PAX East 2011 Recap

…When it comes to how big of an expo hall it takes to house the always amazing Penny Arcade Expo. After the inaugural Boston event last year at the Hynes Convention Center, it was blatant that there needed to be an even bigger space to satiate all of the bloodthirsty east-coasters who had been waiting for PAX to come closer to home. This year, the folks at the Penny Arcade planned to meet the demand by scaling up to the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. Although not as conveniently located in the heart of commerce that the Hynes provided, PAX East 2011 proved to be one of the most amazing PAX experiences for both enthusiast and industry folks alike.

Once again, ASTRO Gaming boasts the title of “The Official Headset of PAX” to kick off the 2011 series of PAX events. In addition to outfitting the entire PC Freeplay room with both our A30 and A40 headsets, we were able to outfit many of our favorite partner’s booths for their new and hot titles as well. We were able to help provide an ASTROnomical audio experience to: Capcom, EA, Sony/Zipper, Uber Entertainment, Ubisoft, and Wizards of the Coast. Although we didn’t bring out the booth to the event, the ASTRO crew was out in force this year. ASTRO Stanimal and myself were there as usual, but we were fortunate enough to have ASTRO Warblade, our amazing community and forum moderator, out with us as well. With all the great things we took in this weekend, we had the challenge of whittling our experiences down to the single thing that each of us is the most excited about from the show. Here’s what it came down to:

ASTRO Warblade:
While most people would be really excited to see the big name games on the show (I mean, what’s not to love about Gears of War 3), I found a little gem of a game called Orcs Must Die. Created by the independent game studio Robot Entertainment, the game features a mix between a tower defense game and a 3rd person action game. You’re character is trying to protect his fellow humans from the Orc’s incoming invasion via reaching a rift portal in each area. With a variety of weapons and traps available at your disposal, they can be setup to simply spike, smash, and crush the enemies or you can creatively launch orcs from a spring box into a trap of spinning blades for more fun. The variety of ways the levels can be played make it a game that you can come back to again and again. It’s scheduled to come out later this year on both PC and Xbox Live Arcade.

ASTRO Stanimal:
What I love about PAX every year is that I’m always introduced to the top and most popular titles as well as some of the raddest DLC titles. I’ve found a ton of XBLA or PSN games that I’ll actually spend way more time playing than full titles. Just look at Shank, Deathspank, Super Meat Boy, Scott Pilgrim, and Sonic Episode 4, all insanely fun games from last year. This year, one that stood out were Robot Entertainment’s Orcs Must Die, a fun looking third-person shooter where you just mow down orcs over and over. Who knows? Move over zombies and aliens, orcs could be the next best thing to kill in unhealthily large numbers.

Another XBLA/PSN title that I wish I could’ve checked out was Trenched by the excellent folks at Double Fine. I’m bummed that I didn’t get a chance to play it but I’ve been keeping tabs on it because it’s a 4-player co-op game where you get giant customizable mechs to run around, drop turrets, and kill aliens. I’m thinking it’s like some part MechWarrior meets tower defense. If you ask me, that’s just rad.

ASTRO Xarion:
I had a terrible time choosing a single thing to talk about. In the end, it came down to Battlefield 3, Portal 2, or Star Wars: The Old Republic. I am eagerly anticipating each of these titles, but as I *have* to choose a single one, I’m going to have to give the gold medal to Battlefield 3. I’m a fanboy of the franchise, and have loved watching it get better and better over the years. For me, Battlefield was an integral part of my early PAX experiences as I competed in the tournaments at the shows with my team three years in a row, taking either first or second place. The game itself is nothing less than gorgeous and the fights that they showed in the gameplay demo were so intense that I found myself holding my breath at times needing to remind myself to inhale. The Frostbite 2 engine definitely knows how to blow apart buildings as beautifully as if you’re watching the final scenes from Fight Club, so all of you camping snipers beware. I’m coming for you. Time to start building out a new gaming PC so I can run everything at the “You’re freaking crazy” settings.

If you’ve never been to a PAX event, we can’t stress how incredibly fun these things are. It’s a celebration of all things gaming. There’s always tons of great panels, awesome games, and fun parties. We get to see old friends, make new friends, and finally connect with online friends in person. We never get bored with it, and we bet you won’t either.

Check our Facebook Page to see the full gallery of pics we took from the event.

-The Astro Crew