PAX Australia Day 3, this is just the BeginningPAX PAX Australia Penny Arcade
A Small Foreword
Before I begin, I would just like to give a big thanks to Axe for summarising and putting together all of my Day One and Day Two experiences while I was still busy and moving around at PAX all weekend. I am sure he had to read through the equivalent of pages upon pages of my notes and photos each night before getting them up as quickly as he did, and I am really grateful for that and the GG team's support.
And now, here is my personal recount of Day Three at PAX Australia.
Saints Row IV - The Australian Edition
Saints Row IV was a massive hit at PAX Australia. The exhibit was situated in a small, black, closed off compartment near the middle of the Expo Hall, where the queues around the room were almost always completely packed with people eagerly awaiting their turn and R18+ wristbands at the ready. I was fortunate enough to get in line early on Sunday morning and was in for a wacky treat.
The Saints Row IV demo had me using a character with epic superpowers to dash, glide, jump on walls and sprint at amazing speeds, and the controls and essence of the game felt very similar to Saints Row: The Third from the five or so minutes we able to try. I did not notice much about the controversial changes to the weaponry since it was a really short demo, but as a whole it seems like Saints Row IV Australia Edition will still be packed with enough of the over-the-top craziness many of us have come to expect from the series for the changes not to matter too much.
Oculus Rift VR
The new and wondrous Oculus Rift held a particularly strong presence at the Expo with Alienware demonstrating the virtual reality technical prowess on their wares, VR Insanity holding some Team Fortress 2 demo stations to trial and even one of the ANZ Indie developers had the awesome tech at their booth, which made for huge crowds and queues at all of these exhibits. However, one of the more hidden demonstrations was from the Oculus VR team themselves who, up until Sunday, only held private interviews with the media to try out the fruits of their research and development. Unfortunately, I was unable to secure a one-on-one interview with the team, but I did get a chance to join in on the public viewing on Sunday and it was definitely an amazing feat to behold.
The Oculus VR team showcased their latest 1080p HD prototype with a tech demo and noted that they have made some small progress since their formal presentation back at E3. Upon putting on the Rift, I was able to look up and watch the snow fall slowly from the sky, turn around to see the cold mountains sitting far away from me in the distance and then watch a ball of light bounce off different surfaces around me as the demonstrator showed us how the tech could display completely 3D visuals with virtual depth and distance at 360 degrees all around us. It was certainly a beautiful and immersive experience and the demonstrator said that many games are currently being developed for the Oculus Rift and that we could see it released soon.
More on Splinter Cell: Blacklist
Surprisingly, Splinter Cell: Blacklist simply looked better and better the more I heard about it. I had never intended to buy the game before, but watching the Ubisoft gameplay demonstration was one of the highlights for me at PAX.
Even more ANZ Indies
Although it was great to see plenty of attention and crowding around the big game developers such as Ubisoft, Wargaming (World of Tanks) and Riot Games (League of Legends), it was even more pleasantly surprising to see a lot of the demo action taking place on the ANZ Indie Pavilion as well.
Almost all of the small and sometimes colourful exhibits were lined with people chatting to the developers or trying out the new games every time I walked by. I wished I had a bit more time try to them all too.
Luckily I was able to try just one more game from the award-winning Australian Indie Showcase before leaving the show floor, and Anti-Chamber (developed single-handedly by Alexander Bruce) is the one that still has me dazed and wanting more.
The Future of PAX Australia
The passionate gaming atmosphere and culture created by the developers, speakers, organisers and the gamers who attended PAX Australia had sadly come to an end. PAX has been a huge event for the international gaming industry for the past decade, bringing together gamers big and small, console and non-console and even non-electronic (tabletop) gaming fans to a show that exclusively celebrates games and the whole gaming culture. This is the first time that PAX has been expanded outside of North America and the best news is that the Penny Arcade founders (Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins) have confirmed PAX Australia will become a permanent annual event and that it is here to stay right in the city of Melbourne.
PAX Australia has definitely been an amazing experience for me personally, especially when watching and listening to the passionate developer and speaker presentations outside of the show floor or simply just standing amongst the waves of other passionate gamers walking around or waiting hours in line to get their hands on a new game demo. Going forward, PAX Australia will definitely expand and help our local gaming industry grow and the obvious popularity of the ANZ Indie Pavilions already highlight this success. So for those who missed out this time round, I highly recommend you coming along these events in future for a great experience and to further embrace the world of gaming :)