Sunday, August 31, 2008

PAX 2008: It Was the Best of Times...

We're recovering from two full days of PAX 2008, and now that we've safely secured our loot in a Secret Hidden Location away from the mad crowds, we'll take a moment to give you a quick, overall impressions of the Big Bash, with specifics to follow once we've had time to decompress. We need to chew on it, ruminate a bit, digest and then...regurgitate all that stuff back up. Frankly, we're just not ready to re-enter the real world yet.

So, without further ado, here's our take on the Best, and the Worst, PAX had to offer this year.
We'll start out with the highlights.


Best Exhibit in the Expo Hall: Hands down, Bethesda Softworks Fallout 3 booth wins this one. From the shiny happy family milling contentedly around the old camping trailer to the twisted, desiccated ruin it becomes and the Protectron robot guarding its charred remains, this booth was the one to beat. Swag available at the booth included a vault-dwellers guide complete with helpful tips from Vault Guy, pure retro genius.

Best Forum:
Again, and we don't mean to sound sycophantic and obsequious (thought a little smarminess is certainly in keeping), the guys from Bethesda rocked PAX with their highlight play-through of Fallout 3.

Though we weren't allowed to film it, here are some of the features worth mentioning from the Fallout 3 Play-Through:

  • Malcolm McDowell lends his voice to the character of the US President, while Cole Porter's music was licensed to create that authentic 40's ambiance.
  • Many many many character customization options, including lots o' hair styles, even facial hairstyles with eerily appropriate though out-of-the-ordinary names, courtesy of three-in-the-morning-crazy-exhaustion-genius (Emperor Chen muttonstache, anyone?).
  • Drugs make you smarter! Note: Fallout 3 is no longer banned in Australia.
  • VAX system lets you pause time, isolate body parts and demolish your enimies, though it takes a serious toll in action points.
  • Focus on deeper, richer, more three-dimensional NPC's makes you at least a little sorry when you inevitably screw them over.
  • Water, though thirst-quenching and healing in the short-term, will eventually cause radiation sickness, which is deadly (though meds are available to slow its progress).
  • Slick weapons now include pneumatic gloves to pulverize your opponent's face, or rail guns that rip through his heart and may even pin it to the wall behind him.
  • Vault Protectron robots, once activated, make helpful assistants. Sometimes.
  • Take on stealth mode and pick locks or pockets to take other character's loot. Or, for extra-special evilness, try leaving a live frag grenade behind.
In addition to the fun play-by-play, the Fallout 3 guys came through on a promise to present lots of swag for the PAX crowd.

Cards were distributed with various attributes: intelligence, stamina, endurance, etc., with corresponding swag for each attribute. Intelligence, for example, earned the recipient a nifty Vault Guy hand puppet. One (there can be only one) lucky attendee with the corresponding Luck attribute card was awarded, *in addition* to a t-shirt, hand puppet, signed poster and "viewmaster" style player loaded with Fallout 3 screenshots (all the other swag combined): 5 years of Xbox Live Gold membership, the Survivor's Edition of Fallout 3 (including the metal lunchbox, artbook, Vault Boy bobblehead and Pip Boy 3000 alarm clock), and 16,000 Xbox Marketplace points. Oh, yeah, and an Xbox Elite.


Left 4 Dead was SO crowded we never even got close to playing the game, but word at the convention was that it is rivalling Starcraft 2 and Fallout 3 as one of the top most-anticipated games by those that DID get a chance at it.

Raffles offered PAX attendees who didn't make it in to the keynote or the Fallout 3 play-through or other EXTREMELY popular venues (check out our WORST report for more on that) a chance to win uber-cool stuff like hard drives and gaming headphones (or, more likely, a Prince of Persia t-shirt).

Gunnar optical wear for gamers, designers and developers are going to be HUGE. Designed to cut down on ambient glare from your monitor, keep your eyes from drying out and reduce eye strain, they let even those who work on computers all day long come home to a night of gaming free of headaches and overload. These guys are going to make millions. You heard it here first.

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