So I’m sitting here in tabletop gaming at PAX East 2011. I hear around that there are more people here than at the largest turnout Pennsic War has ever had. Pennsic, for those of you who aren’t in the know, is a SCA event in Pennsylvania and is so large they get a zip code for the two weeks a year that they’re there. I have tried so many new and different games this weekend. And tried out some new gamer tech. Here’s the run down of what’s here.
Nintendo – Man, apparently these guys need three booths to manage. You’ve got the Pokemon booth with Inflata-chu above it. That one is advertising the new Pokemon TCG online play. Apparently its free. It looked pretty much like any of the other play a trading card game online king of programs. The next booth was for the 3DS. Ok, I tried this little bugger. Neat concept. I’d personally wait for a later iteration. It works as advertised, no need to wear 3D goggles or anything like that. But the same time, the graphics were a little fuzzy. I don’t know if that’s because of my eyes (which I doubt since I have extremely good vision) or if it was the game itself. I also found myself starting to get a headache that felt suspiciously like eyestrain. I hope that they can work those bugs out in a later version. The last Nintendo booth was for the Pokemon Black and White games. Nothing surprising there. Just another Pokemon game.
Star Wars Old Republic – Now that’s what I call advertising. They had a giant booth with a stage and plenty of places to try out the game. They also had a bunch of people wandering around in costume, including Darth Maul, Darth Vader, some clone troopers (or storm troopers…I can’t really tell the difference) and Obi Wan Kenobi. The lines have been too long for me to get a chance to try this one, but man it looked impressive.
Most of the booths were either computer parts or first person shooters. I’m not going to lie, I hate FPS games with a passion. There was one though… Its called Chivalry. I was talking to the dev team for a while and this game sounds amazing. Take the Unreal engine, now use swords and poleaxes and crossbows and things like that. We’re talking a full scale epic simulation of medieval tactics and combat. They’re planning on going into beta this summer. People should make sure they check it out. Its by Torn Banner.
Here are some other hi-lights of the games coming out soon. Bioshock 2 and Portal 2 looked very impressive and promise to please. As does Guild Wars 2. Dragon Nest is a new free to play, micro-transactions style MMO coming to us from NOXON and it looked very very good. Cartoony anime graphics, but the gameplay looked promising. Plus its free, which is always my favorite price. And you’re going to want to sit down for this next one. Duke Nukem Forever. That’s right. Duke Nukem Forever. I’d say it a third time, but he might be like Hastur and I’m not keen on having my ass kicked while he chews gum…and he’s all out of gum. They’re actually demoing the game. That means it has to be real. So…the booth. Oh man…the booth. We’re talking classy. Like, chandeliers classy. There’s also a giant throne. It was impressive. Also making a showing was Firefall, a very impressive looking FPS. I’m not a fan normally, but this one had some stellar graphics and while I didn’t play it, my dad did and he said it was class based and once he figured out the controls, pretty easy to play.
There was another really nice medieval combat game being demoed by Kalypso. Its called The First Templar and its for the Xbox360. Its a two player game, a real two player game. The screen is split so that each player gets half of it. Like, vertical line down the middle split meaning that its perfect for all these widescreen TVs people have. My favorite feature was the ability to switch characters so that you can use both sets of powers during single player play.
And the game I was waiting for: Rockband 3 with Pro keys, Pro guitar and Pro drums. Pro drums is amazing, but I’ve known that for a while. Pro keys, also amazing and it really rewards people who actually know how to play a keyboard. And last but not least, Pro guitar. Ok…I feel like this one has the highest learning curve of the three, which makes some sense. Its probably easier with a lot of practice or with actual guitar experience. So, there are 17*5 different buttons on the Pro guitar. As in, 17 rows of 5 buttons. Plus 5 different strings for the strumming. It is intensely hard, even on easy, when you first pick it up. I was starting to catch on after a while but wow, that was hard.
In non-video game land, I have some definite recommendations. First up, Innovation. This is a civilization building card game. Its very nice, fairly simple and involves a lot of thinking. They were demoing it at Foam Brain and it was amazing. Speaking of Foam Brain, one of the other games that they were selling is fantastic. Its called Zombie Dice. Good luck finding it though, since every single vendor carrying it at PAX ran out before the second day was over.
Those of you interested in table top roleplaying, I have two pieces of news for you. First off, Wizard of the Coast recorded their first ever PERFECT SCORE for the DMs Challenge this year when it was won by Matt Brenner. The adventure was for 8th level characters and the theme was in a dragons lair. For anyone who is interested, I’m pretty sure he said he’s going to try and get it published. The second is that I finally found a roleplaying system that I think can do everything a table top needs to do with none of the being bogged down in rules forever that you get from some universal systems (see also: GURPS) Its called Fudge. I intend to run a game of it and write a review. Hopefully it lives up to its potential.
As a note, I wrote most of this stuff at the con on sunday, despite the fact that its not being posted until monday morning.