It wasn’t easy and we didn’t agree on everything, but somehow we’ve found a way to come up with our picks for the best of the best that we’ve seen this year at PAX East 2012. Please note that each title can only be mentioned in one category. We’ll be continuing more PAX East 2012 coverage within the coming weeks, too.
Best Non-Playable Title
Assassin’s Creed III
We were a bit shocked to see a massive booth designated for Assassin’s Creed III and while we were a bit disappointed not to get any hands on time with the title, the new trailer definitely left an impression on us. The newest numbered entry in the popular franchise is ready to bring out all the stops, bringing us to the front lines of the American Revolution and interacting us with important figures in our country’s history. It certainly helps that the environments are breathtaking, the possibilities for new assassinations are endless, and the controls revamped, there’s not a doubt in our minds that this will be the best Assassin’s Creed yet.
Runner Up: X-COM: Enemy Unknown
Rock Band fever, if Harmonix‘s booth was any indication, has not died down; it has only grown tenfold. With their attempt to revitalize interest in the music franchise with Rock Band Blitz working wonders, PAX attendees gladly lined up around the Rock Band stage to watch and cheer on fellow con goers as they live out their rock star dreams, only to get their own chance moments later. It was a non stop party we loved attending.
Runner Up: Riot Games
Western Gamers have yet to embrace the grind of a South Korean MMO, but then again, we haven’t seen one with a combat system like TERA‘s. Whether it was with the hot keys we had mapped on our keyboard or the comfort of a controller, jumping into groups of enemies and combo-ing our way to victory was satisfying, and to think, all of this was before we had a chance to step back and explore the world and take in the scenery. Here’s to hoping TERA sets a trend in terms of MMO combat.
Runner Up: The Secret World
Spec Ops: The Line
This one came out of left field. Between the hype of Ghost Recon, Far Cry 3, and Max Payne 3, Spec Ops: The Line won us over with tight gameplay, dedication to narrative, and impressive visual images. Traversing through a deserted Dubai left quite an impression on us, as did the simplicity of ordering our squad mates in real time. Spec Ops: The Line shakes the notion of being “just another brown shooter” and is ready to step toe to toe with the big boys.
Runner Up: Super Monday Night Combat
While we already knew that Tribes: Ascend is in good hands with High Rez Studios, Smite proves that the developer knows how to craft a great game. Taking the MOBA genre into a new direction with a third person camera, the game’s pace ran laps around MOBA staples such as DotA 2 and League of Legends. If you were able to spend five minutes watching the games on their televisions, you’d understand why there was such a crowd drawn to the booth; Smite is a blast to watch, and even a bigger blast to play.
Runner Up: Awesomenauts
We’ve been waiting for a break out MMOFPS for quite some time and Red 5 may have hit the mark. While there isn’t revolutionary about the quests themselves, they don’t have to be, since Firefall gave us the impression that we’re up against some pretty serious odds and need to use every weapon in our arsenal to kill those twenty spiders or get those ten artifacts. Combining the challenge of a shooter and the grind of an MMO is an absolute perfect marriage. Plus, it’s free to play!
Runner Up: Neverwinter
Rock Band Blitz
It’s such a simple title that brings us back to Harmonix‘s roots, yet one that was hard to put down. In the middle of the Rock Band party was Rock Band Blitz, a game so addicting yet simple it has me impatiently awaiting its release. Perhaps the best part about the title is the fact that anyone can pick it up, regardless of skill level and without fumbling around with plastic instruments, and in their own reality, live out their rock star dreams. We’ve known for quite some time that Harmonix is the best at the music genre; Rock Band Blitz affirms this notion tenfold.
Runner Up: Sleeping Dogs
Theatrythm Final Fantasy
Boy, were we wrong about Theatrythm. Not only will the title celebrating 25 years of Final Fantasy provide nostalgia for the series veterans, as well as a way for Square Enix to bring in a new audience to the series and introducing them to some of the best musical numbers in video gaming history, but provide a challenge for those who want one. After going through the original song selections in our hands on time, which were admittedly a bit easy, we found a couple of harder tracks that tested or skills. Theatrythm Final Fantasy is poised to be a curve ball from Square Enix that will indeed catch the plate.
Runner Up: Mario Tennis Open
Tucked away in the corner of the show floor was Loadout, a game we were all urged to play. The premise is simple: create your own weapon and bring it into battle with you. While some minor tweaks are needed to balance out some of the game’s default weapons, the possiblities for your own weapon are endless. You can choose to snipe from a-far with a rail gun, bring the battle up close and rain bullets, or jump from above and rain rockets down on your competition. Gamers who love tweaking and customization have found an indie title to fall in love with.
Runner Up: Quacamelee
Best In Show
Max Payne 3
We had the chance to sit down with Rockstar to check out Max Payne 3 and what we saw left us craving more of Mr. Payne. Rockstar told us that they are aiming to make Max Payne 3 the “most sophisticated and cinematic action shooter” to date. With a focus on cinematography and improved mechanics, Max Payne 3 is setting itself apart from other games in the genre with its uniqueness. The guys at Rockstar spent a lot of work on Max Payne 3, down to the fact that each bullet is individually modelled and uniquely-animated. To say that it’s poised to meet the developers high standards is an understatement.