Saturday, August 25, 2007

PAX: Day 1 – First Impressions

Today the glory that is PAX began. We woke up bright and early… which is to say that it was light outside by the time we got up. We found some food and made our way to the Seattle Convention Center. The roads were familiar. It turns out that while getting lost on Thursday, I had accidentally taken us right past the building where PAX would be the next day!

Parking turned out to be easy. We parked in a big lot right under the convention center. And we hardly had to wait in line at all to buy our passes. So all that was left was to wait in line for the expo to start. And thus began our adventures of waiting in lines.

There were a lot of people waiting in line. Quite a lot. There were two big lobby rooms through which our line snaked. We discovered that the Nintendo DS was the handheld of choice – practically everyone had them. We waited for several hours while we talked to people and looked through the bags of swag we received. We even enjoyed a bottle of Bawls guarana, complements of the PAX Enforcers.

Finally 2:00 rolled around and we were herded up to the exposition hall. To make a long story short, I’ll summarize some of the things I saw:

  • Castle Crashers - Totally awesome. We got to play a demo level. The controls feel pretty tight. There’s a lot of polish on this game. I’ll be buying this when it hits the XBLA.

  • Mass Effect - The BioWare guys (and the smart, cute girl on the controller) showed us a demo of the first section of the game. I was totally impressed seeing it live. It’s a very sharp looking game. I can’t wait to play this. I’ve been excited for a while, but this confirmed to me that this is the #1 title on my list to play this Gamevember.

    Oh, and we got free Mass Effect t-shirts. Sweet.

  • Rock Band - Today I got a first-hand chance to find out about one aspect I’d been wondering about for some time: the drums. They are really cool. I got to play a song (I forgot which already) and it was a lot of fun. I felt like the first time I played GH1… fumbling around trying to figure out how to play. But I caught on pretty quick (I only played on medium) and I can tell that it will be something I’ll really enjoy once the game comes out.

    The drums are also pretty durable. One of them was having a little trouble registering the yellow hits, but they withstood quite a beating from all the players crowded around to play. While I was watching, somebody broke one of the drumsticks! The tip flew back toward me, so I grabbed it and pocketed it. The drums were more solid than the wooden stick at least.

  • Warhammer MMO - There was a booth with some 15-20 computers all set up to play this game. I only glanced at it today, but it looks pretty good. I’m not too interested in it personally, but one of my friends is, so I’ll check it out more tomorrow.

  • Wii - I saw some people playing the new Metroid Prime for the Wii. There was also some other RPG which I don’t know the name of, but it looked pretty interesting.

After hitting the expo hall, I caught most of a keynote talk given by Wil Wheaton (a.k.a. Wesley Crusher from The Next Generation). He was funny, witty, and clever. He told some awesome stories about his experiences playing games while growing up. And then he talked about how really gamers are not evil, violent, anti-social freaks. For the most part we are normal people leading normal lives and trying to have some fun along the way.

There are a few other things we saw which I should mention:

  • StarCraft board game – Looks complex and takes a long time to play. But the design looks cool and a lot of the units from the RTS made it into the game.
  • Ninja Burger – A Steve Jackson game. It was pretty funny. Easier and quicker than Munchkin, once you get the hang of it. But very similar in spirit.
  • Costumes – Besides the sweet Master Chief and the pirate booth babe which were a paid part of the expo, there were some other… interesting costumes. We saw the Black Mage from last year, a blue Link, 2 guys dressed as NOD officers (from C&C), and a guy with a robot head. But the one that takes the cake would be he whom I call Prince Peach. That’s right, a Princess Peach (i.e. Smash Brothers) costume. Worn by a man.
  • Bungie Store – They sold some cool Halo 3 stuff, but we most liked the little UNSC satchel.
  • FFVII on GH2?! – I discovered a modded PS2 in the console free-play area which had a lot of special downloaded songs, not the least of which was the boss fight song from Final Fantasy VII.
  • Pet Smuggling – As I was walking around the expo hall, some guy asked me to get him a “mini pet” or something like that from a nearby booth. I think it was for Guild Wars. Anyway, they were only giving out 1 per attendee. They marked my PAX pass, I gave the guy the little paper, and he gave me $5 for my trouble.

I also met up with a few of my old Squirrel Legion guildmates: Kapoc, Lactose, and Notricks. Good times.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to score a Sam & Max button. I’ll also be on the lookout for a Hidden Sandwich card from the Spoils TCG.