Penny Arcade - Make A Strip
Our entire group piled into the Penny-Arcade "Make A Strip" panel. Before it started, they were running game trailers. Most were stupid and boring but at one point I looked up to see what appeared to be spaceships and a video of pure awesome. An EVE Apocrypha trailer! How wonderous!
Soon after, the panel started. The entire purpose of of it is pretty much to watch Gabe draw the actual PA comic on a big screen so that everyone can get an idea for how he does it. In tandem with this, Tycho answers questions during a Q&A session for people in the audience. As an unexpected surprise, Scott Kurtz had to stand-in for the beginning as Tycho was busy thanks to his wife having delivered a baby earlier in the day. Part-way through he showed up anyhow, reinforcing my shared opinion that video game conventions trump everything, even your newborn children.
Exhibition Hall - Lots Of Stuff
With a good chunk of time open, I attempted to examine what was being shown in the exhibition hall. It was much larger this year than when I had last attended in 2007 and there were so many games I was interested in that it was almost too much to handle. I took a quick glance at the Blizzard booth and their huge lines around the Starcraft II, Diablo III and WoW: Cataclysm kiosks and decided to leave it alone for now (more info on Blizzard stuff will be in the next post about PAX Day 3).
Bioshock 2 - I played the original Bioshock on the XBox 360 and while I felt it was way, way overhyped, I still enjoyed the game quite a bit. When I first heard they were capitalizing on the games success with a sequel I was very skeptical but after watching the demo video I can say that all my skepticism has melted away. The game is actually a prequel to the events that happened in the original game and they have you playing as the original big daddy character. There are now sequences and areas that are outside of Rapture and underwater and the combat as a big daddy looked quite solid. I am now looking very forward to playing this.
Left 4 Dead 2 - I walked by this booth several times but I didn't actually bother getting into the long line or spending much time watching people play. What little bit of gameplay I did watch seemed pretty much identical to the original L4D, although I did notice one guy running around slicing zombies with a katana. Melee weapons do look fun.
Beatles: Rock Band - There was a pretty big setup for this in the very back of the hall. The game looks pretty much identical to Rock Band 2 except for the addition of multiple vocal tracks that display in the vocals section at the same time. Seems like a cool addition but I cannot honestly see spending money for that and some Beatles songs (and I actually do like the Beatles). From what I have been able to tell, some of the normal parts of Rock Band have actually been removed for this version of the game which just further enforces my WON'T BUY feeling towards it.
Mass Effect 2 - As much as I love Mass Effect, I only spent a short time in this booth and didn't stand in line to play. I don't really have any urge to try to get in 5 minutes of play for an engrossing single player game in a loud busy room where I will only be teased and won't be able to enjoy it. That being said, it looks like Mass Effect should look and I will be standing in line to buy and screaming like a happy little girl the instant it comes out.
Nintendo - They had a booth full of a bunch of good looking stuff including Kingdom Hearts DS, Metroid Prime Trilogy and New Super Mario Bros Wii. Nothing absolutely show stopping but still some pretty solid stuff.
Scribblenauts - This seemed to be the "it" game of the show. It didn't have a huge booth but everytime I passed by this DS game it was mobbed with people trying to play. I also heard it mentioned several times by other attendees and even during some of the panels. For anyone not familiar with the Scribblenauts premise, it is an action/puzzle game where your goal is access and gather stars. Sounds pretty normal for a video game until you see that the tools you are given to achieve your objectives are... well... almost anything. You simply write down the name of an object using the stylus and if it's in the list of the 10,000 objects that exist in the game, you will spawn it and be able to utilize it. I heard stories about people spawning Bikes, Boards, Tornados, Cthulu and even Jesus himself. I simply cannot wait until September 15th rolls around to go pick this one up. Extremely cool looking.
Other Misc Pictures
From The Exhibition Hall:
From The Exhibition Hall:
After a long day of panels and gaming, we stepped outside to get some fresh air and partake in a nice cigar break. In normal PAX style, it did not wind up being nearly as boring as it sounds. We met a wonderful young fellow named Reginald (not his real name but I just like Reginald better) who began telling us a plethora of wonderful dead baby jokes. What is the difference between a pile of dead babies and a Ferrari? I don't have a Ferrari in my garage! Oh my.
Reginald stuck around with us for much of the night as we visited the nearby Sheraton bar for drinks (and Bomberman DS) and then went to the PC Freeplay room at the expo to play some Team Fortress 2.
After another long day and another expensive beer, my wife and I entered the Main Hall in order to view the last half of that nights concert. We saw the end of the Paul & Storm set and then all of Jonathan Coulton's show. After rousing renditions of "Skullcrusher Mountain", "The Future Soon", "Still Alive", "Re: Your Brains", "Code Monkey", "My Monkey" (but sung to Wil Wheaton) and others, he finished off his set with an encore of the extremely romantic "First of May".
Entertained and exhausted, we headed back to the room and I only vaguely noticed that the clock said 3:00 AM as I drifted off to sleep...
To Be Continued - Penny Arcade Expo 2009 - DAY 3!