Category Archives: Featured

So long and thanks for all the nerdiness

The Pax East Logo

Dear Jerry and Mike,

And here we are: the gamer blog; the obligatory PAX post. This time it’s different though, because the one thing I realize we’ve never done is to thank you for PAX.

So this time, that is what I’m doing.

Jeff and I have never been to Boston before. So the thought was, what better time to see this glorious new city, but crammed into a convention center in front of a screen?

So in a stark modern building nestled amongst some old-world charm that we quickly hurried past, there she was: PAX East. And she was a beaut. Brimming with excitement and anticipation. The camaraderie of witty T-shirts, buttons and badges.

Day one was filled with the essentials. The PAX Q & A of course. There is nothing quite like a show that makes you laugh, cry and a feel little insulted at the same time. The ever-sharp wit of Jerry and Mike, the endless stream of gifts that were laid at their feet are always the best to see/hear. Amongst the fun though, there’s got to be something ever humbling, listening to the stories of those lives touched by this Childs Play and this very event.

But enough of beautiful and on to the tragically magical: the games. Oh the glorious onslaught of expo hall games, free play games, games that you brought yourself, because why the hell not?

I didn’t check out too many of the bigger titles this year. Though I did stop to ponder in front of the Far Cry 3 tattoo parlor, imagining the rampant diseases of a tattoo piercing my skin in this open air, probably germ filled expo hall.

Oh wait, we’re safe. There’s a health inspector here, and looking ever excited to be here sir!

Of all the games I saw I was most drawn to Quantum Conundrum, a plucky game about being able to switch dimensions in a room to solve puzzles. I will most certainly be getting it. Well, if I can get over the humiliation of being told that I could win a prize if I didn’t die during the whole trial, then feel the immediate sweat to my palms and shortness of breath that can only come with such high-stakes conditions. Let’s just say I promptly died more times that that bewildered expo-prize wielder would probably see all day.

The rest of the show passed like a dream; the happy, plump dream of a fat kid frolicking a field of hot dogs.

Of course enjoying one type of nerddom wasn’t enough for a trip of this caliber. Between the table-top games we were discovering, swag we were grabbing and maybe a happy hour with some Star Wars Nerds (Lucas Arts TM I’m pretty sure), I couldn’t quite quiet the journalism nerd in me.  So you have it. A picture from the guys from the newly founded polygon.com

We may have asked them to take a picture of only Jeff and I first. Please don't hold that against us.

and t tweet I’ve been drafting and redrafting thanking @BenKuchera for a great panel on long-form game journalism.

“Thanks @BenKuchera for a great panel”

…No that’s lame

“@BenKuchera’s panel on long form journalism was my favorite part of #PAX. Second to the Q&A, which I think he’s obligated to be ok with”

…maybe he’ll find that funny…

So … anyway thanks Jerry and Mike for another great year. See you next…

Oh right. I forgot, we maybe seeing you later this year as we are going to PAX Prime too. Hope that’s not creepy.

Sincerely,

Just some Northwest Gamers

PAX Prime 2010 – The Welcome Home Edition

PAX Prime 2010 WsctcAnother year, another Penny Arcade Expo passed. The panels are over and the exhibitors are packed and gone, but the excitement and energy that is PAX are tough to fully process right away. Still lining Seattle’s famous pike street are PAX banners, featuring various statements of nerd humor, such as “why your IT guy is out sick”. But one banner in particular caught my eye, containing a message that why the 72-odd hours of PAX make up the absolute highlight of many gamers’ year (including mine).  “Welcome Home”.

In last year’s PAX, I was fleeting familiar with the sense of community one finds at such an event, but it wasn’t until this year’s convention that I was hit in the face with this fact. As I’ve noted previously, much of my time last year was occupied pursuing swag and spending hours in line for a few minutes playtime of the latest titles. While I certainly spent my fair share of time in the expo hall this year, my experience with PAX 2010 was profoundly different than the last, and one of ultimately more enjoyment. Continue reading

Pre-PAX Thoughts

Less than 17 days until the largest event in the world for gamers begins– right in my backyard. I’ve always felt very fortunate to have such an important event in the gaming community so close to home. When it comes to big events, Seattle feels a little cut off at times, so its events like PAX that make living in the Pacific Northwest just a little more worthwhile.

Seattle Convention Center PAXGiven its occurrence on such a pivotal weekend, Labor Day, last year was the first time I was able to attend PAX. I had an absolute blast, but I still felt like I missed quite a bit of what the convention had to ffer.  For one, I spent most of my time on the exhibition show floor. When I was younger, I used to dream of going to E3 (back when it was closed to the public), so the exhibit hall of PAX was my small way of making up for all those times I missed E3. While I got to play plenty of great upcoming games, I regret not branching out more – the panels, meetups, etc.

This year, I hope to fully make up for last year’s shortcomings . PAX isn’t just about exhibiting the latest and greatest games, its about gathering with 60,000 other gamers, playing a game or two, and making a few friends along the way.

Review: Splinter Cell Conviction

splinter cell conviction

I remember my first look at Splinter Cell: Conviction came in an issue of EGM, full of concept art of a Sam Fisher given a “rugged”, some might say “homeless” new look. The game featured gameplay elements to allow the player to hide in plain sight, using crowds and the environment to slow and escape from enemies. It was a radical change from the past five games, all of which focused on stealth gameplay and an arsenal of gadgets. While these changes might’ve upset some, Splinter Cell Conviction, unlike its precessors, was shaping up to be a game I was legitimately psyched about.

Continue reading

Review: Limbo

Limbo is a game that a lot of people have been talking about for a long time. About a year ago, I saw the above screenshot, and was instantly intrigued. And let me tell you, the full game is one of the most beautiful games I have played in years. Limbo is also a great many other things which I will get into further detail about momentarily. But I know the real question that’s burning in your minds…..Is this game worth 15 of your hard-earned dollars?

Continue reading

Red Dead Redemption Review: I Reckon Its Okay

Red Dead RedemptionGrand Theft Auto and I have a love-hate relationship. For nearly every one of their games, I can point out genre-defining features, and still find others that are nearly game breaking. Red Dead Redemption, while not bearing the GTA badge, is still so similar in formula to a Grand Theft Auto game that I’ll treat it as such in this review.  I’ll break my review down by the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of RDR–I know I know, couldn’t help myself. But lets be honest– this is probably the most apt situation to use such an expression, so let’s get started! Continue reading

MySpace Aspires to Become Top Gaming Hub, but Who’s Still Playing?

MySpace a Place for FarmvilleAccording to a recent letter from co-president Mike Jones, MySpace is taking aim on the social gaming scene, aiming to expand their MySpace Games platform with partnerships with major social gaming developers, including Playdom, Zynga, TheBroth and Meez. MySpace has been attempting to capitalize on the flak that Facebook has received for their befuddling new privacy settings, and their gaming platform has been a key part of their strategy to climb out of social media irrelevance. I can’t help but wonder if MySpace is even capable of pulling out of the nosedive they have seen in the past few years. I thought they had already crashed and burned months ago.

My day job may be in social media, but I skipped the MySpace boat entirely.  I also tend to avoid social network games like the plague. Perhaps I am just compelled more by an engaging gaming experience, one that is typically not had with the trivialities that games on social networks typically entail. Despite my personal preferences, its obvious that casual games on social networks is a huge business….someone must be playing all that FarmVille and Mafia Wars. But whatever your position is towards these social games, Its hard to believe that Facebook, with such an enormous userbase and established application platform, is likely to lose much momentum simply because MySpace made a few partnerships. Do you think MySpace has a chance to redeem itself with its gaming platform? Or will it fall flat like most of its recent initiatives?

Metro 2033: I Heard It Through the Grapevine

Sometimes a game can come out of nowhere and completely take you by surprise. These games tend to be the ones that you remember years in the future, because the experience they gave you was unprecedented and unexpected. Metro 2033 was heralded as such a game. Many reviewers cited its “incredible atmosphere” and its “solid single-player campaign.” Others, if you can believe it, dared to compare this game to Bioshock and Half-Life 2, arguably the two best first-person story-driven games ever. I hear you asking if Metro 2033 should be lifted to such great heights. I know I was yearning for a new, great first-person story. Does Metro 2033 deliver?

Continue reading

The LittleBigPlanet 2 Reveal: My Thoughts

Today, the sequel to one of the most creative, unique, and simply adorable games I’ve ever played was “formally” announced, alongside the trailer above.

So what makes this announcement momentous?

Little Big Planet 2 will feature full integration with all 2 million player created levels from LittleBigPlanet 2. This news is HUGE, especially from a developer who has gone on the record in the past to dismiss a sequel as “counterproductive” to building and improving upon the player run community. The added features: namely player created AI, are really just icing on the cake.

LittleBigPlanet wasn’t a perfect game. I had a few issues with several aspects of the game that I am excited to see resolved in the sequel. These include:

  • Multiplayer support without sharing the screen. This would allow for greater flexibility, especially in large levels, and help eliminate some of the frustration when one player getting stuck offscreen.
  • A better level/user search engine. Sometimes I’d play a great level, but forget to favorite it, and would never be able to find it again.
  • Better navigation and interface. sometimes the sheer number of items and tools available to the user were daunting, especially within the simplistic GUI that they were forced to fit in.
  • Better precision with the creation tools. The amount of time required to achieve the level of precision necessary in building mechanical devices or large set pieces was often overwhelming. The snap-to grids were helpful in the first game, but they didn’t always suit the need of the situation.

What new features/fixes would you like to see in LittleBigPlanet 2?

Join Us For The Northwest Gamer Night, Thursday April 8th!

Northwest Gamer Battlefield Bad Company 2 Game Night

In lieu of the metric ton of great singleplayer games so far in 2010, we wanted to host a friendly multiplayer game night for all our northwest and not so northwest gamers. Because lets face it: games are more fun when played together! We are hoping to make this a regular event, so show up and tell your friends!

April’s theme: destructible environments and YOU!

Join us from 6-9pm Pacific on Xbox live for Battlefield Bad Company 2, and with any luck we will capture a few flags, thwart a few bombings, and level a few buildings in the process.

RSVP on Facebook, or comment on this post. Send us your gamertag and we will friend/invite you. Or, just show up and message either Decksathron or AbsentAmpersand.

Hope to see you there!

Suggestions for future game nights? Leave a comment here, or bug us on twitter.