Saturday, August 27, 2011

PAX Prime - Day One

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Games: PAX, Day One

It's been a long day and tomorrow is going to be even longer, so I'm going to cut right to the chase here. No fancy opening, I'm just getting to it.

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>Batman: Arkham City. Of course it was awesome, what else were you expecting? Looked great, handled great, and now there's a giant open world for the Dark Knight Detective to explore. There are a ton of bad guys, gameplay has been tweaked to reduce the temptation for players to leave the super-goggles on all the time, and Catwoman is a snazzy addition to the formula. During the campaign, players will be using her about 10% of the time. However, once the required portions are completed, it was revealed that players can go back and re-select her at their discretion. Day one purchase.



> Gotham City Impostors. One team is Batman wannabes, the other team are Joker impersonators. Multiplayer madness ensues. Apart from the superhero theme, I really didn't see anything to make this title stand out for me. Going to pass on this one.



>Lord of the Rings: War in the North. It looks better than I was expecting, but it also looked about like what you'd expect. Three-player co-op, original content that meshes with the books and films. I'd probably play it with my wife, but I don't think I would play through it on my own, if you get my drift.



>Lollipop Chainsaw. A room-based brawler written by Suda 51. I'm not the biggest Suda fan, but watching the main character (a cheerleader) leaping, kicking, and slicing zombies with an excess of sparkles and rainbow special effects was actually pretty cool... I like the visual vibe and it controlled well. The demo was fairly short and my opinion of the game rose after getting a hands-on, although I will say that I had a few warning lights go off in regards to the game's attitude. Obviously, it's not meant to be a serious, deep experience, but there were a few things that made me raise an eyebrow. For example, at one point the word ‘vanillaslut’ flashed across the screen in huge lettering, and at another point, a text bubble popped up advising the player to not try for upskirt camera angles. My time was quite limited with the game so I don't want to jump to any conclusions, but I'm quite curious as to how the writing will turn out. There's (sometimes) a fine line between clever and insulting, and I'm not sure that Suda 51 always knows where that is.



>Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. I'm a big Sly fan and this continuation of the series by Sanzaru Games looked to be extremely faithful to the series. It's about what you'd expect with a few tweaks here and there, but I mean that in the best possible sense. More Sly is a very welcome thing.



>Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One. In addition to being a Sly fan, I'm also a Ratchet & Clank fan. The most recent entries haven't been as enjoyable as the older ones (in my opinion, anyway) but this latest addition looks like a great title to play with friends and family. With a strong emphasis on multiplayer (no worries, solo people can still go through the game with a bot) the formula looked familiar enough to keep fans happy, yet was straightforward and approachable enough to welcome young ones and newcomers. It's probably not something that I would fire up during Friday night hardcore game/pizza sessions, but it's definitely something I would want to sit down and play with the kids.



>Starhawk. Fast action combining third-person run-and-gun shooting, building/installation management (!!!) and loads of vehicles. The game's main character runs around blasting aliens and collecting the energy that they leave behind. This energy can be used to call down huge buildings from the sky -- things like anti-aircraft emplacements, AI teammate generators, and all sorts of other buildings. Toss in a whole bunch of things to pilot like cars, a sweet jet pack, or a very Transformers-like battle suit that can go between biped and aerial modes at will, and it's a pretty interesting formula. The developers say that the campaign and multiplayer options have gotten equal amounts of attention, so fans of either should be happy with this third entry into the ‘Hawk series.



>Aliens: Infestation. This game was only being shown on one DS that was held by one person, but it was worth tracking down. Essentially, it’s a Metroidvania that replaces the single-character-exploring-a-world template with an entire squad of space marines and sets it in the Aliens universe. Each character (apparently, around thirty) has their own personality and story. If characters are captured by aliens, they can be rescued before being impregnated by facehuggers. If they're not rescued in time, they're still playable… for a little while, anyway. If you've seen the film, then you know exactly what I'm talking about. I have a feeling that this one is going to catch a lot of people by surprise, but you can say that you heard about it here!



>Aliens: Colonial Marines. At a talk given by Gearbox guru Randy Pitchford, players were treated to a hands-off demo of this upcoming action title that seems very much like a heartfelt homage to the property. While the premise felt a little uninspired (Marines go to investigate and things get CRAZY!) The graphics were super-sharp, the sounds were spot-on, and the aliens looked great. The action was intense and chaotic, just like the sequences from the film and there were a million little callouts to things that fans will recognize. Not much was shown, but my general impression was that the game will be a bit of a roller coaster ride in terms of the character being funneled a certain way and treated to a number of big set pieces. It's not my favorite type of design in general, but it seems as though it would fit this IP just fine. Up to four players can participate in the campaign at the same time, and apparently there will be a multiplayer mode consisting of Marines versus Aliens.

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That's it for now. PAX Day Two tomorrow.

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