Posts Tagged ‘PAX 09’

PAX ’09 Coverage: Left 4 Dead 2

Friday, September 18th, 2009
Left 4 Dead 2 is a bit more wide open than its predecessor

Left 4 Dead 2 is a bit more wide open than its predecessor

It’s almost impossible to mention having been at PAX without someone familiar with the event asking if we were able to play Left 4 Dead 2. It seems to be on a lot of minds lately. Some of the most common questions I hear when I say I did in fact have the opportunity to play the demon are things like, “Is it all new characters?” or “Shouldn’t this be DLC for the original?”  Fortunately, not only did we play the game but had the opportunity to speak with Chet Faliszek, writer for Left 4 Dead.

To answer one of the questions, yes, it is completely new characters. From what I could gather from the demo, the second tale of the zombie apocalypse appears to be based on several individuals from a high school. There’s the gruff gym coach, who I played as, and what may be three students. It was hard to determine the history behind the new characters from the level we played through but there appears to be very little mention of the previous characters, if any, in the sequel.

In regards to the fact this will indeed be a seperate game and not DLC for the original, Chet had this to say:

“We wanted to do a different cast of characters so we could give a different perspective on the infection. We’re in a different place, we’re in Savannah, we’re down south, we’re heading across the southern part of the States. It wouldn’t make sense for the other four to be here, they’ve already experienced the zombie apocalypse from before we meet the new characters and been through it and now we’re seeing it from a fresh cast so we can experience through their eyes. The old characters aren’t dead yet.”

From playing the demo and Chet’s comments, it’s a safe bet that we haven’t seen the last of the original four zombie survivors but those hoping to make more fun of Francis’ name may just have to wait a while. And while we enjoyed playing as the new characters, we also asked Chet about if there would ever be “customizable” characters, player created models to shoot our way through the game with:

“One of the things is that each character has about three thousand lines of audio that’s created specifically for that character based on the attributes of that character, where they’re from, how they interact with other people. The characters are a really important part of these games. There are games that are more wide open in general but this is more scripted. You could make new models but to do the characters is a ton of work.”

"All we wanna do is eat your brains..."

"All we wanna do is eat your brains..."

There are also new special infected to contend with, among them the Charger who has a nasty habit of catching lagging players off guard, tackling them and driving them away from the group. While waiting our turn to play the demo and watching another group, one player was caught by a Charger and pushed into a mass of undead around a corner away from his teammates. The resulting carnage was impressive to say the least. Beaten nearly to death before being rescued, the Charger had proven his effectiveness.

Another special infected is the Jockey. While small and rather easy to kill, the Jockey often came out of nowhere and landed on one of our backs and then attempted to either steer us away from the group or into a much meaner, nastier special infected. Our group had the unfortunate experience of having one teammate steered into a witch who then proceeded to trash the party. Not easily dispacthed once he latches on due to his small stature and the danger of hitting a teammate while trying to shoot him of, the Jockey proved nasty comes in small packages.

The third new special infected was the Spitter. As the name suggests, he spits venomous phlegm that will continue to burn a player unfortunate enough to get hit as long as they stay in the area the spit covers. Shooting a spitter also results in a large splash of acidic goo which can often be fatal if done too close to the group. While we didn’t have much trouble with this one, I can imagine the implications of the Spitter in versus mode.

I've been trying to tell people clowns are evil for years now...

I've been trying to tell people clowns are evil for years now...

Speaking of versus mode, Chet confirmed there return of it in the sequel as well as the usual co-op, survival, and an as yet unannounced game mode which will be revealed some time in October. With the addition of new weapons, including melee weapons, new unique infected aside from the special infected, and new environments, it’s going to be hard to say that L4D2 should have been DLC for the original game.

Before leaving, we asked Chet who we owed an ass-whooping for what we here at Busy Gamer consider to be the insanely difficult Lighthouse level. He merely laughed at us and called us n00bs. Thanks, Chet.

Gritskrieg – End of Line

PAX ’09 Coverage: Wet

Monday, September 14th, 2009
Rubi Monroe is... kinda hot.

Rubi Monroe is... kinda hot.

While at PAX ’09, we made sure to stop by the Bethesda booth for a demo of Wet and to speak to Avi Winkler, a senior game designer from Artificial Mind and Movement, the developers of Wet. For those of you who have been following the game’s development, you may remember that it almost didn’t see the light of day when the bottom fell out of the project over at Blizzard Activision. Fortunately, Bethesda swooped in to make sure the ideal behind Wet came to fruition.

To begin, the game looks and sounds beautiful. Inspired by 70s grindhouse movies, there’s a gritty look to the backgrounds and characters that has to be seen to be fully appreciated. There’s a timeless quality to the game and the era in which the story takes place is never stated. The music sets the tone for each of the scenes and stays true to the overall feel of the game. And the voice acting… Well, more on that here in a moment.

The game plays out in true movie fashion. Doing away with a HUD, there’s only one way to monitor your character’s health. As you take damage, the “film” begins to stutter, like a movie projector with a lopsided reel. The more damage you take, the more the effect takes place until eventually, the film stops and begins to burn from the heat of the projector. It’s a very nice touch and easily one of the best means of eliminating on screen health indicators that I have ever seen.

The voice acting for the game is top notch. The main character Rubi Malone is aptly and beautifully voice by the lovely Eliza Dushku of Buffy and Dollhouse fame. Her voice fits the character perfectly and, as Avi Winkler put it so well, adds a very gruff kind of sexy to Rubi. Malcolm McDowell lends his signature voice as the chief bad guy, Rupert Pellum. As far as voice talent goes, this game has it in spades.


It doesn't just look awesome, the wall run *is* awesome.

In regards to the gameplay, there is enough here to keep even the most jaded shooter fan on the edge of their seat. Rubi can stand still and shoot her two pistols or hack away with her sword but it’s when the player begins to learn how to use her acrobatic moves that the game truly becomes interesting.

Rubi isn’t content to run in a straight line or duck behind cover to shoot at her enemies. She slides on her knees across the floor, runs up walls, flips, and swings from anything solid enough to hold her weight. Each acrobatic move automatically begins a slow motion sequence that allows the player to aim Rubi’s second gun at another enemy, allowing for maximum carnage as the levels progress. More stylish moves extend the slow motion sequences while still allowing the player the option to move and shoot without the acrobatics.

The acrobatics are key, however, for several reasons. To begin, there are usually too many enemies to allow for precision, shoot from behind walls or cover play. Avi demonstrated to me how to have Rubi wall run, leap from the wall, and while soaring through the air over my enemies’ heads, pump round after punishing round into their midst. When I was finally successful in performing the maneuver myself, I felt giddy as I hit the ground and managed to slide a few extra feet to extend the slow motion scene, picking off one last enemy before sliding to a stop.

There were several modes to play through at PAX. The standard run and gun which makes up most of the game, a Rage mode which bears a more thorough description, and finally a car “surfing” scene where the player must follow the on screen button indicators to move from car to car all the while shooting at the villians in the other cars.

Rage mode will make you feel like you're playing through a Tarantino movie.  Without all of the dialogue.

Rage mode will make you feel like you're playing through a Tarantino movie. Without all of the dialogue.

In Rage mode, Rubi goes berserk and the screen changes from the vibrant colors present in other levels and change to the primary colors of red, black, and white. The carnage in this mode is brutal and beautifully animated. Rubi leaps from enemy to enemy, shooting and slashing her way through them as blood sprays from her fallen foes. At the end, when the last foe fell to the ground, I realized how proud the folks at Artificial Mind and Movement must be to have finally completed this game. There will be those who say it is too violent, too bloody, too over the top for the general public but there is art here. A savage, beautiful art that has most assuredly caught my interest.

Wet is available in demo form on Xbox Live Marketplace and should be hitting stores for the 360 on September 15th.

Gritskrieg – End of Line

PAX ’09 Coverage: Mass Effect 2

Friday, September 11th, 2009
Commander Shepard comes in peace. His "little friend", however, is angry.

Commander Shepard comes in peace. His "little friend", however, is angry.

If any of you have seen my Gamertag on Xbox Live, you’ll know that I’m a Mass Effect fan. I can honestly say that Mass Effect is one of the perfect examples of a game that a Busy Gamer will want to steer clear of unless you have: A.) Vacation Time or B.) The desire to completely alienate your friends and family by disappearing for a couple of weeks while you beat the game.

Mass Effect is the only game to date that has inspired me to complete every achievement for the 360. Yes, I even beat the game on the insanity difficulty and yes, I am proud of that fact. There have been very few games throughout my life which could inspire that level of ambition. It’s been over a year and the N7 gamer pic is still flying proud on my profile.

Having explained all of this, it should be no surprise to you that one of the games I was most looking forward to seeing at PAX ’09 was Mass Effect 2. It’s possible that I may have even trampled a small child to get to the BioWare booth for a chance at the playable demo. And once I was done, I had to take a deep breath. While I was mostly pleased with the demo, there were a few things I noticed that made me wonder if I would have the same degree of enthusiasm for the sequel as I did for the original.

The good stuff:
The combat system is intact. Moving into a firefight, the controls felt familiar and I picked them up easily having committed them to muscle memory from the first game. This was Mass Effect at its best. BioWare didn’t fix it because it wasn’t broken. I found myself instinctively taking cover and waiting to line up my shots.

There are now heavy weapons in the game. In the original, you could count on having to use the hell out of your grenades for any kind of area damage outside of making a weapon nearly useless with explosive rounds. The weapons we saw were perfect for clearing out enemies who refused to move from cover. No more suicide runs to try and flank enemies solidly entrenched in an area.

Shepard lets his fear of crash test dummies get the best of him.

Shepard lets his fear of crash test dummies get the best of him.

While there are new characters, there appear to be a few favorites returning. One of the new characters is a Krogan who doesn’t appear to have anything to do with Wrex. Perhaps the story will explain why we replaced our favorite foul mouthed Krogan with the new kid. Tali appears to be around but whether she will be joining our squad or not appears to be unknown at this time.

The choices we made in the first game do apparently effect what happens in the second game. While it does not appear that Kaiden or Ashley will be joining us to wreck alien life forms, it is being said that the human you chose to save in the first game will be present in the sequel.

The graphics look largely unchanged and if anything, look to be even better. The backgrounds and cutscense are still beautiful.

The enemy AI appears to have been improved in many ways. I watched as one enemy used an assault rifle to keep me pinned behind cover as another tried to sneak around behind my cover for a clear shot. The improved AI also allows for greater squad control by allowing us to issue individual commands to our squad mates.

The bad stuff:
There isn’t much I can say about the game that is negative. Although I could go on a rant about not getting Wrex as a squad mate again. But that’s a personal preference.

Weapons have to be reloaded now. Whether this is a result of overpowered weapons in the original Mass Effect (two Frictionless Ammo X mods on your assault rifle resulted in a “Spray and Slay” weapon with practically no worries about ever letting off the trigger) or something the community requested, I can’t say I like this. Yes, my Soldier character had the insane assault rifle but not having to worry about running out of ammo let me concentrate on commanding my squad and making sure they stayed alive.

Old friends and new friends, the Squad you choose can make or break you.

Old friends and new friends, the Squad you choose can make or break you.

This is more of a fear than a bad thing but it looks like we’re going to be seeing a lot more of the Citadel in the sequel. In my mind, I had created entire subplots that could be carried out in the massive space station and only being able to travel to certain portions only fueled the fires of my imagination. Hopefully the mystique of the Citadel will be preserved while allowing us more access.

Overall, the game is shaping up nicely and with a predicted launch date of 2/1/2010, it’s actually closer to completion than I initially thought. I imagine the Reckon Crew will be mysteriously silent that week. Or not if the game fails to live up to our expectations.

We’re watching you, BioWare.

Gritskrieg – End of Line

PAX ’09 Coverage: APB

Thursday, September 10th, 2009
Is that a gun in your hands or are you just hap... Nope, that's a gun. Never mind.

Is that a gun in your hands or are you just hap... Nope, that's a gun. Never mind.

We played a lot of games at PAX ’09 that made us want to play more. We also just happened to come across one game that wasn’t playable that made us wish we could just play it for a few minutes. That game was APB (All Points Bulletin) and it’s looking to be the newest bad kid on the block. Published by EA Games and developed by Realtime Worlds, it is going to be impossible not to compare to Grand Theft Auto and harder so because of its origins.

Yes, it is the brainchild of David Jones, creator of the original GTA and yes, there’s the criminal aspect, taking missions to increase your ranking in the criminal world, driving cars haphazardly over pedestrians, and getting bigger, badder weapons to take out your enemies. That might be enough to compare it to GTA but APB throws a curve at the audience.

You can play as an Enforcer, the police in the world of APB. As an Enforcer, you take missions to safeguard businesses from the criminal element, also in order to increase your rank so you can get to the bigger and badder weapons and vehicles. You’ll follow criminals from a discreet distance in order to catch them committinga crime at which time you can choose to arrest them or put them down for the count with a well placed gun shot.

Still not convinced there’s a difference?  Imagine all of the above but in an MMO. Yes, now you’re on to something.

While the creators of APB are hesitant to call the game an MMO, there’s some of the best aspects of MMOs for flavor. You can group up with friends to wreck things as the Criminals or protect and serve as the Enforcers. Each group has its pros and cons but ultimately, it’s the gameplay that’s the draw.

The video we viewed showed actual gameplay footage. As the programmer gave a guided tour of the city, we saw firefights burst out in the street, we drove under an Enforcer and a Criminal opening fire on one another on a catwalk high above the street. We even saw one ill-fated group of criminals ran over as the demo began.

As the scenes unfolded, we witnessed gorgeous backgrounds, beautiful vehicles, and intense fights. As the programmer parked the car, another vehicle drove up next to him. The other vehicle had the radio on and as it pulled away, we could feel the bass of the track they were listening to vibrate our tailbones.

The screens may be from E3 but the images we saw were just as good looking.

The screens may be from E3 but the images we saw were just as good looking.

The missions we were privvy to as the game played out were varied. There was an armored car mission with two Enforcers driving to different locations to pick up the items to be delivered. As the last item was loaded into the truck, the Enforcers were attacked and split up as the Criminals tried their best to steal the cargo. One gunned his way back to the armored truck while the other ran to the street and commandeered a vehicle. Able to meet back up on the road, the two fought to stay on the road to the delivery point while the Criminals engaged them in vehicular combat, trying to run the armored truck off of the road.

Once at the deivery point, the two jumped from their vehicles and a firefight broke out on the street. While the combat was short, it was savage. The Enforcers emerged the victors and managed to deliver the cargo to its destination.

We also watched as the Enforcers responded to a call for backup. Driving up, there were various Enforcers shooting it out with Criminals. Our two heroes jumped into the fray and shortly after, were able to assist their fellow officers in securing the area while arresting or killing the Criminals.

After the video ended, we were able to ask a few questions about highlights of the game and discovered the following:

-There will be “PvP” servers called Chaos servers where it’s every man for himself. Criminals can interfere with any Enforcer mission, attacking and even killing the Enforcers. The same holds true for the Criminal missions so it’s not a one way street.

-There will be no levels per se, only ranks achieved through the amount of missions completed and time spent in the game. No more level grind.

-Higher level weapons will become available to each of the factions as they progress through the ranks. The fights won’t be a matter of who brings the biggest gun to the party but a matter of tactics and numbers.

-Initially the game will only be available for the PC but there is more than a little work being done to bring the game to to consoles relatively close to the PC launch.

While it’s too early to tell if APB will be a hit with the masses, we can certainly say the Reckon Crew was impressed. We’ll be waiting patiently for our chance to trash some baddies, or goodies, when the game launches.

Gritskrieg – End of Line

PAX ’09 Coverage: WoW Cataclysm, Azeroth gets a makeover

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009
You won't make fun of us for much longer. Goblin Crotch Punch, Activate!

You won't make fun of us for much longer. Goblin Crotch Punch, Activate!

One of the highlights of the Penny Arcade Expo this year was the playable demo of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. At least it was for the Reckon Crew since we’re big WoW nerds. We were able to play with both of the new playable races a bit and sat through the video Blizzard has put together showcasing some of the new features that will come with the expansion.




Two new playable races will be available with Cataclysm, the Goblins, who will join the Horde, and the Worgen who have decided to join with the Alliance. The Goblins you already know if you’ve been to the majority of the neutral cities scattered throughout the world of Azeroth. Engineering gurus, the Goblins racial abilities will be based on the technology they create. The first item, a rocket belt, will allow you to leap forward a great distance, similar to a warrior’s charge or more closely resembling the pounce ability of druids in cat form. They are also able to summon an assistant of sorts which allows them to access their bank slots.

The Worgen may be perhaps a little less known, having languished in the southern portion of Silverpine, the Greymane Wall, for some time since Burning Crusades became available. The Worgen are a group of humans with a terrible curse, that of lycanthropy. The quest for their humanity is foremost for the player when beginning in their starting area, eventually leading to the control of the curse. Able to take human form at will, the Worgen are unable to overcome their animal side when angered, changing into their wolf-like form when attacked or when initiating combat. Most notable of their racial abilities is a Sprint ability that is accessible in the wolf form.

Look, we're a couple, get over it. We have our differences but flea powder will always bring us together.

Look, we're a couple, get over it. We have our differences but flea powder will always bring us together.

The story behind the events leading to the Cataclysm is that an ancient evil has risen from the depths of the Maelstrom. That’s the hurricane looking thing in the center of the map of Azeroth you’ve been staring at for the past five years if you weren’t sure. The ancient evil is none other than Deathwing himself, the most fearsome of the Aspects, the Dragonflights charged with protecting Azeroth. Somewhere along the line, Deathwing went mad and sought to conquer the other flights and has been hiding, or perhaps slumbering, for several hundred years.

As Deathwing is unleashed on the world, the face of Azeroth is changed by the destructive energy of his escape. The Barrens has been ripped in two by a fiery chasm, entire forests have been burned to the ground, and the islands near the Maelstrom have become unsafe. While much of the land is visited by destruction, some areas appear to have become fertile. Desolate areas such as… Desolace have become lush forests, life returning in force to those places that barely sustained it before the event.

The level cap will be raised to 85, a move sure to disappoint some players who feel they’ve barely had time to experience the Wrath of the Lich King content. Yeah, all that purple gear you’ve been collecting? There’s going to be some new greens that make your gear look like the attire of a country bumpkin.

Flying mounts will be able to take advantage of the new landscape, allowing players who have flying mounts to view the destruction and regrowth of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms from on high. And apparently the event will inspire the existing races of Azeroth to take up new professions. Human Hunters, Blood Elf Warriors, Dwarf Shaman, Tauren Paladins, the list goes on. Don’t get your hopes up too much though. Rogues still don’t allow anything with hooves to join the guild.

There’s a new profession in the works, archaeology. While there is little information in regards to the new profession, it apparently allows players to discover and use ancient devices and technologies that have been dormant until the recent events. Overhauls are in the works for the existing crafting professions, providing a much needed boost to the lower level items they create rather than just grinding through for skill points.

It’s been stated by Blizzard that there will be a minor upgrade to the graphics engine, however, if it was in place for the playable demo, I couldn’t see any major differences. There is an announced underwater area which was unavailable in the content we played through so perhaps that is where we will be seeing the upgrades.

Announced on the WoW site is overhauls for existing dungeons including level 85 heroic versions of Shadowfang Keep and the Deadmines. Hopefully, the overhaul will include upgraded content for some of the older dungeons as well.

While we had to manage our time and only saw a portion of what was offered by Blizzard at PAX ’09, we were impressed with what we saw. There are currently only rumors of a launch date for the new expansion but we’re hoping for just a bit longer with Wrath of the Lich King before Blizzard swallows our souls all over again.


Gritskrieg – End of Line

BusyGamer at PAX, Day 1

Friday, September 4th, 2009

Crutchboy and Gritskrieg took a moment from wandering the Expo to record thoughts about the convention so far, for posterity’s sake of course. We talk about World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (ed. note – Gritskrieg says the new Alliance race is the Wolvar when it’s actually the Worgen, his bad), Diablo 3, Starcraft 2, Wet, Brink, and Dungeon Fighter Online. There’s a lot to see so we’re headed back to the floor to try out some more games and score some interviews so stay tuned…

-BG Crew