Garnet Lantern

A unique video game experience

PAX East Day 2

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AM or PM?

Thanks to an AM PM mix up when setting the alarm, my girlfriend and I woke up 30 minutes later than was planned. We quickly scrambled to get ready, well I scrambled my girlfriend was in no rush to return to the cold. Even with the alarm mishap we managed to make it to the convention center only 30 minutes later than I had planned.

Unfortunately Saturday at PAX East is a zoo. Which meant that the 30 extra minutes ended up costing us dearly in line location. By the time we made it the “Queue Room” there was already three lines of people waiting.

The plan was to bolt straight for Overwatch, Blizzard’s new FPS title and one of the busiest, if not the busiest booths at PAX East. Although thanks to the 30 min mix up the line was capped before we even managed to make it to the booth. Meaning they weren’t even going to let us enter the line.

Dejected we headed over to developer Greybox’s booth to grab ourselves a light up lanyard and play their recently released real time strategy (RTS) game Grey Goo.

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Grey Goo: What’s happening?

Grey Box’s big push at this year’s PAX East was their new spacecraft fighting game Dreadnought. Which looked gorgeous and fun and if you are PC gamer I would advice you to sign up for the beta here, but my girlfriend and I accidentally got into the wrong line and found ourselves playing Grey Box’s recently released RTS Grey Goo instead.

I didn’t receive much guidance, but thankfully I understand the concept of an RTS and was able to get a minor grasp quickly.

The game played very much like Starcraft and even like Stracraft had three factions to choose from: the Humans, Betas and the Goo. Of course everyone except for one person in our 4 person free for all death match chose the Betas.

From the quick demo I got the feeling the game wanted to focus more on base building and fighting rather than managing resources. After building a refinery the AI took care of the rest and started gaining resources for me, there was not choice of how many units I wanted to mine. Actually the AI built the unit needed to mine automatically.

I was lost on what to build in order to get units or really what specific units did and unfortunately the game didn’t do a great job of guiding me. Of course this was only a short demo. I am sure the real game has a walkthrough, but I felt as though I was sort of thrown to the wolves.

As a whole the game was a well-polished RTS that felt like it was an RTS that was plucked right out of the 90s. If you are a fan of RTS and looking for a new game to give a try, I would recommend doing some research and checking out Grey Goo.

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Time to play another already released game: Monster Hunter 4

Capcom decided to showed up at PAX East this year and show off their recently released 3DS game Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. The Monster Hunter franchise has been on my radar since I was in High School, but I have never pulled the trigger on a purchase. The series is extremely popular in Japan and looks like the type of game that I would seriously enjoy paying.

So when my girlfriend and I walked past the Capcom booth and saw an open 3DS sitting there I quickly swooped in to give this 3DS beast a shot.

The demo was nothing more than a quick single quest with a character that was already geared out. Although this was more than enough to get the feeling of how Monster Hunter works.

After choosing a long sword as my weapon of choice and deciding to play it safe by choosing the beginner quest (what can I say I am a chicken) I was sent through a quick tutorial and thrust into my first Monster Hunter hunt.

I quickly found my prey and began to hack away at the beast. Thanks to the guidance of one of the guys working the booth I was taught some tricks in order to make my hunt easier and I quickly took the beast down, completing my quest and the demo.

It’s easy to see why so many people are obsessed with this game and how it could be very easy to lose hours of your life playing. The thrill of finding monsters, killing them and collecting loot in order to upgrade and craft gear is a combination that is rewarding and enjoyable. Add in the ability to play 4 player online with a handheld device, it’s no wonder Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate seems to be taking the 3DS world by storm.

After playing the demo the game jumped to the top of my want list, and will be my next purchase for when I am making a long trip or stumble upon some cash.

PAX East Treasure Hunt:

As I have said before, Saturday at PAX East is a zoo. Not only were all the lines wait time roughly around 2 hours, it was almost impossible to find a line that wasn’t capped.

Annoyed with not being able to find a line to stand in and bored of continuously walking the Expo Hall floor, the girlfriend and I decided it was the perfect time to begin our quest for the elusive PAX XP.

PAX XP is a simple treasure hunt around the Boston Convention Center that sends you hunting for QR codes to complete a picture in order to collect a prize. There are 16 codes in all that you must find in order to achieve the ultimate prize.

My girlfriend and I managed to cheat our way through the hunt, thanks to continuously refreshing the Reddit post and after about an hour of refreshing and walking around the convention center we had completed the hunt. Proud of ourselves for succeeding in the hunt, we headed off to collect our reward.

After boastfully displaying the completed picture to the information desk, the lady unimpressed by our feat quickly reached down and pulled out a two by two Rubik’s cube and handed it to us. Yay?

It’s hard to complain about a free gift, but man what a let down. Thankfully the hunt was enjoyable and provided a nice break from standing in line, but if you went to PAX East and were wondering if you missed out on a cool prize by not completing your PAX XP… you didn’t.

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We Actually Did It!: Overwatch

The busiest booths at PAX East this year were owned by Oculus and Blizzard. Everyone and their mom wanted to get their hands on the Oculus Rift and play Blizzards new FPS Overwatch.

After failing to gain access first thing in the morning my girlfriend and I continuously checked the line to be met with disappointment. Every time we would slyly walk by the line seemed to be capped.

After collecting the last piece of the PAX XP, my girlfriend turned and said to me “let’s go check your game” (my game being Overwatch), having no hope that this walk by would be any different then the other 20 times I begrudgingly agreed.

As we approached I noticed that by some grace of luck the line wasn’t capped and they were in fact allowing people to queue up. My lovely and brave partner ran up and shoved two fingers into the guy’s face “I have two!” The Enforcer waved his hand towards the back of the line and just like that we were in line for Overwatch.

I must admit when Blizzard announced Overwatch I didn’t overly fall in love with it. A first person shooter that took some MOBA characteristics along with a Team Fortress feel didn’t scream AMAZING to me, but this is Blizzard and over the last decade or so this company never seems to do any wrong.

After about an hour wait in line it was my turn to play the first new I.P. announced by Blizzard in over a decade and surprise, surprise I really enjoyed it.

The biggest thing that will set Overwatch apart from Team Fortress, which seems to be it’s main competitor, is the cast of characters. In true Blizzard style they have created a group of characters that people will fall in love with and grow attached to. In fact people are already doing that, before even playing the game.

Every character is unique and brings something different to the battlefield. Of course just like any player vs player game there will need to be tweaks and nerfs in order to achieve that balance that everyone wants, but for the most part every player looked useable and intriguing.

As I prefer to play more of a support role I chose the medic Mercy. Mercy is able to heal other players, provide a damage boost and with her chargeable ability revive fallen players.

It’s a character I could get used to playing. In the two matches I was allowed to play I managed to kill 0 players, but still found myself one of the highest ranked players in terms of score on each team because of the heals and support I was providing.

With no surprise to anyone the game is gorgeous and runs smoothly. The maps are large enough to provide room for hiding, but small enough that you won’t spend the entire match trying to find someone. It’s accessible to anyone, but has so much depth that people will be uncovering play styles and perfecting characters for years to come.

It’s an easy prediction to say Blizzard has another successful title on their hands. Thanks to the fan base they have built up in the gaming community and the amount of polish and the unique cast of characters Blizzard is about to have another smash hit under their belt.

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Time to take a break from the Triple A:

After succeeding in playing Overwatch I decided it was time to take a break from the triple A titles and head over the enormous indie section of PAX East.

The one game that grasped my attention the most was a little game called Castle Story. With cute little yellow creatures, castles and a well-done trailer playing over top of their booth, I had to know about this game.

Luckily as soon as I walked over a computer opened up and I quickly stepped in to give the game a try. The game combines an RTS element with a builder game. Think Minecraft but with objectives and instead of one character you control a whole army. The goal is to protect your crystal by building a castle around it and surviving waves of attacks.

You build by collecting resources from a mine and use the blocks to make walls, floors, stairs and doorways. As you progress and collect resources you’re able to produce more units that can either be fighters or workers that can be assigned to certain jobs, such as building, mining or cleaning up your castle. It’s a really interesting premise that if done correctly can be a lot of fun.

The game is in a early stage and I encountered some annoying bugs that at times could be frustrating, but looking at the big picture I found myself severely intrigued.

I have spent hours playing Minecraft and could see myself spending a good deal of time building out my castle and finding ways to make it more and more impenetrable in order to continue to survive waves of monsters.

There doesn’t seem to be any drive or progression other than building a bigger castle and getting more units. Which could make gamers lose interest after only a few hours, but I will be continuing to keep an eye on the progression of Castle Story over the year. The game looked like a great base for a terrific game.

After a slow start to Saturday, the day ended up being the busiest of the three days at PAX East. I walked away from Saturday having played more games than I had imagined playing all weekend, and just when I was about to give up all hope of playing Overwatch my girlfriend pulled off some magic and got us in line.

Although Sunday was one of the shorter days, due to a lack of motivation there was still plenty that was done so be sure to check out the finale of my PAX adventure. That included a very interesting Gearbox panel and a little bit more gaming… of course.

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