Day 2 of PAX East 2010 was the only full 10 AM-2AM day, and it was sure to be a busy and fun one. The day started with an hour of media-only access to the expo hall, and I was determined to get as much out of that hour as possible. Entering the hall, my attention was caught by a small game at the entrance, Shank.
Shank is a small game by a small team, but oh boy, does it look great and is very fun. Your main character is armed with a knife, a chainsaw, dual pistols and grenades. As you play through the levels, you can seamlessly shift from weapon to weapon causing bloody mayhem wherever you go. I spoke to the lead designer and artist on the game and they have a shockingly small team for the polish I saw in this title. This is one to look out for in the next few months on PSN and XBLA.
Moving on I had a chance to check out Breach from Atomic Games. It looks great and has a number of very cool features dealing with destructible environments, psychological impact of war, spy gadgets, smart cover and realistic scenarios. These guys really know their stuff and it was nice to see them showing this game, expect more on Breach (and Six Days in Fallujah) in an upcoming preview article.
Quickly making the rounds, I was able to see Skate 3 in action and yawned while I walked past, Splinter Cell Conviction was a little too packed, as was Prince of Persia, so I will try to hit them Sunday. Veering toward the pack, I happened across the Behemoth booth and two small stations showing their new game. Making a beeline for there, I waited in a shockingly short line and tried out the game. It is called BattleBlock Theater and while only multiplayer was available, it was very fun.
Featuring the distinctive The Behemoth art style we love, you now get to completely customize your characters shapes that generate the look, as well as choose your starting weapons. In the multiplayer modes, we tried there were challenges to convert as many blocks to your colors as you can while avoiding obstacles and enemies as well as a mode where you collect golden cubes dropped by a flying cloud creature. The levels were ingenious with many environmental effects, puzzles and ways to bypass the enemies and achieve your goals. It was great to try out the game and it inspired me to buy another t-shirt; curse you, The Behemoth!
Realizing the hour was almost up, my partner lined up in the largest line there, for Red Dead Redemption, and I headed to my interview with D3 Publishers for Puzzle Quest 2. On the way I made a quick stop at Uber Softwares booth and checked out the game Tycho recommended, Monday Night Combat. This game has a great art style, is 6-on-6 arena combat with a true sports fanatic feel. Your task is to kill the other team and get as much money from the money ball as possible. It was easy to pick up and a lot of fun.
Getting to the D3 booth, I was able to sit and play through a big chunk of the introduction of Puzzle Quest 2. What I saw impressed and worried me. Iit was worrying because of how much it impressed me, in fact. I am in trouble when this game comes out as I am sure many others will be. They have made this one a dungeon crawl, making the navigation a top down isometric look. They have pulled XP and money out of the game grid and give them as rewards. They have added blocks to trigger weapon attacks, so not only do weapons add stats, they also act as additional powers. Everything about the game is designed to pull you into game play and not break up that experience. Leveling your character is as deep as ever and very rewarding.
Tearing myself away, I went back to the Red Dead line and waited for another hour for my chance to play. Expect a full preview of the game over the next few days but I can tell you that it is fun, it looks amazing and the depth of tasks you can do is astounding. Want to kill and skin animals? Check! Want to capture wild horses? Check! Want to rob a stagecoach? Check! Want to randomly kill people? Check! Oh wait, but if you do that, eyewitnesses will get the law unless you bribe or kill them. Red Dead Redemption has become a game that seems to have it all.
Finally leaving the expo hall, I headed to my first misstep of PAX East. I was supposed to liveblog the Dead Space panel, but arriving 15 minutes early I was told it was past capacity and I couldn’t come in. Switching to the Penny Arcade make a strip panel, instead I liveblogged that and had a great time. It was very cool watching Gabe freestyle as they created the strip. Sitting in the panel It was becoming apparent at that time (and Gabe and Tycho realize it) that PAX East is too big in its very first year for this huge venue.
Leaving the panel a tad early, I headed to a hands off demo of Two Worlds 2. The first game in the series had some good points but was riddled with issues. They seem to have recognized these and made great strides in the sequel. It looks very good with solid animation and graphics, as well as tight scripted in game cutscenes. Combat looks like fun and the three distinct archetypes (Fighter, Mage and Archer) all play differently. It is a classless system, so you can try all three disciplines and switch outfits on the fly, giving it a lot of playable depth. Expect a full preview on this game as well.
Continuing with my busy schedule, I had to head to the Turbine Booth to check out DDO Unlimited and what they have cooked up. On the way, we stumbled upon a guy who created pax.expohud.com. This is a great mobile page that has all the events at PAX East as well as maps and even where the best swag is. It lets you create a schedule and tag where you want to go. A great idea for cons, and more info on this group can be found at expohud.com
Getting to Turbine, I was treated to a very nice walkthrough of DDO Unlimiteds 4th major update. This update is going to be introducing two huge things, the Half-Orc race and flying ships to act as guild housing. The update also includes a great new scenario featuring zombie pirates, which just makes everything better. I spent a lot of time with these guys and have a nice interview and preview with them coming in the next short while.
Moving on through the convention center, I continually saw some great cosplay. There was an Isaac from Dead Space, Harley Quinn from Batman: Arkham Asylum and many others, but of course, the best was our friendly fruit molesting robot that I had to get a picture with.
Following this, I had my second misstep of PAX which actually turned into the coolest moment of the show for me. I was scheduled to liveblog the Naughty Dog panel and again arriving 20 minutes early, we were told the panel was full. This time, though, the Naughty Dog panelists were at the back of the line apologizing for the fact that not everyone could attend. As I spoke to them, they offered to have a chat with me separately. I agreed in a heartbeat and waited until the panel was over.
Getting the four guys to an interview room, we had a great interview — well really a nice organic chat — about everything and anything Naughty Dog. These are great guys who are incredibly passionate about their games. I did lead off with questions about Claudia Black, but quickly veered back to game design and the impact of Uncharted 2. I will be posting the full audio of the interview as well as a summary of our chat shortly. This is a team I admire greatly; meeting them has increased the respect immeasurably.
Finally wrapping up the day at the Expo Hall with some last-minute drooling over games, we finished for the day and had a great dinner at a Thai Fusion restaurant. Day 2 was at an end and it was packed with great games and experiences that I will remember for a long time