Saturday, March 30, 2013

PAX East 2013 Report Part 1 - Watch_Dogs, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Saints Row IV, and Last of Us

PAX has become a sort of mecca for gamers—as much a pilgrimage as it is a spectacle. When the first one was announced, gamers went ballistic. What? You mean I can go to a gaming convention where big name titles will be showed off? A convention that devs take seriously? Count me in! Since its inception, PAX has now spawned four separate conventions. Last week, I packed my bags and went to snowy Boston to brave the 50,000 some-odd people to go to my first PAX East. Was it all I had hoped for or should I have stayed at home and skipped all the Dunkin Donuts?

The devs came out in droves, from the megahuge (technical term) Bethesda to the two-man Zeboyd team, and they did not disappoint. Here’s the rundown of the biggest/best games at PAX East 2013.


The trailer we saw at the PS4 reveal was pretty much identical to the video Ubisoft showed off on the expo hall floor. Alex stealing someone’s bank account info, stopping a potential murder, catching the offender, and running away from the police. The video shown off at PAX East, however, was from the perspective of the ctOS, the city-wide operating system controlling all public functions, with narration by presumably some sort of law enforcement figure. The change in viewpoint also yielded some new information about what exactly Alex is hacking to get all this done. It’s a combination of hacking the ctOS and a beta police program to identify potential victims before crimes happen. So now we know Alex has access to at least what the police have access too, making him even more dangerous a character.

The trailer also revealed a sorta-new character. If you hadn’t already picked up on it, someone besides law enforcement is watching Alex through ctOS. The developers have also mentioned you could watch the game from any device, so maybe this is how they wrote in a third, all-seeing eye to monitor Alex, but the implications of someone other than Alex having access to as much as he does is interesting as well. We may not have learned much, but Watch_Dogs remains near the top of my watch list.

Release Date: Q4 2013
Platforms: PC, Wii U, PS4, PS3, Xbox 360

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Admittedly, I haven’t been very excited about Assassin’s Creed IV since it was announced. If you would have asked me after Revelations if having a lead character who was a pirate assassin who commands his own ship, I would have screamed my vocal chords to shreds in excitement. However, it seems like they’re moving further and further away from stealth, a component I feel used to be at the heart of the AC franchise. ACIII saw the biggest departure from this, after making straight-up murdering people so much easier, de-emphasizing sneaking in missions and adding ship fights. You can’t really sneak around in a ship. Or maybe you can and I was just doing it wrong.

Assassin’s Creed IV seems like an even larger departure, showing our new protagonist Edward Kenway as a ruthless cutthroat. He inspires loyalty in his men, a crew you must manage within the game. You get into ship battles, sail to different islands to explore them, and of course, murder some Templars along the way. Though one of the developers in the video said stealth would be more emphasized, I don’t see how that could be true when so much of the game is non-stealth. I suppose we’ll see later this year, but at the moment, the only thing I’m excited about is potential bug fixes to the ACIII engine.

Release Date: October 29, 2013
Platforms: PC, Wii U, PS4, PS3, Xbox 360

Saints Row IV
It’s crazy, it’s over the top, and it’s coming back at you. I was so taken aback by this game I wrote about it the night after seeing the video. You can read what I thought here. Spoilers: it seems like insanity drowned in madness.

Release Date: August 20, 2013
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Last of Us
The line was long, I couldn’t get in. My bad. I wanted to play it as much as you wanted to read about it, probably more. Here’s some impressions from someone who did get in.

Release Date: June 14, 2013
Platform: PS3

Read Part 2!
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