My Thoughts On PAX 2012
I was very lucky this year to be able to attend two days of PAX 2012. While not being able to play everything there (nor wanting to), I got to play a lot of games. Unfortunately, I know many of you couldn’t be there, and as such, I will give you my own opinions and reflection on PAX 2012.
If we look at the big 3: Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, in terms of how well they presented themselves at PAX, there seemed to be a clear loser in Microsoft. Microsoft didn’t really have too much to offer. Sure, they had Halo, but you can’t win on that alone. And yes sure, they did have quite a few games that Sony had too, but the controls on those games were inferior. This was quite evident in games like Sleeping Dogs, where the controls felt just plane wonky. It’s hard to describe without playing it, but everything from moving, to shooting, to punching, to countering, to…well almost everything felt a lot harder and uncontrollable. Talking to a few other people, they expressed similar sentiments. They also expressed to me the same complaints with other games that were ported to the 360. This isn’t to say that Sleeping Dogs is a bad game by the way, it’s freaking fantastic, and it’s still good on the 360, just not as good as on the PS3.
Which brings me to the PS3. In terms of games, PS3 was the clear winner. They had some games that were multi-console, like all of the Capcom games present (Tomb Raider, Hitman: Absolution, Resident Evil 6, and Sleeping Dogs, Tekken X Street Fighter) and others (like Borderlands 2, etc). But they also had things like The Last Of Us and God Of War: Ascension, both amazing games. Sony hit it out of the ballpark. They sent a clear message to the gaming industry that late 2012 and 2013 is going to be a huge time for Sony.
I’ll talk a little about God Of War Ascension. I played the multiplayer they had set up, and wow, that was a really good experience
And then we come to Nintendo. As most of you know, Nintendo plans to release the Wii U later this year (most likely on Black Friday). Many were wondering what the Wii U would be like. How would the controls feel? How would the games look? How were the games period? Well luckily I got to play a few games on the Wii U: Batman: Arkham Asylum – Armored Edition, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, Project P-100, and Trine 2.
I feel it’s important first to post pictures of the Wii U controller so that you understand what I am talking about:
I’ll start with Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. While playing the game, the Nintendo employee standing next to me assured me that the developers listened to fans’ complaints, especially in terms of the lack of gore. That was one of the first things evident in this game, there was more gore than a traditional Aztec sacrifice to Quetzalcoatl after an eclipse (that joke gives a little something extra to those who are knowledgeable of Aztec mythology). The game looked really crisp and fluid, things moving at lightning pace while still looking beautiful (and of course goretastic). The controls are really easy to pick up; however, from what I saw in the demo, there was little to no usage of the screen on the controller, something I was quite looking forward to seeing. All in all it was an enjoyable experience, probably because I seem to be a bit too good at killing endless amounts of people with knives.
So next up is Trine 2. I never played Trine 1 and had seen the trailer for it, so I knew a little of what happens in the demo. What I did not expect was that except for maybe 1 instance, the touch screen was unnecessary. You could just as easily use the buttons, which might be a bit more feasible considering you’d have to move your hand back to the buttons and control stick after using the screen, which is slightly annoying. The game was, as Ninja Gaiden was, quite smooth and really good looking, albeit as beautiful as a side-scrolling puzzle platform game can be. I noticed at one spot having a slight issue in aiming, but then I found out later it was because I was doing something the hard way. Again I enjoyed it overall.
Third is Project P-100. So a lot of people, including me, have been describing this game as a kind of cross between Pikmin and Viewtiful Joe. If you don’t know what it looks like, here’s a picture:
The basic gist is you control one guy who can recruit civilians to help him fight. You can recruit civilians by drawing a line on the screen to these civilians (which is actually harder than it sounds because you have to look at the main screen and draw on the touch screen). The fighting is pretty simple, just running towards enemies, basic attacks, evade, and block (which are relatively simple concepts that look different from what you’d expect). You have a choice of three weapons and can switch between them at any time by drawing certain shapes on the control stick or the touch screen. This is what the touch screen is mainly used for and 90% of the time the touch screen looks like this:
While some might think of that as convenient, it was actually quite hard. It require what I call “Advance Okami Drawing” in that to switch to a sword, you had to draw a straight line, and it couldn’t be off by a little bit. That’s basically it. Just imagine fighting big robots with Pikmin. I was a bit less satisfied with this game compared to the previous two.
Last but not least, Batman: Arkham Asylum – Armored Edition. Out of all the games I played, this one used the Wii U controller’s touch screen the most. Frequently I had to look down at the screen to do something, be it detonating explosive jelly, to throwing remote controlled batarangs, to enabling power ups, to switching weapons:
To cracking a password:
There really was a lot to do with the controller. Unfortunately, Nintendo (or Rocksteady) did something weird. If you look back at the Wii U controller picture, you’ll notice that the X, Y, B, and A buttons are set up in the classic SNES format. Thus, in this game, B is select and A is back. This threw everyone off, quite noticeably. Though, it’s really only a minor annoyance because you get over it pretty soon, especially when the fighting starts. I should add, the fighting is really smooth and crisp, something that is becoming readily obvious about all Wii U games.
In conclusion, I quite like the Wii U, and its games were enjoyable. I didn’t get to play all of them, but I came out of PAX quite impressed with Nintendo’s new system.
My recommendations are to consider purchasing a Wii U when it comes out, keeping up with the new games coming to the PS3, and staying the hell away from the Xbox 360.