With so many games to see at PAX East, who could pick a favorite? Our staff, that’s who! From the hoards of playable games, we walked away smitten by some of PAX’s finest. Below is a list of game you should set a Google Alert for so you can keep up on their every move.
Dan Tallarico’s Favorite PAX Games
Super TIME Force: This game sucked me in as soon as I grabbed the controller. Super TIME Force is charming and familiar on the surface, but its depth is complex and contains time manipulation. There’s nothing I love more than time manipulation. You can read some of my preview here, but the mechanics of this game work so well. I’m always impressed when a game that could very well be multiplayer takes the singleplayer route. It’s kind of like Lost Vikings, Braid and Contra decided to procreate. I don’t know in that world the government would let that happen, but maybe it’s for the best.
Penny Arcade Adventure Rain-Slick Precipe of Darkness 3: I frequently think about returning back to the SNES days of the RPG, but I’ve been spoiled by modern ideology. Zeboyd games is developing the new Penny Arcade with blends the old-school atmosphere with sensibility. No random encounters, progressive classes and dialogue written by Tycho Brahe. I played the first Penny Arcade game to completion out of necessity. By the end of the game, I was finishing it just to do it. But this third episode is hot stuff, and I can’t wait to play the full version.
Ben Chapman’s Favorite PAX Games
Firefall: MMOs have never had much sway over me. I’ve just never found any joy in a two-tier quickbar of powers that feel more like suggestions than actions. Firefall seems to have resolved both problems with the liberal application of guns and jet-boots. It’s like Tribes, except with quests and level perks. It’s also wonderful to have an engaging persistent online environment that isn’t filled with Elves, wizard hats and Orcs. Instead, we get pulse lasers, vertically-oriented gun battles and giant space drills that can be called down at will. More importantly, the aspect of all players as survivors of a great apocalyptic event help bolster an attitude of cooperation. You won’t gripe about someone helping you defend your mining drill, you’ll encourage it. If the Firefall beta preview PAX is anywhere as good as it seemed, my free-time is going to be at risk.
AirMech: Imagine Starcraft, except instead of a select cursor, you used a high-powered aircraft that can morph into a mechanized battle unit at will. Actually, I think I just sold myself on this game all over again. AirMech is part RTS and part Shoot-em-up and as such, it’s incredibly hectic. I’m not particularly good at either genre, but that didn’t stop me from completely losing track of time during my 30 minute demo at Carbon Games’ demo booth. I wasn’t alone either, judging by the crowd. The game’s formula makes sense instantly, but you can tell right away that it would take many, many hours to perfect. Of course, that’s easy to do, considering AirMech is readily available to play in your browser. You can download and install the beta build of AirMech right now, through Google Chrome and your boss won’t even have a clue (probably).
Chris Ullery’s Favorite PAX Games
Smite: Considering how virulent their fan base can be, it’s not surprising that there isn’t a ton of variety when it comes to MOBA games. That’s why it was so refreshing to see several attempts at PAX to buck the trend and bring something new to the genre, and Smite stood head and shoulders above the rest in this respect. Keeping many of the elements that make MOBA games fun intact and switching the perspective to a third person action game with an MMO PvP influence, Smite was an absolute blast to play on the show floor, even if I did get my ass handed to me repeatedly. Hi-Rez has got the beginnings of something really awesome on their hands here, and this will definitely be a title you’ll want to take notice of if you’ve ever enjoyed this type of game.
Neverwinter: One of the major shortcomings of MMORPGS, even in story-driven ones like The Old Republic, is that the narrative only goes one way. The ancient tradition of tabletop storytelling which MMORPGs have their basis in seems incompatible with the online formula, which is why Cryptic’s Neverwinter grabbed my attention. Staying true to its namesake, the game will feature a full scenario creation engine, and players will be able to upload their creations to an online service called the Foundry. Through this service, content creators will be able sot share their creations with the world in the same way tabletop dungeon masters have woven stories for their players for decades. While the hard details about the Foundry will have to wait until the summer, I’m already giddy with excitement about the possibilities of an MMO driven by player-generated content. Here’s hoping it works out.
Jen Shaffer’s Favorite PAX Games
Spec Ops: The Line really blew me away. I was massively impressed with the trailers I had seen and getting hands on the game surprisingly lived up to the expectations my gamer-mind set. Outside of the beautiful design, the animation, the fluidity of action, I feel like the best part about Spec Ops was their take on squad command. Normally, I shy away from titles that force you to take over a squad as I’m more of an independent warrior, but Spec Ops let the command flow so well into gameplay it didn’t feel like a disrupt, just part of my job in-game.
BattleBlock Theater: Normally, I wouldn’t pick a title that had been featured at past PAX events, but I can’t help myself when it comes to the Behemoth. My spirits were raised when I saw updated versions of BattleBlock Theater, showcasing a massive amount of the initially promised elements of the game and then some. The Behemoth has a way of roping people in and keeping you there for ages, so I wasn’t surprised when 20 minutes passed in the blink of an eye on the arcade machines they had set up. I am really looking forward to the release of this game and after what I saw at PAX East, I know it’s going to be chock full of fantastic content.
Zach Martin’s Favorite PAX Games
Borderlands 2: What can I say that has not already been said? The sequel to my personal favorite game of 2009 is shaping up to be every bit the sequel I could have hoped for. Bigger, crazier guns, better graphics, improved UI elements, new enemies that each require different strategies to defeat–I could go on and on (and, in fact, already have several times in the past). Basically, they’re fixing everything that needed fixing from the first game, and if my half hour of playtime was any indication, this is going to pretty much be the perfect sequel.
Crimson Dragon: This game came as a huge surprise for me. My general distaste for Kinect is something I’ve never denied, even now that I own one, and playing Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor only reinforced my bias. Crimson Dragon, on the other hand, is a perfect fit for the Kinect. It’s a spiritual successor to Panzer Dragoon, and the rail shooter set up works incredibly well. With the original creator of the Panzer Dragoon series at the helm of this one, I can’t see what could go wrong.