What an awesome experience. I was really taken by some of the well designed displays. I'll be adding a photo section shortly, I'm waiting to gather Greg, Al, and my pics to pick from the best. The Splinter Cell area took my attention first. I've really been waiting for that game. It conjures up memories from my days at Saint Vincent College playing "Pandora Tomorrow" and "Chaos Theory" over the school network in the evenings. They confirmed Spy vs. Merc mode which is exciting in itself. The area where this game was being previewed though was made up as a recreation military operations area. Very cool stuff. The life size Sam Fisher on the outside of it didn't hurt at all either.
I will tell you that I was also very excited by the demo of "Watchdogs." This almost certainly is being geared for next gen gaming systems. The detail and functionality that's being proposed is pretty overwhelming. I have a hard time with my current work schedule keeping up with a lot of the games I get involved with, but this is certainly one that I'll be making room in my schedule for. It seems to have a pretty clear "moral compass system" (I don't know what else to call it) wherein your decision making affects how others react to you. As a mental health professional I think this is very useful, as a gamer I think this is an added level of fun and challenge. Regardless, I really like the addition.
Assassin's Creed Black Flag was a treat. Extremely long line to get in. I've enjoyed all of this franchise's installments, and this looks to be no different. I really like what seems to be a free roaming ship system. My interpretation was something that reminded me of Sid Meier's "Pirates" with regard to your ability to make decisions on where to sail, disembark, and generally make "pirate-y" choices. I've already pre-ordered all of these titles, but the demos made me glad I did so.
Had a great experience at the Microsoft area. I got to play an early demo of the Castle Map Pack for Halo, which I believe was just released (I've been off the Xbox for a few days). It was a lot fun. But that's what I expect from Halo. I've been a long time fanboy of this title. The kicker to this experience was being given exclusive posters. Yes, that's right more than one. One of the posters featured the Castle Map Pack image, and the other was a representation of the 3 games Microsoft was showcasing (Halo, Gears: Judgement, and Dance Central 3). Additional bonus was when Greg and I were asked if we would want these signed. My collector sense tingled and I immediately asked who might sign these. Awesome representatives of 343 Industries came up and signed both of our sets of posters. A highlight of my experience at PAX, right there.
I wanted to check out the Bethesda area to see what Elder Scrolls online looked like. It looked fantastic from the outside, but they were closing up shop (huge line, and it was cut off for the evening by the time we got there) and so we couldn't make our way in. Square Enix had a cool area, I enjoyed walking through, I've already picked up Tomb Raider and like what I've played. All the areas for Dead Island were taken up and we were on our way elsewhere. Still a really nice showing. Thief looks pretty incredible, as an aside. Many cool indie games. I wish I had more time to visit that space. Lastly, though, but certainly not least. We got to stop by the Hawken area. This was a really nice and free to play mech game. I love mechs from way back, and this is a game I've heard a great deal about, but haven't seen much in the way of in game images. Getting to watch Greg play through an area was a treat. It's pretty well designed from my perspective.
The convention swag was pretty fantastic. Moga was giving out free cell phone controllers for android smart phones. I've used that pretty extensively. Got an inflatable sword for Assassin's Creed. One of my favorites was the foam goggles from the Splinter Cell area. Though the walnut from PopCap's Plants Vs. Zombie's was a cool little plush as well.
Honestly, sorry I didn't get to see more, just have to do more planning for next year so I can get to the expo hall earlier.
It was cool to meet the folks from GameChurch and Games for Change. I enjoyed talking to both of those representatives and plan very much to keep connected to those organizations. I got inspired to promote a "Child's Play" and/or "Extra Life" event to help out in that area. One of my biggest highlights though was meeting Gabe and Tycho (or by their real names, Mike and Jerry). What fantastic guys. I had to stand in a long line, but they were such gracious people. They showed a lot of interest in my study. It was a great highlight to an already successful event. Allright, enough of my ramblings, thanks for reading. I'll add some more soon.