Searching for PAX in All the Wrong Places

[Thor and I were not the only ones who went to PAX East, of course.  According to estimates, over 60,000 PAXers were in attendance.  OTF guest contributor, Jay (3eeve), shares his thoughts on the inaugural East Coast gaming convention, both inside and outside the doors of the Hynes. –Ed.]

The Penny Arcade Expo. PAX. These words are synonymous with the gaming industry. The most important companies in electronic and tabletop gaming are all here, displaying their newest and most polished demos. Gaming rock stars like Chris Avellone happily imparted wisdom from one of many panels. Perhaps even more importantly, indie developers get a shot to strut their stuff. You can see real instruments, modified for use in Rock Band. You can find the most stunning Xbox Live Arcade titles. And more so than any other industry event, this one is for the fans. Basically, if there’s some sort of gaming medium you enjoy, there is a reason for you to attend. If E3 is the Mecca for our people, PAX is surely Medina.

This year marked the very first PAX East. Held in the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik brought their unique, wonderful, and influential event to the other side of the continent. They did not disappoint. The weekend kicked off with a stirring keynote speech by Wil Wheaton, followed by an immediate Q & A session for Gabe and Tycho. Then we were off to the races. Massive rooms of console and PC freeplay for all. Sign-ups for Dungeons & Dragons on two floors. Demos everywhere. Entire hallways devoted to tabletop games both famous and obscure. Any number of panels about all aspects of the industry.

I saw almost none of it.

PAX East: The Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands

Ubisoft’s Prince of Persia:  The Forgotten Sands returns to the glory days of the Prince, returning the game to what made the Sands of Time so enjoyable: high-flying acrobatics and crazy time control. Stepping aside from the fun-but-unfulfilling cel shaded 2008 Prince of Persia, The Forgotten Sands introduces a new

PAX East: Breach Blurs Lines between Downloadable and Retail Games

On the PAX Exhibitor Floor, Atomic Games’ Breach caught my eye not because of its impressive visuals or its solid gameplay (although both are indeed true of the game), but rather because of the small sign that hung overhead that said “Available on the Xbox Live Arcade.”  I took a quick look around to see if they were promoting another game that I hadn’t heard about, but, no, they were talking about Breach.

Why the confusion?  Well, basically, it looked too good to be a download-only title.

According to the press release, Breach “offers the kinds the innovation and features expected in a full packaged game” to the XBLA.

From the looks of it, I’d say they’re well on their way.

Breach is a first-person, multiplayer, active cover shooter that pits two teams of 8 against each other across four different game types.  Featuring five specialized character classes (Rifleman, Sniper, Gunner, Support, Recon), Breach has a certain level of tactical difficulty that will require more teamwork than your standard run-and-gun.

Destructable environments allow players ambush opponents by crashing in through ceilings or taking out the floor beneath.  Purchasable Battlefield Perks, like Bandolier or Explosive Personality, grant additional boosts to players, making them more deadly on the field.  Gadgets, like the Sniper Detector and the Remote Motion Sensor, allows players to detect hazards in the area.  And those are just a few of the things that make this XBLA game stand out.

Because of fully destructible environments, holes can be punched through walls to create an impromptu sniper position.

Inspired by the CIA Special Activities Division, Breach‘s gameplay reminded me strongly of Counter-Strike with a dash of Battlefield: Bad Company 2, if that makes any sense.  Not quite as frenetic as CS, you’ll spend your time behind cover (which, of course, will eventually get blown away), but when you do get out there, your kill shots will be felt.

The game’s visuals leave little to be desired, almost creating a new benchmark on what should be expected in a downloadable game aesthetic.

Armed with four expansive maps and 23 different weapons, Breach is expected to release this summer with an expected price of $15 (or 1200 Microsoft FunBux.)

See the press release after the jump.

PAX East: Fridgemaster’s List

As you probably suspected, there was much for us to do over the weekend.  PAX East is a rather sizable event, after all (moreso in population than in content.  For now.)  Still many opportunities presented themselves, and, while my attention was pulled all over Boston, I did what I could

PAX East Achievement GET!

What a weekend! More detailed posts will be coming soon but for now, I present, The Awesome List. Xbox 360 breakfast at the Msoft NERD (New England Research and Development) Center. Hands on with StarCraft 2 (Spoilers: It’s amazing) Hands on with the Microsoft Surface and the D&D tech demo.

The Wall

With Marvel making its grand announcement about Chris Evans snagging the part of Captain America, DC fires right back with a late addition to the cast of Green Lantern. Academy Award Nominee Angela Bassett (What’s Love Got To Do With It, “ER”) has taken the role of Amanda Waller, the ruthless

Open the Fridge Heading to PAX East!

Dearest reader(s), I hope you’re ready to gorge, because this weekend Open the Fridge will be filling the shelves with a slice of the PAX East pie!  Thor and I will be heading up to Boston (I currently write this at the airport; I suspect Thor’s on his way tomorrow)

“Video Games Live” to Record Performance for PBS

Video Games Live has announced that they will be recording their “immersive concert event” for airing on PBS during the summer.  Seeking to make this show the biggest VGL production ever staged, legendary co-creators Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall plan on adding more special effects, more screens, more special guests,

Nintendo’s Next Handheld Goes 3-Dimensional

Nintendo’s already got a surprising number of machines in the pipeline as far as portable gaming goes:  DS, DS Lite, DSi, DSi XL. Not content with just printing money, Nintendo announced today that they are going to be releasing the (tentatively named) Nintendo 3DS, which, according to the investor memo,

Another Look Into the Year 3000!

New Episodes on Comedy Central www.comedycentral.com Good news, everyone! Awesomeness wins again.  Futurama, one of Fox’s many incredible-yet-cancelled shows, has been revived.  New episodes are set to start playing this June on Comedy Central. Created by Matt Groening (Simpsons) and David X. Cohen, Futurama, set in the year 3000, follows