10 September, 2010

PAX 2010: Games

written by Blain Newport on Friday, 10 September, 2010

Motion Controls

Most of the Kinect demos were two players at once (and didn't look very interesting), so I only ended up playing Dance Central, which was fun. We keep hearing so many things about how one Kinect feature or another "will be added later". From what I could see, Kinect even had a hard time distinguishing the player from the background. There were enough people lined up to play it (and I've seen it often enough on Amazon's hourly sales charts) that I suspect it will sell some units. But I don't see anything there for me personally.

I at least tried a couple games with Move. There was a Lord of the Rings kiddie brawler. It played like a Wii game. I tried more mature fare with the Move edition of Heavy Rain. The the guy demoing the game was very nice, but the controls and icons were confusing. I've heard the standard controls are terrible, but the Move controls definitely aren't good.

Except for Dance Central, it looks like game developers still haven't got their minds around motion control.

On a related note, OnLive could be good for some people. It will let them play high end console and PC games without high end hardware. But the first time I pressed the fire button in Just Cause 2 and waited half a second for the guy on-screen to fire, I knew it wasn't ever going to be for me.

Plus the business model sucks. :P

Favorite Game

Gear - A bunch of the DigiPen games were installed on all of the PC freeplay stations. My favorite was Gear. The level design, physics, and scale were just right to keep me feeling like I was just barely in control. Trying to go through as much of the game as possible without touching the ground also helped keep it interesting.

Not Exciting, But Solid

The vast majority of the games I played were well made, but didn't really excite me. If you like the sorts of games they are, you'll probably like them.

The Ball - first person puzzler where you get a giant metal ball through a maze (needs some "standing on the ball" mechanics)
The Conduit 2 - Wii sci-fi FPS
Vanquish - Gears of War but more mecha (and minus co-op)
Hunted - Gears of the Rings
Infamous 2 - shoot lightning; climb on stuff
Lost in Shadow - maneuver through shadow casting puzzles
Two Worlds II - like Gothic 3, but with lots of customization (combat needs more zing)
Force Unleashed 2 - decent fantasy brawler
Solace - medium low difficulty bullet hell shooter with very good production values


Star Wars: The Old Republic: I played a quest and a half as the Imperial Agent. Aside from taking cover and a dialog tree it was a standard, boring MMO.

Darkspore (action RPG using Spore creatures): There just didn't seem to be much to do in the demo shown.

Monaco: Maybe it was just because the group I played with ran around like chickens with their heads cut off and could never seem to get to the exit, but I was hoping for more from the winner of the IGF.

Brink (thought I forgot again, didn't you)

Brink wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. The demo level seemed to heavily favor the defending side. The fancy movement system didn't seem to amount to much more than a sprint button that enabled mantling. The developers were constantly telling us to change classes, which I thought the objective system was supposed to do. When I followed the objective system it led me to the wrong side of a locked door. And with no bots in the match, there's no way to tell if the game will be suitable for Ozone's co-op events. The verdict is very much out on Brink.

Full Disclosure

I picked up free T-shirts for Brink, Fallout New Vegas, Hunted, Two Worlds II (two shirts because they had a "wear our t-shirt tomorrow and get a second design" promotion which tickled my fancy), and the Weekend Confirmed podcast.

Also, I saw a lot of games that could have fallen into the Not Exciting, But Solid category, (Kirby's Epic Yarn; Donkey Kong Country; Rage; New Vegas) but I only list titles I got hands-on with.

And as always, these are short demos. They may not reflect the final quality of the full games. And these are just my opinions based on my experiences in a crowded, noisy convention setting.

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