Monday, September 06, 2010

PAX Review

In a project where I play 365 Games in 365 Days, what does one say about a show like PAX? In the last three days, I've played at least a dozen brand new games...and while there is only one I felt I spent enough time with to review for my project...there were several I really enjoyed.

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit. Once again, the game is back to the classic Cops vs. Street Racers formula, only this time you can play careers as either the cops or the racers. This is interesting because as a cop, you start out with the standard cop car and move on up to sports cars. Racers are the same, but there's a much bigger rivalry now, and you can even play cops vs. racers online. I played this one at their booth 4 or 5 times (including once on their 103" plasma tv) and I can't wait to play this for real when it releases this November.

NBA Jam. I got less than 3 minutes with this in the last few mins of the show before they turned the monitors off. Still, it feels nice and arcadey, like the old NBA Jam games, and I definitely want to try it for real.

Dance Central: Playing this at PAX was a lot of fun. I played two songs (both times with friends). The game can detect what you are doing with all of your limbs and feels more like "actual" dancing (not that I know what that feels like) than any game I have ever played. There is a training mode where you can learn the moves if you want to, and then the game mode where you do them all back to back, following the onscreen dancing.


Just Dance 2: I played this one shortly after playing dance central, and it was really apparent how lame it actually is by comparison. You hold a Wiimote in one hand, and that's all the game can track you with. It has no idea what you're doing with your other hand, your body, or your legs. Once you realize that, it just feels ridiculous by comparison. Unfortunately, the Just Dance booth was bigger than both the Dance Central booths combined, so I imagine more people saw this one.

Nail'd: A cool ATV game that will support multiplayer online. Like Dirt, you're on...well...dirt, and there are big jumps and stuff. It reminded me a bit of Motorstorm for the PS3, but as far as I could tell, you can only drive one vehicle. I talked with one of the developers, and he said there would not be mid-air stunts (even though you get a TON of air when you jump) because the game is about speed, and finding the fastest route through the track. There are plenty of shortcuts, and he showed me one where you jump onto a train and ride it instead of jumping over it like the game naturally encourages you to. Pretty good demo, and I'll definitely add it to my "must play" list when it comes out later this year.

Scribblenauts 2: I wasn't a big fan of the original, but this one has added adjectives and many more game types. They were giving out buttons, and my friend Rachel was trying to get as many as she could, so we visited this booth a couple of times. The game is very hard to pick up, but with a little help from the booth girl, I was able to figure out what I was supposed to do and complete a mission or two. I watched my friends play, and since this is mostly a game of typing, I feel like I got more experience with this game than I actually did. I'm not sure if I'd rent this one, but if I am short on games by the end of the year, I'll keep an open mind.

Ilo Milo: I played this on both Xbox Live Arcade and the Windows Phone. It's a game about two little critters who simply need to meet up with each other. They start you out on opposite sides of a puzzle (made up of single block sized spaces) and you have to walk them to each other. You push cubes, activate levers and do other things to make sure your characters can overcome obstacles and meet each other. It was a little difficult to pick up, but instantly addictive. The surprising thing is it was fairly similar on the phone, and you can get separate achievements for playing it there as well. SOLD.

Gig: I hadn't heard much about this game before PAX, but it appears the draw is that you can learn to play real instruments by playing it (somewhat similar to the Rock Band 3 pro mode). The plastic guitar they give you has real strings, and you play the game by strumming them with a real pick. I found it incredibly hard to play, but that's because I've never played real guitar before. It's a cool idea, although the game has a rather lame setlist. The other new instrument they're featuring are "air drums". Frankly, I didn't understand the point of these at all, but you swing big heavy plastic sticks with sensors in them over drum pads with sensors inside. You never actually hit the drum pad, so you're basically air drumming the whole time. I can't imagine why anyone would ever buy a set of drums like this, unless they lived in an apartment and got complaints from the neighbors all the time about Rock Band drums. It's gimmicky, and although they didn't have the price posted...I imagine it's going to sell about as well as the Konami Rock Revolution drums did.

Drumskulls: My nephew was a huge fan of this one. Basically, you use your existing video game drums to kill zombies. They had it set up at the booth with sets of Ion drums (like I have) and you would wail away at the pads when zombies came on screen. Hit the green pad to kill green zombies, red for red, etc, etc. It was pretty simple, yet surprisingly fun.

Fruit Ninja on Windows Phone. LOVE IT. This was my favorite Windows mobile game that I played at their booth. I know it's already out for iPhone, but this one will have Xbox Live achievements (hell yeah!). You swipe your finger at fruit that flies on the screen, and avoid the bombs. That's it. That's the game. I love it.

RASkulls: I played the 4 player race with my friends. This is an Xbox Live Arcade game where you dig and fight your way through a level (collecting power ups along the way) trying to make it to the finish line first. We played the four player version, and my nephew won a t-shirt for beating us. It was pretty fun.

Project Sunburst: This is a Windows Phone Crackdown tie in. Basically, it uses Bing Maps to create a city (you can choose any location you want) and then you defend that city from freaks. It's a tower defense game, but it has elements of foursquare in it...because when you travel somewhere (in real life, not in the game), you find items for the game along the way. Very cool.

Bubble Town: Windows phone, a lot like Puzzle Bobble....but somehow a little more fun. I have no idea how much these games are, but I could see myself wanting more than a few on my phone.

Dead Rising in 3D: I didn't play this game, but I tried on the expensive glasses and checked it out while someone else played. In my opinion, this game is not yet ready for prime time, but it was semi-cool. The main character and anything immediately surrounding him was in good 3D, but as soon as you got more than a few feet away from him, everything was in double vision. Pretty lame overall, but I could see the potential in it.

Comic Jumper: I played this one so much that I am actually going to be reviewing it soon for my project.

In addition to these, I also looked a bunch of games that I couldn't play because of the lines. Halo Reach, Gears and Fable 3, all the Sony games, Rock Band 3, etc, etc. It's going to be an awesome Christmas. I also entered in tournaments for a ton of games I have played many times before, including Geometry Wars, Joust and Beautiful Katamari. I also played some pick-up games of Mario Kart with people in the console room freeplay room.

I saw panels for Halo Reach, the opening keynote, watched some of the concerts and even got to see Wil Wheaton do (most of) his panel. It was a fantastic weekend....and I can't wait for next year.

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