PAX East 2011: A Prelude To The Party
With Penny Arcade Expo East coming up in just two weeks, lots of hot anticipation as to what to expect this year is engulfing my brain cells. With a long list of exciting developers on hand this year there are huge reasons why you should pay close attention to one of the best gaming conventions to come around our dirty waters.
At PAX Prime last year 2K Games dropped the mega-bomb that was Duke Nukem Forever, with not just a new developer and semi-release date, but a playable demo, blowing everything E3 had that year out of the water. With it due for release in May I wouldn't be too surprised if more of the game -- along with a longer demo -- is revealed at PAX East. On top of that is the recently-announced The Darkness 2 and Spec Ops: The Line, whose video footage I remember fondly at last year's PAX East. Hopefully a playable demo will also be in full force at this year's convention, along with any other unannounced surprises.
Rockstar Games will be pulling out all their stops this year, with a (hopeful) demo of L.A. Noire. Since it was first announced I've been excited about this title, as I'm a fan of the classic detective stories that have kind of disappeared from our books and films. The overall look, sound and feel of the game just screams classic film style, and with Mad Men's Aaron Staton in the lead role you can bet that this will be one of this year's most anticipated titles. It would be cool, too, if something in the form of Max Payne 3 was in presence, as well, considering how long that one's been in development.
Nintendo needs but one number and two letters put together to make it a memorable year at PAX East: 3DS. With the American release date in March it would be very shocking if the Big N did not have anything regarding this year's most anticipated console release. In regards to the titles it would demo, I would put my money on such games as Super Street Fighter IV 3D, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell 3D and Super Monkey Ball 3D just to name a few. Still this is Nintendo we're talking about, so more surprises could be underway. I am very curious to see how watching movies on the 3DS will work, too, so I'm hoping for a demonstration of that at the event. In regards to the Wii, if they had anything regarding The Last Story and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword then Nintendo might just about win this convention.
Electronic Arts will be hosting five different booths at PAX East, so only one can imagine what they'll be showcasing. With Bulletstorm released this past week I would think the title will still be new enough for it to show on the floor (as they had done with Dante's Inferno last year). Dragon Age II will also be released on the week of the convention, in which case another booth would probably go to them. So what about the other three? If I were to guess I would put my money on three titles: Crysis 2, Shadows of the Damned and the long-awaited Alice: Madness Returns. There could be room for one more title, though my hopes of a Mirror's Edge sequel announcement have been put to bed by the news of its rejected prototype submission. A gamer can only dream, though.
Microsoft Game Studios only has to showcase one title to bring the heat out: Gears of War 3. With a beta key already in place for the Xbox 360 release of Bulletstorm the game could very well be ready for people to at least give it some sort of a test ride (i.e. a single player level and a couple multiplayer maps). You can't forget about the Kinect, either, so we could see such titles as Sega's Virtua Tennis 4 and Ubisoft's Michael Jackson: The Experience on the floor to try out. Sony might also bring their big guns with the upcoming releases for InFamous 2, Twisted Metal and The Last Guardian, along with a couple Playstation Move titles for people to get their hands on.
While most attention will be on these six gaming giants, there is reason to pay attention to the smaller companies. Twisted Pixel will be bringing their upcoming Ms. 'Splosion Man title, along with their Kinect game The Gunstringer. WB Games will probably have their weapons blazing with Mortal Kombat and Batman: Arkham City, the latter being one of 2011's most-wanted titles. THQ has both the new UFC and WWE games coming out soon, along with Saints Row 3, whose predecessor was light-years ahead of Grand Theft Auto IV. Autumn Games, whose Def Jam Rapstar has so far sold 320,000 units, might be revealing more about its 2D fighter Skullgirls.
While these big companies will also be gaining attention, it's best to keep a watchful eye on this year's Boston Indie Showcase. Last year's Devil's Tuning Fork from DePaul University still blows me away ever time I see it, and I still hope that Jason Pecho finds a publisher to help finish and release it. This year's has three developers in the spotlight. The first is Team Uncertainty, whose game Blinding Science has a lot of debt to owe to last year's biggie with its usage of sound as its main tool for getting around the levels. Next on the list is Owlchemy Labs and their iPhone title Smuggle Truck, a humorous take on sneaking immigrants across the border. Finally there's Retro Affect's Snapshot, a puzzle platformer that uses the power of capturing pictures to gain items and solve puzzles. These and many other games under the radar might just make it onto someone's Top Ten list at the end of this year, so be sure to check them out when you go to PAX East.
With so much to do at this year's PAX East there's no telling what amazing discoveries you'll find when rocking the game floor. Along with tons of panels and musical performances from Jonathan Coulton, Paul & Storm and MC Frontalot you can bet that there will be fun to be found at every corner. I personally cannot wait to witness all this and much more at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center on March 11-13, so keep your eyes peeled here on the Boston Bastard Brigade and Electric Sista Hood for all your PAX East wants 'n' needs!