PAX Prime 2011
Article Written by:
Aaron Holmes (OptimusSpine)
Hello again, Readers. This is day two of my Penny Arcade Expo coverage! PAX has come and gone, but my memories of all 3 days remains very strong and clear. It was so exciting going to the convention every day, knowing that I was mostly interviewing and demoing games from so many developers! It was an experience unlike any other. I’d do this again and again each year if I could; it may mean not being able to check out games that I want, or companies I’m interested in, but I get to experience brand new types of games, new genres, and meet new and current developers from around the world!
Now, I’d like to bring to you, Reader, the next interview/company with whom I was able to talk, and check out a variety of their games! Reverb Communications was my very first interview of the day, Saturday August twenty seventh.
Reverb had a very large selection of games available to demo, and I luckily had a couple of hours to try out several of them. I will list all the games they had to demo, and I will talk about the ones that I actually played. The genre of games they had available was huge; they had RPG’s, racing games, survival games, and even shooters!
Now here is the full list of games that Reverb Communications had out on display, and their descriptions. I’ll post comments after the listed games that I got a chance to try out.
Dungeon Defenders, Reverb Publishing/Trendy Entertainment (Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Network– Fall 2011): Developed by Trendy Entertainment using Epic Games’ award-winning Unreal Engine 3, Dungeon Defenders throws action-RPG and tower defense game play into the proverbial blender to create a seamless mix of leveling, looting and high-action territorial combat for casual and core players alike.
Review: I tried out Dungeon Defenders first, and while it’s not the traditional Tower Defense game, it does function like one, in that you create towers to thwart the foes. You can also build barricades to block the foes while barraging them with fire. This game requires quite a bit of skill and strategy, and definitely is not easily played as a single player game. Mid-way through dying like crazy during the demo of the game, one of the exhibitors at Reverb took over control of my character, to try and better set up the defense, I am a game tester, so I personally didn’t mind dying a lot, but it was interesting at least watching what all could be done, and in the right way. If you like Tower Defense games and are looking for something a bit different and more challenging, check out Dungeon Defenders!
Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad, Reverb Publishing/2XL Games (Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Network – Fall 2011): Players race four-wheeled 800 horsepower off road race trucks with tons of options including a host of tracks, single-player and multiplayer modes, as well as a wide load out of vehicle classes including Rally Cars, Pro Buggies, and Trophylite Trucks, all in a crispy 1080p, 60 frames per second presentation. Features multiplayer support for eight racers and a full career mode that follows Jeremy’s bid for the PRO-2 championship within the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series (LOORRS).
Review: I’m not a huge fan of Racing games, especially ones that are based around famous drivers, usually those kinds of games aren’t nearly as fun or as good as other types of games, but Jeremy McGrath’s Offroad is actually pretty different. The game includes a “leveling” system for your cars. For each race you win or complete, you gain experience points, that can be put toward leveling up different stats of each vehicle. You can increase the speed, the control, brakes and more! Controlling the vehicles is really easy and doesn’t require you to practice for hours to drive a track properly, and to try and compete with other NPC drivers. I found this game to be overall really fun, different in terms of other racing games, and it had an intuitive design to it. For all you racing fans out there, be sure and check it out when it comes out for Xbox Live Arcade and the PSN!
BloodRayne: Betrayal, Majesco Entertainment (PlayStation Network – September 6, Xbox LIVE – Fall 2011): The original video game femme fatale is back in BloodRayne: Betrayal! Based on the best-selling franchise, the original video game vixen Rayne – the sexy dhampir born from the union of vampire and human – returns to battle and feed in an all-new action-packed, hack ‘n slash adventure.
Review: BloodRayne is quite the entertaining, and fun side-scolling RPG Action game! The game has an interesting control scheme that is fairly straightforward and easy, but performing more advanced maneuvers such as the back flip, can be difficult to pull off if you’re not used to this kind of game, it requires performing other moves in order to do the back flip. Other than the one time I had to use it, the game is pretty fun! I enjoyed sucking the blood of my enemies, and turning them into walking remote bombs! BloodRayne: Betrayal is out now, and definitely worth trying; it’s fun, creative, and challenging!
Sine Mora, Digital Reality (Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Network – Fall 2011): An innovative shoot-‘em-up that mixes traditional side-scrolling game play with unique time manipulation mechanics, Sine Mora is the first of several upcoming joint titles between Grasshopper Manufacture (the developer of Killer 7 and No More Heroes) and publisher Digital Reality.
Review: Sine Mora is a really fun, classic old-school side scrolling shooter with great graphics, music, and it has upgrades for your plane. The game has a time limit that will only increase as you shoot down more enemies. This idea is pretty interesting, but it can be difficult to get through the more difficult stages later on. You can get random upgrades for your plane as you play, and this increases the amount of shots and firepower of your fighter. This does help in taking out more enemies and increasing your time limit, but be careful with the large bosses you face; they can easily take up your time and defeat you. This game is entertaining, worth trying, and if you’re up for a challenge, buying the full game!
SkyDrift, Digital Reality (Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Network – Fall 2011): SkyDrift is an action-heavy arcade game focusing on the ultimate racing and speed experience of flying in a light, quick, fast-paced style. Players will be taken closer than ever before to the world of adrenaline pumping sky-racing. Everybody can test and master their flying and combat skills against deadly opponents.
Review: Skydrift is really fun; it’s like a combination of Mario Kart (with collectible items that can be used to your advantage in speed, or shooting your foes down. It’s got great controls, easy to pick up and play, and fun for get togethers with friends, since you can play with up to 8 people online! I played a couple maps, and the maps are well-designed, fun, and creative. If you’re a fan of old school Mario Kart that uses planes instead of go-karts, and want some fun, intense, flying race action, Skydrift is worth checking out this fall!
The War of the Worlds, Other Ocean Interactive (Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Network – Fall 2011): The War of the Worlds is a dark and breathtaking new vision of the classic H.G. Wells novel, retold as a single player side-scrolling action-adventure, narrated by the acclaimed and distinguished actor, Patrick Stewart. With game play paying homage to classic cinematic platformers such as Flashback, Out of This World and Prince of Persia, the game follows the exploits of an unknown everyman struggling to escape the Martian invasion of London and rescue his family.
Review: The War of the Worlds game for XBLA and PSN is an incredible reminder that you don’t have to have a lot to make a great game! The game uses old fashioned Motion Capture and old-school graphics that depict a dark, eerie world that is under attack from aliens. The game is an excellent survival game. It’s difficult, but the game doesn’t make you pay for dying. If you die, the game starts you off close to where you were phased from existence. The addition of Patrick Stewart’s narration adds to this game’s great feeling of being in an apocalyptic world under attack. I definitely recommend this game for fans of survival games, the old War of the Worlds books and movie not the Tom Cruise one, and games with an amazing atmosphere to them! Make sure to check it out this fall!
Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon, 345 Games (Xbox LIVE on August 30, PlayStation Network – Fall 2011): Uniting the spirit and humor of the animated horror-comedy series with addictive game play, this four player co-op side-scroller shooter game features an exclusive script written by the show writers and creators – including a new character unique to the game and custom voiceovers from the show’s actors. Players will hit the streets to clean up the chaos and prevent the impending apocalypse by resolving case files and fighting otherworldly citizens.
Review: Based on an animated TV Show, Ugly Americans is a very fun, hilarious game to play! This game combines zombie killing with RPG elements to level up characters stats (each character has their own personal max stats), and humor to create a great game for the XBLA or PSN. Each character has their own “special” attack that they can use every once in a while, some of them are very useful and can clear an entire screen of zombies. Others, must be used more sparingly and can be more effective against a single foe, or a Boss.
Black Knight Sword, Digital Reality (Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Network – Fall 2011): A retro side-scrolling adventure, Black Knight Sword features surreal, dream-like graphics with a look and feel unlike anything else. Slash, platform and puzzle your way through this unique title with each level more bizarre and intriguing than the last.
Dead Block, Digital Reality (Xbox LIVE, PlayStation Network– Available Now): A killer zombie defense title, Dead Block drops players into the 1950s when the rock ‘n roll craze was first sweeping the nation – and creating an undead apocalypse as the deceased begin to rise and crave human flesh!
Supremacy MMA, 505 Games/Kung Fu Factory (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 – September 20): Supremacy MMA brings the brutality of unsanctioned, amateur and unlicensed MMA fighting to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 systems, favoring fast-and-furious game play and underground aesthetics over official branding and television-style presentation. The game raises the bar in the MMA space by bringing an unprecedented level of fast, fluid combat, intuitive controls and true-to-the-sport brutality, telling the story of up-and-coming fighters in their quest for supremacy.
That is the end of my coverage for Reverb Communications. It was great trying out so many different games, and talking with the exhibitors of Reverb. It was great couple of hours, and afterward, I thanked Reverb, and headed off toward my next, very exciting interview; Jumala.
I met with Jumala, at the Starbucks in Seattle, near the convention center, and had a chance to speak with Frank Savage, the CTO of the company. He was really nice, and seemed to be really passionate about his job, company, and what they were creating. I couldn’t find what he was talking about any more exciting myself!
Jumala-software was created to allow gamers, and coders, create their own worlds, and their own games! Jumala’s engine is similar to popular World Editors that Blizzard Entertainment created for their PC games Starcraft, Starcraft II, and Warcraft 3.
I’ve been a long time Map Creator for Warcraft III, and it was exciting to hear and see Jumala in action! The editor is very simple to use; you can pick and choose what to place with ease and create a simple trigger in order to create an action within the game. Jumala’s main idea is to combine the worlds of the professional game modders/creators, and the normal user, to allow them both to have the ease to create a game, and put their maps out for others to play.
The other great thing about Jumala is that it rewards people for creating games, for playing other people’s games, and, the more rewards you earn, the more points you earn to unlock more and cooler objects and features to add into your game! It’s a real incentive for people to create, not just for themselves, but for others! If people play and complete your game, you get rewarded, as well as the player who completed it!
I could spend a long time discussing how great an idea I think Jumala is, and how it’s such a new, innovative, intuitive idea, that everyone at some point should really check out. Jumala! It’s completely free, and you only pay with “Sparks” that you earn for completing quick and easy objectives! Jumala is available to download and use now at http://www.jumala.com/ . Check it out!
I had one last game-related interview on Saturday, with The Game Bakers. I had gone to a couple of other interviews on Saturday, they are RAZER and Turtle Beach, both hardware companies, companies that I’ll save for later on.
The Game Bakers
The Game Bakers, a company based in Paris and Montpellier France, showed off their game, SQUIDS, to me. They are creating the game for OS, Android, PC and Mac. “The game Squids was inspired by the game, Angry Birds”, Audrey of The Game Bakers, told me. When I tried out the iPAD version of the game, it was a beautiful looking game, with great backgrounds and fun touch controls. There are 4 squids that you can control, and each one has different abilities. One of them has healing abilities, another can shoot from a distance, while yet another has a wide area of attack. The object of SQUIDS is to clear each area of the enemies while following the story.
I tried to not pay attention to the story, so as to not spoil the game for myself or you, the Reader. This is a casual, yet fun game with a simple objective to each area of the game.
The game is still in development, but be sure to check their site out http://thegamebakers.com/ and when SQUIDS is out, give it
Thus ends my second day of PAX, it was a great day filled with many great games! I hope that I can get the chance to check out all the games again, if not buy them for myself to play again. I’m glad to have met so many great people, exhibitors at PAX. Everyone was so nice, and enthusiastic about their games, and I would do it again, no matter how exhausted I was over the weekend. It was well worth it!
Until next time, everyone! There is just one more day left of my PAX coverage, and it’ll cover the last of all the gaming from over the weekend.