The Top Ten Games of PAX East 2011

The Top Ten Games of PAX East 2011

  • By: CM Boots-Faubert
  • Posted 22nd Mar 2011

The exhibits have all been broken down and shipped back to their respective homes to wait for E3 later this Summer, and here at Gaming Update we are still sifting through the mountain of notes, photos, and contacts that we acquired at the Expo -- though today we have our Top Ten Games of PAX East 2011 ready for you!

There were a lot of games being demo'd and previewed at the show, and all of them had very long lines of gamers looking to check them out. Fortunately we had appointments... Lines? We don't want no steenkin' Lines!

Picking just ten games was not easy -- the criteria that we used was a mixture of our own impressions and those of the many fans that we spoke with while visiting the lines to get the average gamer's view of the show. So here, for your reading pleasure, are the Top Ten Games of PAX East 2011 in reverse order, starting with Number 10!

Numero 10 -- Child of Eden

From Ubisoft comes this rhythm action game created by Tetsuya Mizuguchi, best known for his hit Rez, fpr the XBox 360 and PS3. The game has full motion-control support for Kinect -- in fact it was one of the games that was trotted out to showcase that system -- as well as support for Move, and is presented as an experiment on synesthesia, integrating sound, vision and touch in one seamless experience.

When we started playing we experienced this nagging feeling like we had seen this before... Not the game itself, but the game play experience, and then we realized that what we had here was Rez with the cyberspace elements replaced with a sort of New Age visual and audio impact. Not that we are complaining mind you, this game is fun!

The demo at PAX was rather easy to play -- in fact when we mentioned that to the host from Ubisoft who was at our elbow for the entire demo they assured us that this was the intended experience; the finished game will start out easy and then grow progressively harder. Keep an eye out for this one, it has the potential for being your go-to game when you just want to decompress from the other genres!

Nombre 09 -- Hunted: The Demon's Forge

From Bethesda Softworks -- the folks who brought us the Fallout Series -- comes a two player co-op Fantasy-RPG for the Xbox 360 and PS3 in which you play as E'lara the Huntress and Caddoc the warrior. The pair compliment each other's abilities -- E'lara is an archer who is your go-to-girl for ranged combat, while Caddoc is your melee man, who we are temtped to nickname BamBam! Both E'lara and Caddoc have magical abilities, we should point out, but their special abilities are their shining moment!

A team effort, Hunted: The Demon's Forge is an unforgettable cooperative action game, pitting you and your partner against waves of vicious enemies in a dark fantasy world in which you battle your way through menacing dungeons, overgrown ruins, and downtrodden towns. Game play is a mixture of a dynamic duo adventure and puzzles, with lots of variety in enemies from what we saw at the show.

The demo at the show appeared to feature the very beginning of the game, and while we did not get a big-picture view of the game, what we saw looks very promising -- especially if you love a good dungeon crawler! Oh yeah, and if that voice sounds familiar there is a reason for that. That is all we are saying Warrior Princess.

Nummer 08 -- The Lord of the Rings: War in the North

Based on the events taking place in the northern regions of Middle-earth in the background of the main story of J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, this installment in the LotR story is brought to us by Warner Brothers Interactive, which means it is a properly funded and well-developed game that includes all of the elements we have come to expect from the series.

A co-op Fantasy-RPG for XBox 360, PS3, and Windows PC, War in the North is a slugfest of Orc Slaying glory, and the combat alone easily explains why this is the first game in the series to score an M for Mature rating from the ESRB! Play is smooth, the demo showcased the unique talents of the three character types, and we were left awed and sweaty -- and that is saying something!

At its heart this is a classic RPG that stays mostly faithful to the canon and will be a pleasing experience for the hard core Middle-earth fan and gamers who have no idea what 'Frodo Lives!' means.

Maara 07 -- Brink

A lot of gamers feel like the market for post-apocalyptic action-adventure shooters has run its course, with so many available that there is no way to create a fresh take on the genre -- but those gamers have not yet played Brink!

Brought to us by Bethesda for the XBox 360, PS3, and Windows PC, Brink is a multi-player co-op shooter created for players who may not be all that good at shooters. In fact players can easily end up the highest scoring player on their team without firing a shot, which is one reason why we suspect that this 8 vs 8 two-team shooter with its fluid drop-in drop-out mechanics might just set the path for the future of the genre, as players get used to the convenience and game play that this one delivers in spades!

We brought you an interview with the Art Director for Brink earlier in our PAX East coverage -- check that out for more insight into why we think this one clearly belongs in the Top Ten of the show!

Numer 06 -- Orcs Must Die

This one was for us -- and most gamers -- the surprise of the show. Brought to us by Robot Entertainment for Windows and XBox Live Arcade and PSN, the title pretty much clues you in to what the game is all about.

Our hands-on at the show tells us that Orcs Must Die is going to be a hot game when it releases, and even if you don't ordinarily buy games from PSN or XBLA we think this one should be on your list and in your regular light gaming rotation this Summer!

Players must defend their fortress against a steady onslaught of orcs and other enemies, with combat consisting of a mixture of hand-to-hand and ranged attacks using swords, crossbows and magic. Players can also set various types of traps to stem the tide of orcs that pose a constant threat, including spikes, spinning-blades, and swinging metal balls, as well as objects in the environment.

The Orcs Must Die -- and that is where the fun begins!

Numerus 05 -- Mortal Kombat

If you have been gaming for more than a few years even if you never played one of the games from the series, you have heard of it -- and when we arrived at the show and learned that this was one of the demo's we have to admit we expected a lot. And a lot was delivered!

Another Warner Brothers title (and set for release in April) Mortal Kombat is coming to XBox 360 and PS3, this newest offering in the series is both a re-imagining and re-interpretation of the story, as it starts just after the events of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon , and then returns to the period in which the first three games -- Mortal Kombat , Mortal Kombat II , and Mortal Kombat 3 -- occur. Due to a plot twist (the character Raiden now having knowledge of the future), the events are slightly altered, and surprises await event the more hard core of fans!

The game is combat centric -- of course -- and also scored an M for Mature rating from the ESRB, so this one may not be the perfect fit for everyone, but from a butt-kicking Mortal Kombat perspective, this one does not disappoint!

Idadi 04 -- Battlefield 3

It is Battlefield 3 -- what more is there to say? Plenty!

When we arrived at our appointment for the demo it was one of the times when we were not given exclusive access, but were eased in with one of the groups of fans for a standard demo -- and it made no difference because the demo was so impressive that when we left the only question that we really wanted to ask was: When can we play it?!

The visuals are so much better, and the effects in the game, from the weapons to the explosive damage is so uber realistic that at times we had to wonder if they had somehow mixed in real video with the animation -- but no, it was all the engine!

Any fan of the series is going to know what to expect -- small unit combat in truly hostile environments that follows a basic story line that includes goals that you can achieve in your own way. That is a generic description that completely fails to illustrate how impressively awesome this title is. You really do have to see it to believe it, so when you have the time, head over to YouTube and check out some of the videos that EA has put online. Trust us, you are in for a surprise!

Rhif 03 -- L.A. Noire

The buzz at the show was all about L.A. Noire, and not all of it was good... We overheard gamers complain that the game is a full-length featured shooter slash drama with RPG elements that was favorably compared to other games like GTA IV with respect to the game world, but that was thought simply too short for a full-length game as it weighs in at only an average of 25 hours. The thing is, that short play time is a bit misleading.

The reality? This is one of the best crime-solving big-world adventure games to come off of the Rock Star production line in a very long time. If the player follows only the story line, then yes, it can be finished in around 25 hours, but completing the optional goals and collections, and with the upcoming DLC added in we see the play time potential for this one ballooning quickly!

The demo reveals a haunting and addictive game world that instantly triggers feelings of nostalgia -- which is really strange since (1) none of us were alive for that era, and (2) none of us ever lived in LA. And yet there it is -- a game that not only draws you in but maintains an immersive element throughout the adventure that it delivers in spades. Yeah, I know who done it, but I ain't saying!

Szama 02 -- The Darkness II

Stunning. Bloody. Incredible. Deep. And that is from just a brief demo that barely lasted an hour! The Darkness II is clearly the worthy successor to the original Darkness, as we finally get to see what happened after the first game ended. But before we talk about any other aspect, we have to underscore and emphasize that this may well be the most violent game you ever play. It is that bloody -- that gory.

And despite the blood and gore none of it appears to be gratuitous, rather it comes as a natural part of the story that is being told. That is difficult to rationalize from the outside looking in, but once you start to play the game you get it. The violence is combined with black humor -- a darkling peeing on the corpse of the enemy it just killed is a good example -- and more than a few unexpected Easter Eggs cropping up make for fun on a whole different level....

The Darkness II may not be everyone's cup of tea, but the gamers we talked to at the booth exit were all excited and antsy to get their hands on this Xbox 360 / PS3 title from 2K Games.

Number 01 -- Duke Nukem Forever

Two years ago all you had to do to get a group of gamers to start rolling around on the floor and laughing until they cried was to say "Yeah, my review copy of Duke Nukem Forever is supposed to be here any day!"

The reason? Perhaps it is the 12 years of development time? The fact that Wired Magazine gave the game its Lifetime Achievement Award for Vaporware? Or that it has appeared on the Top Ten Vaporware and Games that Never Were every year for the past decade? Maybe it is just because the game has been a running joke for so long that it has become part of the cultural fabric of the gaming community?

None of that matters now, because 2K has delivered a completed game that not only lives up to the very high standards of the previous games in the series, it does it while laughing at itself! Granted, the co-op play that we were expecting to see is absent from the game, the story mode is simply perfection, and the presence of The Duke so accurately rendered and delivered that it was almost as if it was supposed to take over a decade in the making. That is all we are saying.

Well, not all -- based upon the demo, we are convinced that the game actually will be released. No joke.

There were other games that, while they did not make the Top Ten list, nonetheless are going to be very awesome, and are worthy of mention here... Portal 2 to be sure, and Guild Wars 2, F.E.A.R. 3, and the PC version of Fable III (we are already hooked on the 360 version) are certainly worthy -- and would have been in the list if there were more than ten numbers in a Top Ten List.

We often say that this year is going to be a great year for gamers -- but the thing is, This Year Is Going To Be A Great Year For Gamers! Yeah!