bullet time system. At Pax East minutes turn to hours and hours into days. In the blink of an eye Friday turns into Sunday, Pax East is wrapping up and you are left wondering where the time went. Immersed in gamer culture you are having so much fun time literally melts away.
About the Author
Steven “frizzlefry2” Boulé is an avid indoors-man. He currently resides in New Hampshire where he is an active member of Task Force 141. He frequently swims in the River Styx and tirelessly works to rid the universe of the evil Dr. Nefarious. Steven’s favorite game genres include platformers, action/adventure, RPG’s and first person shooters.