My PAX Faves

Posted on September 9, 2009

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There’s a game that people in the game industry play, and here’s my entry. The game is going to a convention and then explaining which games you saw were your favorites, and why. Partly, it keeps us honest. When you’re company pays you to go to a convention, that’s work. Your work is looking at games, seeing what’s hot, seeing what’s innovative, and seeing what’s generating excitement. I went to PAX on my own, so I can just talk about things I liked.

  • Brink: I started gaming with turn-based strategy games, but fell in love with first-person shooters with the original Castle Wolfenstein. So when I saw Brink up on a big screen at PAX, I was hooked. It looks gorgeous, allows you to change character classes on the fly, and includes a pop-up, wheel menu, mission selector. It’s definitely my cup of tea, although I must say their website is too clever for its own good.
  • Darkest of Days: In this shooter, you travel through five different time periods, trying to keep time “pure.” If you make mistakes, you may have to replay a bloody battle from the other side to set things right. The promise of being able to take modern and ancient weapons into historic battles gets me drooling.
  • The Secret World: What if it were all real? All the legends, all the myths, all the conspiracy theories – all true. What if three groups with different agendas¬† knew about it, and were at war? That’s the heart of The Secret World. From the people who brought us Age of Conan, The Longest Journey, and Dreamfall, this MMO promises puzzle-solving, exploration, and adventure. The idea of a “secret world” is very powerful. It lay behind The Matrix, and has been the source of countless novels.
  • Star Trek Online: The next big thing from Cryptic, STO promises us MMO adventure in the Star Trek universe. That either gets your motor running or it doesn’t. I saw some playable material at PAX and it looked pretty good. I certainly want to check it out.

Last but not least, this week Dungeons & Dragons Online went free-to-play. Like all free-to-play MMOs, this one actually follows a micro-transaction model. Your client and account are free, but all the cool stuff costs you money. The upside is that you can play all you want for nothing, and only buy the things you really want. The downside is that the most basic game can feel pretty limiting when you see all the cool stuff the elite players can do.

Oh, and although there was a documented outbreak of H1N1 swine flu at PAX, so far I missed it completely.

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