Our man on the ground at PAX is still recovering - here's the highlights of the show before the PAX Pox strikes him low!
PAX Australia - Day 1
To say people were excited for PAX is an understatement with fans lining up hours before they were allowed in just to be some of the first to make their way through the main gates!
Day 1 held a lot of fun and surprises. To start with we thought we’d check out what the local Indie Developers have been up to and what they have on show.
An action/spy style game where the player controls a number of special agents, all with their own skill set. During a mission you’ll have specific objectives to meet and it’s up to you to strategise how best to meet them. The demo on display had a tutorial as well as a mission; the objective was to capture or kill a target. After about 20 minutes of playing, let me just say that I died a lot. However each time I would get further and further, learning from my past mistakes, so they didn't make me feel too bad about sucking. One of the developers said I was doing quite well and their intention is that players learn with each play through.
Black Annex is played from an isometric viewpoint and the controls are quite simple to comprehend. The demo on display was also pre-alpha; needless to say this title has a lot of potential.
Dungeon Dashers is the beautiful love child of two of my personal favourite games - Legend of Grimrock and Advance Wars. Essentially it’s a turn-based dungeon crawler that is quite fast paced, retro in graphical appeal, and very addictive from the demo I played!
You’ll control a party of four dungeon crawlers, each with a specific class, and each turn you’ll move one of them into position and perform some set moves, then it’s the AI’s turn. I instantly fell in love with this title and really look forward to is official release.
Watch of Gamecraft
For anyone who grew up with those handheld LCD games, this game is for you! With a title that is clearly a parody of World of Warcraft, they’ve combined the RPG elements of WoW and set it in a world that is a stylised Game and Watch game! The demo, while short, took me right back to my childhood playing one of these handhelds in a long car ride. On nostalgia-value alone this game is pure win, however the gameplay will keep you coming back for more.
Naturally there were many more games to check out but they would have to wait for Day 2 and 3.
Over at the Ubisoft's stand they were showing off a bunch of their up and coming titles. the stand outs were fairly obvious, however there was also a surprising gem on show that I had never heard about before this event. To start with Ubi put on a demo of Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag. Looking better than ever, this game sets to combine what you love about the AC universe with Pirates! What more could you possibly need? The demo showed about five minutes of gameplay, with the new protagonist stalking around, taking out his enemies before jumping onto a ship and engaging in an epic battle. There was never a dull moment.
Next up was Watch Dogs. This will easily be a big winner this year and we were lucky enough to see some new gameplay footage during the event, with the main character helping another man escape using hacked video cameras and some bone crunching combat skills, with the final scene having the main character escape himself with the aid of blackout hack. This game looks phenomenal and is due out at the end of this year.
Although Rayman Legends was meant to be released on the WiiU many months ago (now due out next month across all platforms), Ubisoft at least had it playable at the show. Essentially it’s a side scrolling platformer, however the demo I played with one of the staff was a co-op style level, with me slashing and swiping to assist my co-op buddy in finishing the level. It’s sad WiiU owners have had to wait this long to play it, it will easily be a winner when it’s finally released in August.
The surprise however was Might and Magic – Duel of Champions. Looking to combine the aspects of Magic the Gathering, Chess and Might and Magic this free to play game looks like it could be quite enjoyable! The designer at the event stressed that this was not a pay to win game and that they wanted to steer as clear from that as possible, with a focus on strategic gameplay rather than the person with the most money winning. With tournaments being held all around the world, this one looks like it could be a winner! At the very least it wouldn’t hurt to download this and give this one a go.
League of AWESOME
Moving over at the RIOT stand, it was fairly obvious they were stealing the show. If any company would like to take notes on how to win over a community, they should pay close attention to how it was being done here.
To kick the day off they were getting members from the crowd to play against the staff at the event in a game of League of Legends, then they showcased a bunch of LoL cosplayers before moving into the main event, the Oceanic Season 3 Championships! Day 1 was HSD vs FIGJAM in the first semi-final match at the event, with HSD being the victors with a tenacious synergy that FIGJAM just couldn’t keep up with. They say that teams win matches in LoL and HSD proved that.
It’s great to see this kind of things in Australia and is great for the eSports scene, the crowds were more than happy to eat this up!
To cap the day off we went to check out the XBOX One demonstration in the main theatre. Perhaps learning from their blunders of recent past, Microsoft stuck to the basics, telling us about the new controller and Kinect Module and their new features.
The new controller looks good and supposedly has a much improved D-Pad and thumb-stick controls (apparently 25% less force is needed). The Kinect on the other hand has had a major overhaul, now seeing a lot more detail, more responsive and a great deal more powerful. Perhaps though it’s too powerful; the kinect can not only see you in the dark, and the creases on your clothes, but it can also tell your heart-rate and if you’re happy or sad. How that will relate to gaming remains to be seen.
To finish off MS showed some demos of Ryse – Son of Rome, a third person hack and slack where you control a soldier in the Roman army, Battlefield 4, Killer Instinct and finally the teaser for the new Halo. Sadly you’ve seen all this before from E3 videos and other major events from overseas. There was no playable demo’s for any of these but we were told that they would have 100 booths at the EB Expo in October this year for anyone wishing to check it out.
Well that was just day 1, with two more to go I needed to rest up and regain my energy for another glorious day of PAX!