Monday, March 14, 2011

PAX East 2011 Reaction(s) & Japan

It was a bitter sweet weekend here in Boston. As I left my home early on Friday morning to drive to the Boston Convention Center for the 2nd annual PAX East Gaming Convention, news of a major earthquake was sweeping over my radio, twitter feed and facebook. It makes it difficult to fully enjoy an entertainment event knowing that on the other side of the world people are suffering from one of the biggest natural disasters to ever strike. Think about this; what if you were one of the lucky ones to survive the 9.0 (upgraded) Earthquake, only to get hit moments later by a 30 foot tsunami, only to find out hours later that six nuclear reactors are on the brink of failing… The nuclear events are by far the most worrisome out of three nightmarish tragedies. No one wants to see another Chernobyl like event. Right now there seems to be conflicting news coming out of Japan where as some news agencies are reporting fears of a meltdown while others are saying the problems are contained. I wish Japan the best in these hard times.
PAX East however was a great success – 60,000 gamers were expected to show up at the Boston Convention Center, which was held for the first time in the new venue, after complaints last year of long lines causing little space for people to walk through the Hynes Convention Center in 2010. The bigger venue advantages were felt right away with four exhibit hall lines setup at 9am on Friday morning. The four lines were started at all four corners of the main exhibit hall giving people plenty of space to stand in line. In fact, if the PAX crew wanted to, they could have probably sold double the passes and still have plenty of room for the event. One thing they didn’t learn from last year was ordering more PAX East shirts as they were sold out by 2pm on the first day. Luckily I was able to grab one before then and did not have to resort to buying on for $50 off some random gamer like I did last year. (They cost $20 each)
Most avid gamers like to plan their day out ahead of time and I was no different. The first booth I wanted to hit up was Valve’s Portal 2 and boy did they not disappoint. I was close to the front of the line so I was able to get in on the 2nd presentation of the day for Portal 2. The presentation included brand new footage of pre-recorded gameplay in the opening of the game. We were asked not to take any video, but it appears one disobedient gamer decided to take it upon himself to capture the whole presentation. It is now on youtube and I’ve added it below.
It appears you do not play as the protagonist Chell from the first game but another character. Your character is being kept isolate in what looks like a standard hotel room. Your character, (shown in First Person View) is asked to do a series of tasks which is designed to familiarize the player with the controls of the game. The screen fades to black and an unknown considerable amount of time goes by showing the same room in shambles, possibly years later. It is here when you start to feel the charm of Portal 2, when you are introduced to your robotic partner Cave Johnson, which has a British accent, and claims he is trying to rescue you. The room then begins to break apart as you finally realize the room is one of thousands, stacked in some giant futuristic warehouse used for experimenting on humans. The room looks to be on rails as you move to different sections of the warehouse as the walls, ceiling and floor being to crumble away, revealing the dark truth your character has been subject to over the long stretch of time.

Of course, after the Portal 2 presentation, we were all given pretty sweet Aperture Science shirts I'll continue to add more impressions of PAX East over the week.