PAX ’07: Micro-impressions

27 08 2007

So, after three long days of pseudo-journalizing, PAX is officially over. We played a lot of games, and being far too tired to do full impressions of the games I played, I’ll do quick run-downs of each one, noting the key points of each.

Rock Band

While I could have saved the best for last, I just really have to talk about this game because, frankly, it is the best game we played all weekend. Kyle—lead guitar—Mike—bass guitar—and I—drums played together, while one of the exhibitors sang on the mic.

Anyone who has played Guitar Hero—and really, who hasn’t—will recognize quickly how the game works. There are three separate bars for each instrument, showing off which fret-slash-drum you should play. The guitars both have star-power that works the same way as Guitar Hero—lifting the neck of the guitars. The drums, however, work a little differently in that you are simply asked to go wild, hitting any and all notes in any order for a short period of time. The microphone is the most interesting, however, because instead of just using regular word recognition, it also recognizes pitch.

But really, none of this has anything to do with why this game was so fun to play, even in the short session we had. The beauty of the game is that, frankly, you really get into it. Being together, playing in time, it really feels like you’re in a band, working together to make bad-ass music. Especially since a lot of your star power works on band unity, it become so much fun. The only issue I could see is that, as a single player and/or online experience, the game could feel really disconnected and somewhat boring.

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

Drake’s fortune is looking to be one of the few really promising titles for PS3—it’s certainly got the support of the enthusiast press. While the story of the game is a little shady—you’re a treasure hunter looking for proof that your great ancestor was a famous explorer—the great character animation and heavy focus on fire fights—which is complimented by a pretty intuitive cover system—make this game feel pretty damn good. Think of it like a combination of Pitfall meets Gears of War.

Your character, Nicholas Drake, is to be this sort of “average joe” character, and to emphasize this, he’s given a lot of “average joe” traits. In the opening cutscene, he’s portrayed as a little unsure of his actions, but a risk-taker none-the less. The dialogue and voice acting are really quite convincing here, which helps a lot. The other way they try to convey this character trait is by the animations they give him. Drake stumbles on rocks and roots while running, his arms recoil quite harshly when using firearms, and even shreeks a little when blind-firing over/around cover. This is all pretty cool, and it all comes together fairly well to create this character. The action is also pretty fun, though it could be little easy for veteran players, especially if you have extensive knowledge of games like Gears. The cover system works pretty much the same way—except you press O instead of A—and is really easy to use. From there you either press R1 to blind fire, or L1 to aim.

It’s not all shiny though. If an enemy is in sight of the camera from around your cover, the game will auto-aim to that enemy, sometimes even giving a string of easy head-shots. Also, the demo had some serious clipping issues. Tripping over rocks shouldn’t look like your feet went through the tops of boulders, and pressing your shoulder against rock-walls sometimes put it right through said rock-wall.

N+

This little indy game from MetaNet software was really a treat to play. I had heard about it all over the place, but I had not seen it until today. The best way to think of it is Load Runner, except your character is a ninja, and you’re dodging lasers. You’re little ninja runs across various types of levels, using things like wall jumping and momentum from angled platforms in order to collect yellow pixels, which in turn give the ninja more time to reach a well-placed switch which opens the exit to the level you’re on.

There are also various multiplayer modes here, including co-op, competitive, and survival modes, all of which are very fun. The game will come with a level editor, allowing you to create your own ninja gauntlets which can be then downloaded by other players. The game will be released on Xbox Live in December

Castle Crashers

While this game isn’t exactly new, and has been pushed back quite a bit, that doesn’t make it any less…what’s the word…awesome. Seriously, anyone who has ever at one point loved games like Golden Axe or even TMNT: Turtles in Time will most likely have a blast with this one. Each character—Orange, Red, Green, and Blue—has a different weak and strong attack, which can be stringed to a number of different combos. They also each have their own magical abilities that supplement the attacks. This can be activated by holding down the right trigger and doing a weak attack, strong attack, or pressing jump. Orange, for example, has fire magic. One combination that can be done is by holding down the right trigger, doing a jump, and then pressing weak attack to shoot down fireballs at your enemies—it’s all very Akuma. This is just a sample of what you can do. Your characters also level up by defeating enemies, though there was no indication of what exactly this will mean in the future. Also, adding team-up abilities would be pretty sweet.

Well, that’s all folks. Kyle and I are going to Microsoft tomorrow—his uncle works there—to take a tour, and also meet Xbox Dad and maybe, if we’re lucky, someone even bigger.

kefka.gifPersopolian

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24 07 2008
In the Shadow of the Colossi: Overlooked Games of E3 ‘08 - Great White Delight

[…] announced in 2006–but it’s shaping up to be well worth the wait. When I first got my hands on it at PAX ‘07, I was instantly hooked. Each of the four main characters has a unique fighting […]

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