PAX 2008 gaming coverage – part II

Just some general PAX related news:

XBox 360: Rumors continue to support a price drop coming September 5th.

Fallout 3: Bethesda promises to have some serious DLC to be released after the initial game.  Unlike Mass Effect which only saw ‘one episode’ of DLC which spanned about 90 minutes, Bethesda claims they will have multiple releases culminating in many more hours of content. Yay!

Resident Evil 5: Developer says they will be unveiling a controller scheme that will closely mimic the controsl fo Gears of War.

Halo 3: It appears there are rumors for an expansion pack possibly coming for Halo 3 as it’s been reported that at least 20 new achievements were recently spotted/leaked.

Little Big Planet: There will be a Best Buy exclusive skin that will let your ‘sack-girl’ emulate Nariko from Heavenly Sword fame.

THQ: Showed off quite a bit more of Red Faction: Guerilla multiplayer elements including ‘Team Anarchy’ and ‘Damage control’ modes.  Claims to have ‘very destructible’ environments.  Yay!

Destroy All Humans 3: Gameplay footage shown.  Takes place now in the 1970’s as opposed to the 50’s in the first two versions.

PAX 2008 gaming coverage – part 1

PAX 2008

PAX 2008

The Penny Arcade Expo was held this last week up in Washington State and helps showcase many small time and independant video game developers.  However the last few years, it has grown in scope to include major developers as well including Nintendo, Microsoft, EA, etc.  In addition to new video games be showcased, attendees can alos be seen playing both fantasy inspired table top games like Heroclix, Warhammer, and collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering.

This year attendance broke a new record with over 58,500 tickets sold and plans are underway to expand it once again, and even to hold an east coast version to be held in Botson, most likely in March of 2010.

So in no particular order, here is some information that was either revealed at PAX itself, or coincided in timing with the expo.

Gear of War 2: Confirmed this would be an XBox 360 title only, meaning no port to PC.

Fallout 3: Nearly completed.  Going through final bug clean up and beta testing.

StarCraft II: Blizzard announced a delay from late 2008 to early 2009.

XBox: It has been confirmed there will be an upcoming price reduction in Japan, making it the cheapest next gen console available in that country.  This most likely strengthens the rumors that yet another price cut is coming to North America sometime in early September, possibly as early as the 7th.

Mirror’s Edge: DLC content may only be PS3 exclusive once released.

Demigod: Developer, Gas Powered Games shown game play of their upcoming RPG/RTS currently scheduled for a Feb. 2009 release.  In the demo I saw being played, it looks very pretty and very unique with a lot of depth in its skill tree models (RPG element).  Has some steampunk elements to it as well. 

Rock Band: There are 3 PAX inspired tracks as DLC that were made available on September 2nd.  You can buy the tracks at a reduced price individually or as the PAX 2008 Collection.

Guitar Hero World Tour: Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan will be a playable character within the game as well as debut their new upcoming single ‘G.L.O.W.’ as part of an upcoming Smashing Pumpkins Track Pack as DLC for the game.

Gaming: Penny Arcade Episode 1

Penny Arcade Episode 1If you enjoy a satirical and sarcastic slant on your Sunday funnies, and have spent any time around MMO’s (especially WoW) then you’ve probably heard of Penny Arcade.

They recently joined with developer HotHead Games to introduce an episodic series of games based on their comic that debuted this past April.  Hence, Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness kinda reminds me of a flash player type of game set in a 1920’s Victorian steam-punk era.

It promised to be witty as well as a platformer and puzzler as well.  I will say I really do like the art style, and the few cutscenes are pretty cool.  The writing is very sharp at times, but at others I find the dialogue between the principles and a few other NPC’s a little tedious and redundant.  Even on my 42″ plasma monitor, sometimes the text is a little hard to read.

I also find the inital combat mechanics a little unforgiving in the early stages of the game, at least until your characters level up and improve their unique skills.  At that point, while combat may finally swing in your favor, (especially after some weapon upgrades) it still seems to come down to timing….being able to keep track of who turn it is on both sides and issue the correct offensive/defensive/powerups commands a cohesive and strategic manner.  I personally find it slightly frustrating at times and also very repetitive.  Some of the ‘humor’ is also questionable….as if they attempted to drop the f-bomb for humor sake, but after you ‘read’ it so many times in game, I’m not sure it remained funny, sharp, or edgy.

The puzzles are unique and there are a few mini-games to boot, but again, once the initial puzzles are solved, I’m just not sure I want to play them again.

I was also disappointed to learn that the game runs 1,600 Microsoft Points, the equivalent of $19.95.  While the art work is original and there are a few laughs, $19.95 just seems a little steep for a enhanced flash platformer.  And if you consider there are rumored to be 4 episodes, then to get the whole arc, players will be shelling out close to $80 when its all said and done.  If you compare the content, mechanics, and graphics to other games, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone except the hardcore PA fans to drop $80 on a Xbox Live Arcade game.  If they collected all these episodes and reissued on a disc, maybe, just maybe I’d pay $39.95 or $49.95.

Now that I’m almost done with episode 1, I really don’t see the need to replay it other to unlock some of the ridiculous achievements.  Some of the internal missions are just too long winded for me to sit through and complete twice just for 5 achievement points.

So with the news that Episode 2 is currently in development now (I don’t know the release date, but I’m gonna guess by the holiday’s this year), it will be interesting to see if players go for it.  I know I’m on the fence.  I may wait to read additional reviews or see if they follow a formula of dropping the price for previous content.  If they gave gamers a discount on future installments if you purchased the 1st one, I’d be more apt to buy it.  But another $19.95 for the same? 

To their credit, PA #1 supposedly ranked third in launch sales on Live Arcade, but I assume a lot of that was due to the initial hype and curiosity factor.  I wonder if they can keep up the enthusiasm for future episodes?