Posted April 9th 2012 by Anthony DiPalma.
PAX has been arguably one of the single greatest videogame conventions catered to the consumer since it began in 2004, and this year proved to be no different. PAX East 2012 was spread over the course of three days, beginning Friday, April 6th and ending on Sunday, April 8th. We decided to head over to the Boston Convention Center this weekend and check out the latest games coming out this year, as well as gain some insight from the developers who make them. Oh, and you can win some prizes by reading, too.
The halls were packed with fans of all different videogame genres. Decked out in some great (and admittedly, some not-so-great) cosplay, the show was certainly a colorful event. I even saw a grown man in a Sailor Moon costume and ultimately I cannot get that horrid image out of my head. Regardless, the dedication that gamers have to their favorite series is something truly remarkable. Few other entertainment mediums can gain the devoted following that gamers have, and even fewer have the chance to attend an event where they can gather to celebrate their love of gaming while discussing the latest trends in the industry.
One of the largest conferences took place in the Naga Theater, as Epic Games (Gears of War, Bulletstorm) discussed the past, present, and future of the company. The panel consisted of Design Director Cliff Bleszinski and President of Epic, Mike Capps, who left notes of encouragement to upcoming developers and anyone interested in joining the industry. Specifically, Bleszinski stated that if you're looking to break into a career in videogame development, now is the time. Of course, he also stated that "you're going to make a ton of crappy games before you make a great game."
What truly stuck with me about the conference was that Epic, a company who has made a name for itself by marketing the most violent, over-the-top action games, is looking to expand in more ways than one. In particular, their upcoming title Fortnite has a completely different art style than anything the designers have ever done. Although no details about Fortnite were released, there was some discussion about Epic's love for the increase in social gaming.
For those who don't know, "social gaming" consists of many of those awful Facebook games that your half-dead aunt sends you every god damned day. (Auntie, if you're reading this, I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR STUPID VIRTUAL FARM.) Though it would be unfair to class all social games like Words With Friends, and Draw Something as annoying distractions. They are games, and by definition, playing videogames makes you a gamer.
The rise of social and mobile gaming was definitely seen firsthand at PAX East, too. A little over half of the booths at the Expo Hall consisted of smaller, independently funded games, which is great for everyone because those types of games are typically more affordable for the consumer and they support new developers. This is not to say that everyone is suddenly ignoring the bigger AAA titles, though.
2K Games (Bioshock 2, The Darkness) had the biggest showing, including a massive centerpiece featuring the characters of their newest title currently in development, Borderlands 2. I had the opportunity to play Borderlands 2 for 15 minutes in a co-op mode and it's safe to say that the game certainly fits the expectations set by its predecessor. Borderlands is a first-person shooter and role-playing game in which players assume the identity of one of four different characters with unique powers. Some players are able to turn invisible and flank enemies while others can set up turrets as they work together to wipe out waves of enemies, all while obtaining newer guns and "loot."
Fans have waited over two years for news about the sequel, and I assure you all, it doesn't disappoint. The action is better than it's ever been, the environments consist of variations of different colors and backdrops that truly show off the beauty of the graphics engine the game runs on. The guns (of which there are still millions) are well crafted and unique, each offering something special that will cater to everyone.
Of the big names at PAX, attendees also had the chance to meet the hosts of G4TV's XPlay and demo other upcoming titles such as the physics based motorcycle game, Trials: Evolution. Also in attendance were writers from Kotaku and Funny Or Die, as well as the co-founder of Irrational Games (Bioshock, Bioshock: Infinite), Ken Levine and lead developers for BioWare (Mass Effect, Dragon Age) who were actively critiquing portfolios for younger would-be designers and programmers.
The show was, as expected, a wild success. PAX continues to influence the industry and serve as a way for developers to keep in touch with their consumers. Speaking of keeping in touch, you guys should follow @NerdMentality on Twitter or "like" us on Facebook and await further instructions for a chance to win some sweet prizes fresh from the NerdMentality vault!
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