Another PAX has come and went, and while a lot of you may be saying, “Wait, wasn’t that like two weeks ago…” let me just remind you that I’m but one man and that I’m still recovering from the lack of sleep and the amount of stuff I had to see. I’ve had a chance to finally sit down and let the experience wash over me a bit and took the time to write up about some of the press demos I was able to go to, so why not go over everything I saw and give a brief overview of my impressions? And as a side note, I have longer previews written up for everything at my own personal blog (which you can find here), so I’ll include the link for further reading. That said, let’s take a look at what I saw at PAX Prime 2011.
Firefall: (longer preview)
My first press demo ever happened to be Firefall, an MMO that was announced at last year’s PAX. The gameplay revolves around either a first-person or third-person shooter perspective and tasks you with searching around an open world, mining for a precious super resource. You can move around with a jetpack and get together with teams to either defend areas or push forward in your goal to spelunk everything.
I’m not very experienced with MMO’s so I was extremely bad with the needed finger gymnastics (which weren’t uncommon for a standard PC title). Regardless of my pitiful abilities, I found myself really enjoying the experience, probably because of that aforementioned jetpack. The art style also really appealed to me as it’s not going for a realistic aesthetic but rather something closer to Borderlands or Team Fortress 2.
The best part about Firefall is that despite how expansive and ambitious it is, it will be entirely free to play. That right there is enough to get me interested, assuming I can convince my PC to learn how to run anything made after ’96. Look for Firefall by December of this year.
TopWare: (longer preview)
My second day at PAX had me heading to a fancy hotel room to see three games developed by TopWare Interactive. The first was the expansion to Two Worlds II called Pirates of the Flying Fortress in which you pick up right where Two World II leaves off, sending you in search of the pirate captain Ed Teal, supposedly so evil that he’s rumored to be born without a soul. You know, like all good pirates should be.
I sadly haven’t played Two World II yet (I’m talking with my TopWare contact to get some review codes so that I can give the full rundown of Pirates of the Flying Fortress), but just taking a look at the graphics had me stunned. I’m not the type of person who really cares about realistic graphics, so when I have to stop the TopWare rep just to gush over the way the landscape looks in the game, you know it must look great.
Following up the awesome preview of Two Worlds II’s expansion were not one but two games very early on in development. The first was another pirate game called Raven’s Cry, a game that will send you as Christopher Raven on a quest to slaughter all the pirates that wronged him and murdered his family. So a pirate game where you get to actually be a pirate. Kudos to that.
The second game was a much stranger breed. Scivelation is a story set in a post-apocalyptic future where the Christian version of the End Times as described in the book of Revelation actually happened, leaving behind a world ruled by a corrupt government that takes Christian doctrine and skews it heavily in order to control everyone. That’s a concept I can entirely get behind, so I’m intensely curious to see how it plays out by the time of release. Pirates of the Flying Fortress is releasing soon while Raven’s Cry and Scivelation are at least a year or so off.
SQUIDS: (longer preview)
I was a little worried to go to my press demo with The Game Bakers and their game SQUIDS as the invitation emails told me that it was the first game from a new studio that had broken away from Ubisoft, so part of me really didn’t want to offend them for any reason, even by accident. All worries faded away when I got a chance to see SQUIDS, an iPhone and iPad game that tasks you with leading a group of squids on a journey to save their undersea world from a brainwashing black sludge.
The biggest aspect that pops out is the art style. SQUIDS is absolutely beautiful in every sense of the word. Going for a bright and colorful cartoon style, the personality of the game jumps right out at the player, grabs their eyes, and refuses to let go. Gameplay is simple as you fling your squids around by pulling their tentacles, but despite the simplicity the game is addictive and has a good deal of strategy going on since each squid specializes with different abilities, so for instance one squid can shoot and attack from a distance while another can do a ground pound that damages all enemies nearby.
Everything makes sense when you consider The Game Bakers are fresh off of developing gritty realistic games for Ubisoft. SQUIDS is anything but gritty or realistic, and I’m entirely in support of it. I hope to see it on the bestsellers list this holiday season, but watch for it to drop soon so that you don’t miss a second of this game.
Archibald & Remus: (longer preview)
My very last scheduled press demo sent me to SRRN Game’s booth and had me demo a tower defense game titled Archibald & Remus. While on its surface the entirety of the gameplay mechanics boil down to the simple “place towers, stop waves,” the real heart comes from the characters of Archibald and Remus themselves. As you’re playing, they’re bickering off screen, arguing back and forth about this and that, which is something I haven’t seen before, especially not on an iPad game. It was rather refreshing to say the least.
That humor aspect is what was front and center during the demo as the two titular character chatted on while I built towers that could launch cows and shoot bees at enemies trying to storm the castle and take it back from our heroes. Oh, and did I mention that our heroes are actually squatters? Aha, a nice little twist there! Look for Archibald & Remus later this year.
Crimson Alliance: (longer preview via The Escapist)
Those who’ve played the Gauntlet games will be right at home with Crimson Alliance seeing as how it’s essentially the same game with some minor differences (from where I was playing at least). The controls were smooth and the action was enjoyable, but the real draw and the main reason I think Crimson Alliance will be talked about comes down to its sales model.
Anyone purchasing the full game for 1200 MS points will have access to all three classes of characters- wizards, assassins, and warriors- but if you’re the type of player who prefers to focus on a single class, let’s say you’d just be a warrior, you can pay a reduced 800 MS points and only use that one class. An a la carte model for a download title is perfect and exactly the sort of thing we’ve been asking for as gamers for a long time now. Let’s see more like this, please!
And that covers everything not Nintendo related that I played firsthand from PAX. Come back next week for a full preview of Nintendo’s holiday lineup!