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Quick Impressions From PAX East



While enjoying the show floor at PAX East (i.e. filling up my inn in Dragon Quest IX), I was able to briefly try a number of upcoming and current games. Though I wasn't able to play them long enough to warrant a full preview, I'll provide some quick impressions of each game. If you have any questions about these games, feel free to write in to Q&A.

Dungeon Siege 3

Dungeon Siege 3 is the latest game in the venerable dungeon crawling series, as well as the latest game developed by Obsidian. Given the history of technical issues the developer's games have had, I was very interested to see how well a game running on their own technology would fair. I was impressed right of the bat, as the game was running on a 3D display on the demo PC, and looked quite fantastic. The game ran quite smoothly and I did not notice any technical glitches or issues of any kind. Given the game's top-down perspective, playing it in 3D was an interesting experience. The only odd thing is the demo was running using a 360 controller, as apparently the PC controls are not finalized yet. The game was easy to play, as it uses standard controls for this kind of Action RPG (think games like Ultimate Alliance). I picked the mage character, which had two forms, regular and some kind of flame form (think a female human torch). The action was fun, and the little bit of dialogue encountered suggested there could be a Mass Effect style of depth to the conversations, though it was impossible to tell this from the short demo. So, though it doesn't appear like it will add much to the Action RPG genre, the game felt very polished, and given Obsidian's previous history of great world building in their games, this is certainly one to keep an eye on.

Gamebook Adventures from Tin Man Games
Remember those good old choose-your-own-adventure books? I sure do, and so does Tin Man Games. Taking cues from classic book series like Fighting Fantasy, these iOS games expertly recreate these choose-your-own-adventure series, complete with the simple but fun character creation and combat. There's even an option to cheat (which anyone playing those books back in the day probably did), though it's only available after getting to at least one ending. There were also a number of extra features to help complement the experience as well, including bookmarks to go back to if you didn't like how some choices turned out, separate iPhone and iPad versions specifically designed for that device, and in-game encyclopedias chronicling the world for that series, updated whenever a new game comes out. I was quite impressed by the Gamebooks they demoed for me. I was also told that in addition to the fantasy series they have going now, they have more in the works, including sci-fi and vampire series (yes, we exchanged a Twilight joke after mention of that last one). For fans of classic choose-your-own-adventure books, this is a company to check out.

El Shaddai
By far my game of the show, El Shaddai is one of the most original games I've ever seen. With an art style from the person responsible for Okami, the game is just amazing to see in action. A re-imagining of the Book of Enoch, one of the dead see scrolls, this action title (with some light RPG leveling elements) is thankfully as fun to play as it is to look at. Using only 4 buttons, the battles in the game rely a lot on skill and timing, and the demo was quite difficult (there will be an easy mode in the full game for those who aren't that great at action games). There are also side-scrolling platforming type areas, which were a lot of fun and fit into the rest of the experience quite well. To help you enjoy the art style, the game has no user interface, instead showing damage with pieces of the main character's armor breaking off. As an interesting note, I was told that you can enable a user interface after you complete the game, which then will show combo counts and things of that nature. The demo ends with a trailer for later portions of the game, with each area of the game having a completely different art style. Though not really an RPG, I still highly recommend that people keep an eye on this game.

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
The game that needs no introduction. I'm sure most of you don't really need me to talk to much about this game, as most of us have already played it to death. The demo of Ocarina of Time 3D allowed me to explore the first dungeon in the game. It looked really good in 3D, thanks to what appeared to be improved textures from the original N64 game. The controls worked quite well with the analog slider, and you could even aim the sling-shot using the motion controls of the system (don't worry, this control is optional). The one control issue I did see, is that some of the menus appeared to be usable only by the stylus, I didn't get the chance to ask a Nintendo representative about this however. I played the game a bit with the 3D slider off as well, and it still looked like a nice improvement over the original game. With the inclusion of Master Quest along with the original game, this appears to be the definitive version of this classic Zelda title.

Be sure to check out the rest of our PAX East coverage.

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