Mar 12, 2011

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Day Two, PAX East: The Demos

Day two of this journey was much smoother in that I was able to arrive at the Boston Convention Center early, and because my luggage arrived from the airport at 2 A.M.  Semi-rested, I began to tackle the entire Expo floor and get some hands on time with some extremely cool demos.

One of the biggest upcoming titles this year, Gears of War 3, was first on my agenda and Xbots will be extremely pleased to know the game is coming together quite nicely.  My impressions come from a six-on-six deathmatch in a town-based map.  The game itself looks good and runs very smooth. Deaths are still just as graphic and that much more entertaining.  The Gears line to play didn’t lie.  It was worth waiting for (even though I only waited three minutes). I don’t think fans will be disappointed in September when the game releases.

As a fan of the series since SOCOM: U.S. Navy Seals, I was eager to head to the SOCOM 4 booth immediately after leaving Gears of War 3.  A part of me feared the worst for the fourth installment and I was not expecting much going into the demo.  However, I was pleasantly surprised.  The game is really fun and unlike Gears, I finished the round at number one overall.  What disappointed me the most was how the game looked.  While I agree that great gameplay is more important than great graphics, having a good looking game certainly helps with the experience and Zipper seems to be a little behind in that aspect of the game.  Regardless of how it looked, it was a good demo and I left with a positive impression as well as another beta code.

I then checked out a few smaller games, including some that are already out that I had no idea existed.  What comes to the forefront of my mind is the game Raskulls, developed by Halfbrick and available on Xbox LIVE now.  Gamers race against each other by shooting blocks with something I will label flower power because it looks remarkably similar to it.  For such a cheap price, it is definitely worth considering a purchase.

Antec had a nice setup at PAX and Inside its makeshift room was an amazing speaker setup with a nice big screen, running Marvel vs Capcom 3 on Xbox 360 with two fighting sticks.  The winner of two fights in a row won a free shirt.  I however, had my ass handed to me by someone who was skilled beyond his years with said fighting stick.

A game that left me impressed was Dirt 2 and while I am fully aware that it has been out for some time, Asus had it looking beautiful on the laptops that were setup. As someone who has never played it, I had to take the game out for a spin.  The damage models were amazing and it is clear that PCs are still able to bring out the best in a video game if the developer gives PCs a chance.

Bethesda is a benchmark for quality RPGs and I was surprised to see such a small set-up for Hunted.  It would be hard to say that the game was engrossing, as a demo could never allow a player enough time to piece together what is going on in an rpg, that said I still walked away a little puzzled.  Not from the story but from some of the gameplay decisions.  As a was playing through the demo, a screeching noise rung through my headphones periodically, for what I believe to be an enemy indicator.  While the demo was very dark, what I was able to make out of the characters did not look good.  There is still plenty of time for Hunted to prove me wrong and become a strong IP for Bethesda and I hope it does so.  Unfortunately, I left the booth a little disappointed.

The last demo I was able to play was Red Faction: Armageddon and it was a blast.  The demo put you in a single-player “Ruin mode” that requires players to destroy every building around them in one minute.  Bonuses are given for blowing up certain objects and if you broke a score of 5,000,000, you would get a free Red Faction poster.  Scores over 10,000,000 netted the player a t-shirt.  The moral of this story is that I had to play it twice, but received both the poster and shirt.  THQ might be publishing a real winner here and I might be forced to pre-order it.  Red Faction surprised me and was the best demo I was able to play on my second day at PAX.

The final day of PAX East will hopefully involve me playing L.A. Noire, Brink and Portal 2, all of which have remarkably long lines.

More information on the Deus Ex: Human Evolution and Twisted Pixel panels I saw today will be up soon. Also on their way are some pictures from the event and a few videos of expo floor demos.  Sorry, but recording some demos is strictly prohibited.

Stay tuned to for more PAX coverage and you can follow us on Twitter for live updates.

 

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About Juan Balbuena

Currently involved in saving the galaxy via Mass Effect 3 and the online shooter world with Battlefield 3.