There are only a handfull of places you can bump into a laid off Storm Trooper and a dude dressed up in full garb as Princess Peach in the same day. One of those places is the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX), which is a series of gaming festivals held in Seattle, Washington and Boston, Massachusetts. It's a place to celebrate game culture, to let loose and participate in LAN parties and game tournaments, and if you're brave enough, to dress up as your favorite game character.
Cosplay (costume play) is all about having fun, and the guys and gals at PAX do it in spades (and tights and makeup and everything else). If you weren't able to attend the event this past weekend, don't worry, we rounded up a collection of 20 of the wildest, goofiest, and downright craziest costumes to grace PAX Prime 2012. Fair warning, however -- some things you simply can't un-see (don't worry, it's all safe for work), but then again, that's all part of the fun. Enjoy the geek gallery, and be sure to tell us which costume is your favorite!
FOR THOSE OF YOU wondering, no, "Might and Magic Heroes" is not a typo. For the sixth installment of the venerated strategy-RPG hybrid series, Ubisoft has changed the name from "Heroes of Might and Magic" to "Might and Magic Heroes." This inexplicable rebranding is the perfect embodiment of Might and Magic Heroes VI's fatal flaw: It doesn't know what it is, or what it wants to be.
Heroes VI skews way more toward the role-playing end of the RPG-strategy spectrum—many of the management elements from previous entries have been "streamlined" out of existence. Resource management, though not entirely removed, is one such casualty, being pared down to four simple building blocks: gold, wood, ore, and crystals. This makes building towns much quicker and simpler, but unfortunately, it also makes the various factions feel much too similar to one another in their macro approach to town and kingdom growth strategy.
While easier to build, the tactical value of towns is more important than ever. In addition to providing your kingdom with troops and gold, each town has a zone of influence. Unlike previous games, where any structure could be hijacked at any point, in Heroes VI, mines and creature dwellings cannot be seized until the local town is captured. Furthermore, all of your entire kingdom's troops can be purchased from any single town or fort, cutting back on backtracking, but also completely removing the strategic value of troop and resource supply lines. This devaluation of individual structures and the increased importance of towns make exploration, once one of the pillars of the Heroes experience, feel like little more than filler between a series of grueling siege battles.
A fabulous single-player experience in a massively multiplayer online game
STAR WARS: The Old Republic (TOR) comes with a buffet of a story for an MMO, but you only get to fill your plate once. From decisions as significant as choosing your character’s class specialization to events as trivial as responding to key dialog options, everything you do has a lasting and permanent effect on your gameplay. We like the feast: BioWare’s masterful use of instanced environments creates more captivating gameplay for the solo quester than most any other MMO.
But this is BioWare’s first foray into the massively multiplayer world, and it shows. TOR is more a role-playing game you play alongside 999,999 friends than a true MMO. BioWare either poorly integrates or completely misses the mark on many of the elements that define an MMO. On the upside, the beautiful blend of voice acting and dialogue options in each of TOR’s many quests should earn the game a celebratory parade through the Yavin 4 throne room. And while the scripted quests (occasionally punctuated by John Williams’s familiar score) are immersive, they make the rest of the game’s environments seem stale by comparison. TOR’s non-instanced “generic” areas just aren’t very player-interactive. The Nar Shadda casino, a cold and lifeless location that cries out for mini-games and interactivity, is just one example. And don’t get us started on TOR’s cantina music.
According to the Supreme Court, videogames qualify for First Amendment protection, and California's attempt to enact a law restricting the sale of violent videogames to minors was ruled unconstitutional. The 7-2 decision came in the case of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, and to rub salt in the wound, the ESA is now seeking $1.1 million in attorney's fees from the state of California, Arstechnica reports.
Gamers and free speech advocates alike scored a major victory today as the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a controversial California law that restricts the sale or rental of violent videogames to minors. Following a majority vote, the Supreme Court ruled that the law violates the First Amendment, noting that California sought to "create a wholly new category of content-based regulation that is permissible only for speech directed at children. That is unprecedented and mistaken."
With the E3 Expo in full swing, could there be a better time to smash gamer stereotypes? We think not, and neither does the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which used the convention to draw attention to new research about game players. Contrary to popular perception, the average gamer is 37 years old, and the average game purchaser is 41 years old, not some teenage kid yelling through Xbox Live with a controller in one hand and an energy drink in the other. More surprise stats after the break.
You may have grown up playing Pac Man in arcades by feeding quarters into large cabinets, or at home on your Atari 2600 system, and maybe you spent hours playing Ms. Pac Man and all the other followup titles. It doesn't matter, you've never navigated the ever-hungry yellow character through a collection of mazes like this before. An Australian creative agency has built what it claims is the World's Biggest Pac Man game, and we're not going to argue with them.
Any power user who's ever fixed a friend or family member's PC or worked a job in IT knows that less savvy computer users are easy targets for spreading malware. But just in case there was any doubt, PhishMe, a provider of anti-phishing training, announced the results from its free online game intended to assess a player's phishing knowledge. The results? Not good, but you'll have to hit the jump to see how bad participants fared.
Target this week announced plans to revamp its electronics and game section with a new open layout designed to enhance the shopping experience. Specifically, the videogame section is being retooled with 30 percent more floor space to make room for new product-accessible fixtures, such as game Learning Centers and Trial Centers.
"Target is committed to creating an intuitive and easy shopping experience for our guests," said Mark Schindele, senior vice president, Target. "The electronics and videogame reinvention was designed with the wants and needs of our guests as our top priority. They've asked for additional product diversity and better access to games and information, and our new layout offers them just that."
Target's timing is spot on. According to the NPD group, videogame hardware, software, and accessories generated $19.66 billion in revenue in 2009, so there are plenty of dollars to go around. One way Target will try to claim a larger share is through the use of its Learning Centers, which will feature a 40-inch high definition touch screen where guests can read reviews, learn about game features, view in-store price and inventory, sort by ESRB ratings, and more.
So when will this happen? In some stores, it already has. Target said the full chain rollout began in April 2010, while the majority of stores will have the new electronics layout completed by June 2010.