PAX South ’15 Review

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For the first time PAX came down South to San Antonio, Texas and the results were far from disappointing for a first year run.  The first thing I noticed was there was tons of stuff to do.  I wish I had more people with me to cover all the panels, and events that were going on while I was waiting in line to check out the games that were on the Expo floor.  The layout of the San Antonio Convention Center was a little difficult to navigate through.  The schedule of panels only listed what room the panel was being held in.  With the convention center being three floors it was hard to figure out what floor you needed to be on.  I will talk about the one panel that I went to which was Sid Meier talking about his new game Starships.

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Sid Meier announced his new game called Starships.  It is a sequel to Beyond Earth that came out at the end of last year on PC.  Starships will be not only coming to PC, but will also be coming to iOS devices.  Right after that was announced I had an eerie feeling that this game will not be as big of a release as Civilization V.  His big thing that Sid talked about was how much of a sci-fi fan he is and when you dabble in sci-fi the possibilities are endless with what you can do.  The story I know very little about since I did not play Beyond Earth but it takes place with you branching out after you have established your planet to explore other regions.  As you do, you encounter other “people” that their sole purpose of course is to have everyone bow before them.  After the discussion was over Sid showed gameplay.  I compare the style to a regular Civ game where it is all turn based but with a hint of XCOM in the way the combat is played out.  You navigate your ships to specific areas on the map.  Once you position your ship, you are able then to use your attack option to take out any ships that are in the line of site.  The damage and chance to hit is dependent on if anything is in your path blocking your way such as asteroids.  The game is planning to launch Spring 2015, and my guess is this game will be around the twenty dollar price range.

 

The rest of the time I spent at PAX revolved around browsing the vendors, and playing any games I found at different booths most notable Elite: Dangerous, Dungeon Defenders 2, Super Slam Dunk Touchdown, Road Redemption, and Capsule Force.

 

When I sat down to play Elite: Dangerous I already had a clue to the type of game this is which is a space simulator from the cockpit view of a spaceship.  The demo I played had me out in space in a dogfight with one ship.  I was able to use a thruster, and flight stick which in my opinion is the only way to play this game as I could see this being very difficult to play with a keyboard and mouse.  The controls and ship moved very smooth, and arming missiles on the flight stick were very satisfactory.  I was able to take out the ship in about 2 minutes, and the developer came up and said, “I see you’ve played games like this before so I will put you on the advanced mission we have where you take on two ships on a harder difficulty”.  Needless to say I did not complete that mission and died within 5 minutes.  The ships were zipping around me and I felt like Goose freaking out in the end of Top Gun where he met his untimely fate.  The game looks great, plays great but with the investment of having to pick up a flight stick, thruster, plus the game I do not see myself getting my money’s worth unless it drops in price.  If you are a fan of flight simulator games as well as space combat definitely check this out.

 

The next game I played I was very familiar with as I own the first game.  Dungeon Defenders 2 takes what was so great about the first, and adds new character classes, abilities, and their own set of tower defenses you can set up.  In the first DD(Dungeon Defenders) you both played as wizards and had the same abilities and same towers.  It was two player co-op and you completed wave after wave defending your crystal.  This game ramps it up to 4 player co op with unique classes(Monk, Huntress, Apprentice, Squire).  Monk is your support, Huntress and Apprentice are your ranged damage dealers, and the Squire is your tank.  The towers that you build provide a good defense but are not able to hold against the waves of enemies so you must work together to combine your abilities to take them down.  The tornado from the apprentice mixed with Huntress exploding oil bombs does mass damage.  The game is a lot more polished than its predecessor which one would expect.  The game is currently out on Early Access on Steam/PC and will be out on PS4 sometime in 2015.  I couldn’t get a hard release date from the developer I talked to unfortunately but I am really excited to see this come out on console.

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Super Slam Dunk Football.  Not much to say except that this is one of the most unique, crazy, retro style games that has the nostalgia of games like Blades of Steel or Double Dribble in a 16-bit style graphics engine.  The game is 3v3 where you select from a football player, hockey player, roller blader, or basketball player.  Once you select your player the game starts with the retro sound of the end of the Star Spangled Banner which immediately made me smile.  The goals are on both sides with a hockey net, and basketball hoop.  The object of the game of course if to get the puck, football, basketball in the goal or basket of the opposing teams which has a goalie blocking the net but nothing blocking the basket.  When you attempt to make your shot if you time it right you will go into a cutscene straight out of Double Dribble where you have to time your button to hit right when you are about to dunk the ball, puck, or football.  It is recommended to use a controller as you move with the left stick, and A is your pass or shove, X is your shoot, B is to pass, and R-trigger to use your turbo.  The game is simple yet so addicting as matches last 2 minutes but so much can happen in 2 minutes.  You can download the pre-alpha of the game for free on http://tippinggoat.com/blog/super-slam-dunk-touchdown/ .  I cannot recommend this enough for anyone that has a fondness for classic games to check out.

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The last game I played is called Capsule Force.  It will be coming to PC and PS4 early 2015 but not exactly sure.  This game is simply like Nidhogg except with guns, two platforms, and 4 players.  You have two platforms that you want to stand on to move in the direction to get you to the end which holds the capsule you need to get before the other team does.  In the meantime you are trying to stay alive as long as possible.  It is a one shot kill style game so if you get hit you are done and will respawn within 3-5 seconds from the top.  You have the ability to hold down the fire button to shoot a laser that will kill anyone on the opposite team if they touch it which will disappear about two seconds after you shoot it.  The game is fast paced, crazy, and just as fun as Nidhogg but with more craziness and things going on.  You can read more about it here: www.capsuleforce.com/

 

It’s interesting to see how indie games are getting more and more popular as well as crazy.  They are built for short attention spans due to the mobile gaming craze that you are starting to see as children that started on mobile gaming as infants to children ages are starting to become teenagers to young adults.  I am not sure if this will just be a fad that will last a couple years as indie games are coming out in mass supply right now or if it will last a while since they are made for cheaper cost which means the games are cheaper than AAA titles.  PAX South was surely an incredible event, and I cannot wait for them to bring it back next year for PAX South 2016.

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