PAX East: We Played THE LAST OF US and You Didn't

We're back with another round-up of PAX East previews. Starting off, we played The Last of Us and you didn't. Sorry 'bout it.

The Last of Us

A rare hands-on opportunity with the highly anticipated new Naughty Dog title, Last of Us,  awaited those who braved the lines of PAX East 2013. The demo placed players in the role of Joel who, with new character Tess and their young charge, Ellie, as they make their way (appropriately enough) though the ruins of Boston. The first thing that strikes players is the level of detail in the world, with it’s water effects, and character animation. Even outside of cut-scenes characters have a good-uncanny look to them, especially when, for example, their faces contort with effort as they pull you/each other up the many ledges found in the ruins. In gameplay it quickly sets in how important resource management and stealth gameplay are to success. Crafting of new items like shivs, for stealth kills, or upgrading your melee item with a pair of scissors to make it more deadly, takes an item from your pool of sharpened edges either way. The same goes for the upgrade and the med kit, both of which need tape. Not only that, but crafting happens in real time, the action of the game world doesn’t pause while you go MacGyver. In gameplay Last of Us, should not be mistaken for anything but a strict survival horror experience. Bullets are rare, and death is quick and brutal if the newest enemy, the sightless Clickers get their hands on you. As you make your way though the ruined city and a mostly collapsed subway tunnel, one mistake or a frightened AI partner firing her weapon can bring them down on you, sending you back to a check point after quick and brutal death sequence.

Lost Planet 3

Two closely linked gameplay sections were available for demo at Pax East, in the first your are running and gunning third person style though an ice cave, dodging the grasping claws of alien bats. Get caught and you’ll have to hit their glowing weak points while hanging upside down with your AR or shotgun. Once your reach your base it was time for a classic Lost Planet boss battle with a giant enemy scorpion that comes complete with a glowing weak point on its tail. After a few minutes running around it in a large, snowy area, your Mech arrives. Once onboard, you are directed to use it’s grappling and drill arms in combination to block it’s claws, counter the tail attack, grab it with your left ‘hand’ then lift the creature up and drill at it’s weak point until the tail is torn off. Then it’s just a matter of beating it (and some stray bats) into the next life. The latest reinvention of the franchise, Lost Planet 3 at once feels original and conventional (in a good way)

Tengami

In the nest of sheer ambition and creativity that is the Indie Mega Booth at Pax East, there are a few standouts that draw their fair share of attention with a unique visual style. One of which is Tengami, an iOS title still in development that is a puzzle-platformer that challenges description. Set in the world of a classical-period Japanese pop-up book, your 2D hero makes his way though a 3D world that folds in and out of existence as the player turns pages that can open and close paths. The experience is basic yet challenging, enhanced with soft colors, breezy music and little touches like how the hero is completely flat and disappears briefly when he turns and how the floating leaves of the cherry blossom trees are little more than pink confetti.

Remember Me

Capcom’s new IP was a hot ticket this weekend, but this 3D platformer set in a richly detailed (the new Deus Ex has nothing on this game when it comes to visual noise) near future Paris was worth the wait. Players were taken though a custom build of the game’s first area, and a disoriented Nilin makes her way though the slums of Neo-Paris at the behest of a (radio) voice in her head. The agile Nilin spends a lot of the time leaping from ledge to ledge and shimming along pipes, with her cybernetic implants helpfully pointing out the next grab point and it’s distance away from her. The city is not without it’s more conventional threats, as the rampant use of memory manipulation (apparently as a kind of drug, as local junkies beg you for a happy memory for them to experience) has left some people in a feral state, which means its ok for you to beat them up. Combat in Remember Me is of the free-flow variety, basic for now but hinting that it might border on the style found in the recent Batman games. There is a pair of twists however, an onscreen guide that lets your know if you are actually pulling off the button combos you are intending to do and the revelation that successful combos can grant your health or energy for an ‘over drive’ attack mode. After the demo there is a teaser at the larger conspiracy story, vehicle sections, memory manipulations/investigations. Overall a promising combination of several recently popular gameplay styles in a fresh world with a interesting, original heroine.

Assassin‘s Creed 4: Black Flag

Secrecy and security was name of the game for the theater presentation of Assassin‘s Creed 4: Black Flag, Ubisoft staff eyeballed attendees individually for any kind of recording device more complicated than pen and paper. After we all took a (figurative) blood oath, a video ran hosted by several Ubisoft big wigs and devs who describe that as they build the world of Assassin’s Creed 3, the re-discovered the Golden Age of Piracy that was the Caribbean in the 1700s. They found it was filled with a host of colorful characters that had the added benefit of being real, and who behaved like no person recorded to that point, taking what they wanted and living as they pleased in what amounted to floating democracies. Enter Edward Kenway (Grandfather to AC3’s Conner) a pirate trained by Assassins, who’s skill and process at sea and hand to hand earned the respect and fear of his crew. As Edward, the player character, gamers will captain The Jackdaw to chart their own course though the game; they can attack, board and capture any ship you see. Explore islands charted and uncharted, build/maintain/upgrade they ship and/or train the crew to be better fighters or sailors and even hunt wild life (including massive whales). Edward and also explore the bottom of the sea to find sunken treasure and in a moment that got the small theater cheering, fight off a shark with a cutlass then let it drag you around for a little while as it bleeds out. Finally, in combat Edward can carry four guns, wield dual cutlasses as well as use classic Assassin stealth kills.

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