I spent most of the day at PAX today, since I\’d never been to a gaming convention and there were a few games I wanted to check out. I actually didn\’t get to play too many of them (the lines were way too long for me to be standing around) but I did get a reasonable idea of how some of the games I\’m looking forward to are shaping up.

Left 4 Dead

Left 4 Dead is Half-Life 2.

If the whole game took place in Ravenholm.

And if the only enemies you ever encountered were fast zombies.

And if there were roughly TWO BILLION OF THEM on screen at once.

So yeah, this game looks ridiculously intense. Only the 360 version was on display, but it\’ll be hitting PC as well. The part that interests me the most is the promise of an intelligent \”director\” that will dictate zombie spawns based on how well you and your team are playing.

On a side note, hilarious convo I overheard at the L4D booth:

Guy: So how does the difficulty scale?
Valve Employee: <explains about the intelligent director AI>
Guy: And my other question is…when is the Team Fortress 2 content coming to the Xbox?
<long, awkward silence>
Valve Employee: So anyway, this game will be out in November…

Mirror\’s Edge

Annoyingly, I wasn\’t able to play this either. I got within 3 heads of the demo booth but then the PS3 that was serving my line crashed and had to be turned off. A wonderful waste of half an hour (which precluded my attending the Spore onstage demo in the main theatre…grr)!

That said, the game still looks good. It seems to emphasise maintaining momentum and finding the best route through the level, both of which remind me of the old-school Sonic games (except with a whole lot more death pits).

Battlefield Heroes

I tried this out in the corner of the EA booth. The cartoony art style is quite nice and implemented reasonably well, but the game feels a little slow for my taste…maybe I\’m too used to TF2\’s frantic pace, or the maps are way too large for the number of players allowed per map. I overheard one of the EA people mentioning that the game runs off the same engine as Battlefield 2142, if anyone\’s interested.

Valkyria Chronicles

This is the second game I got to play (largely because Sega\’s booth was basically deserted). Still, I was pleasantly surprised – this is a turn-based strategy game for the PS3 with a rather pleasant manga/watercolour art style. The thing that makes this one unique is that when you decide to move a unit, you can move it around from a third-person perspective on the battlefield. In addition, you can go into an over-the-shoulder aiming mode (much like RE4 or Gears of War) in order to attack enemy units (and the enemies seem to take different levels of damage depending on where you shoot them). Making your units take cover between turns is also important if you want them to avoid taking damage. Instead of each unit having a limited number of turns, you have a fixed pool of action points which you can then allocate as you see fit, for instance, moving certain units multiple times. I only played one mission so I\’m not sure how these action points are awarded.

Still, the game looked good, so it\’s one more to add to my PS3 watch list.

The Conduit

This game made headlines a while back when the developers announced the creation of a game engine for Wii that could produce effects on par with other current-generation titles. I got to see the game in action today, and it does look like the developers have succeeded in crafting a competent FPS for the Wii. I don\’t know about the graphic quality, though – while the weapon and enemy effects are well done, the environments look rather bland and samey. It looks competent at the very least.

Random tidbits

  • Fallout 3 looks very, very nice…no idea how it compares to the first two since I haven\’t played either one, but the basic quest structure etc seems to follow Oblivion pretty closely.
  • Starcraft II looks positively orgasmic but the queue to play it was way too long since each person got to play an entire match. It does look basically like Starcraft with a fresh coat of paint and some modern amenities, but that\’s perfectly fine as far as I\’m concerned.
  • Wii Music looks like rubbish…this was made even clearer by the Guitar Hero: World Tour booth set up right next to it.
  • No Capcom presence, except at the Udon booth, so no playable Street Fighter IV 🙁
  • Bioware was doing periodic showings of Dragon Age: Origins, but I decided not to attend, given my somewhat uneven experience with Mass Effect so far. Also, it was late and I was getting hungry :p
  • I saw a lot of families at the convention…definitely not something I would have expected!

All in all, the games I did yet to see and/or play were reasonably illuminating. I somehow think I would have had a lot more fun had I been with someone I knew, though…

2 thoughts on “Convention Tales”
    1. Valkyria Chronicles and Ryuu ga Gotoku/Yakuza 3 are easily the most promising things coming out of the console side of Sega in quite a while.

      On a side note, they had Yakuza 2 at the Sega booth but someone was already playing it and for some reason it looked like shit on the monitor they were using to display it (all blurry and crap).

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