The most recent Penny Arcade Expo event, affectionately referred to as PAX East, wrapped up on Easter Sunday. Instead of hunting for eggs and stuffing chocolates into their faces, many gamers instead spent the weekend on the convention floor hoping to get through insanely long lines and play upcoming games from their favorite developers and publishers.
We have game previews from the event including Assassin's Creed III and Spec-Ops: The Line. Read on to see what Derek "DSmooth" Nolan thought about these games. Also, don't miss Steven “frizzlefry2” Boulé’s PAX East 2012 Game Previews for info on Bloodforge, Borderlands 2, and Lollipop Chainsaw.
Assassin's Creed III
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, & Microsoft Windows
Release Date: October 30th
Despite it’s III (3) moniker, Assassin’s Creed III is the 5th game in the series, but takes a radical departure from the preceding titles. You now play as Connor, a Mohawk/British ancestor of Desmond, and the game is set in Colonial America. This gives an entirely new look to the series, as the Renaissance buildings of Rome have been replaced with woods, hills, mountains and fields. Ubisoft made clear that they wanted to maintain the parkour aspects that people loved about the series, but didn’t want to cheapen it with shoddy squared-off trees convenient for climbing, jumping and swinging, the latter specifically calling out the fact they didn’t want it to feel like Tarzan. Moving between trees in the Bunker Hill area seemed fluid and natural. Natural looking trees and rock faces were available for climbing, but looked nothing like cookie-cutter trees and mountains that you expect in video games. The landscape was also equipped with several areas of bushes, shrubs, brush and other plants where Connor is able to blend in to stalk his targets.
Another major change in the series is a more clear path selection. Instead of previous games in which you could just give up on stealth at any moment and go wild, you are given the choice at the beginning of missions as to whether you want to take the stealth path or a more direct approach. On these paths to your objective, the enemy count has been increased from 200 on-screen in previous games to 2500 individually acting characters at any given time. During the Bunker Hill mission we saw the epic scale of the battle was painted nicely by the huge number of characters present on screen. This plays well with the new weapons available, as Connor is equipped with not only a bow and tomahawk, but with guns and a rope dart weapon we saw in the demo. The combination of weapons allows for close quarters stealth kills, distance kills, and just about everything in between. We were also told that this was just a small subset of the weapons available to Connor.
Between the new environment, the enhanced gameplay, the new weapons and the scale of the game, Assassin’s Creed III looks amazing. I had given up on this series a few games back due to the repetitive and similar nature of the locales and gameplay, but I am planning on making a return to the series with Assassin’s Creed III.
Spec Ops: The Line
Developer: Yager Development
Publisher: 2K Games
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 & Microsoft Windows
Release Date: June 26th
After seeing this game for 2 consecutive E3’s, I was really excited to get some hands on time with it at PAX East 2012. I am not a huge fan of 3rd person shooters, but the squad-based aspect, plus the setting put Spec Ops: The Line on my radar.
The playable demo put me in the role of Delta Force Captain Martin Walker traveling through a post-apocalyptic Dubai overridden with outlaws and gangs. I was thrown off slightly as Nolan North was doing the voice of Walker, which gave me some Uncharted deja-vu...
The demo level took about 30 minutes or so to complete, and included everything from operating a chopper gunner to ground stealth combat to all out firefights. Weaponry included everything from machine guns to pistols to grenades to one of the best sniper rifles I’ve seen in a game in a long time. A unique aspect of the squad play is that you can mark targets for your teammates to take out, allowing for you either to recover your health, or to make a simultaneous strike against multiple targets. Due to the state of Dubai in the game, the landscape covered everything from open desert expanses with minimal cover to downed buildings with upside-down hallways and staircases. The game played really well and was quite intuitive. My only initial complaint was with the cover system, which was sometimes cumbersome to get into cover. It appeared to take the opposite approach of cover-spazzy games like Gears of War where you stick to stuff you don’t want to. Overall the game was a blast, and I look forward to seeing the finished product in June.