PAX Prime 2012 Impressions – Kojima And Wii U

PAX Prime 2012, Seattle’s yearly gaming convention, wrapped up on Sunday. By now, most of you have heard the details and seen the 15-minutes of footage from Hideo Kojima’s new Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes. But PAX also offers plenty of demos on the showroom floor, and I got a chance to try a few of them.

Make no mistake – I’m a big fan of the Metal Gear series, so not only was I pleased to hear Hideo Kojima speak about its future, I got to try Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. There has been some doubt as to whether Metal Gear Rising would deliver after hearing about so many development issues and seeing how it isn’t a ‘Stealth Action’ game like the series proper. In his panel at PAX, Kojima even bluntly admitted, “We failed,” in regards to early development issues with the game. Kojima explained that having to pick up the pieces and get the game back on track served as the inspiration for the title ‘Revengeance’ – he and Platinum Games vowed to get their revenge against their previous failure and deliver a great game. And from what I can tell, Revengeance should be pretty cool.

At least it plays that way. The gameplay is surprisingly easy to pick up with a proper tutorial, and soon you are cutting enemies into several pieces, jumping off missiles, and slicing helicopters in half (watch the trailer – you do that). Plus there is a guy hiding in a cardboard box, which should make any Metal Gear fan smile. Provided the gameplay offers enough unique challenges to avoid repetition, my impressions from the demo have told me this game is going to be fun.

Playing Wii U before it even has a release date was a satisfying experience. While I’m not sure it’s a day-one buy, games like New Super Mario Bros. U, Rayman Legends, and ZombiU got me excited for the future. Isn’t that what a new console is supposed to do? Many gamers are fans of ‘traditional’ controllers and have expressed scepticism about the Wii U’s controller, so it was an exciting relief to know that the Wii U GamePad works.

While playing a first person shooter like ZombiU, I never felt disadvantaged with the unique controller when I wasn’t supposed to. However, when you’re unlocking a door, the game pressures you to stretch your peripheral vision to catch any movement on the TV of approaching zombies while you solve the puzzle on the touchscreen. It’s uncomfortable, exactly as it was intended to be. ZombiU was probably my favorite experience on the Wii U, and based on the buzz surrounding it at PAX, will likely be the system’s early draw for hardcore gamers. Exclusives, man. The game also helped me realize the possibilities for survival horror with the Wii U GamePad, having actually tried it.

New Super Mario Bros. U introduces a form of 5-player co-op, with one player using the Wii U GamePad to manipulate the environment to aid the other players. This feature for the GamePad is also implemented in Rayman Legends. The major difference feels like Rayman was built around it (and based off of the demos, it provides a much more complete experience). Rayman’s gameplay felt truly unique, with both the platforming player and the GamePad user contributing in tandem to spin wheels, solve puzzles, and take down enemies. For Mario, it’s still too early to know how well the game implements the GamePad, but at least we know your fifth friend who sucks at games won’t just have to watch anymore.

If you couldn’t tell, I had a great time at PAX Prime 2012. I’m really looking forward to next year’s whole new wave of Wii U games and possibly more with the next-gen right around the corner.

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  • ZanetheWise

    Nice write up. Someday I’ll make it to PAX. Someday…

    Anyway, I’m glad to still hear positive things about ZombiU as the Wii U launch (whenever that might be) crawls closer. The fears that this might turn out to be Wii U’s Red Steel seem unfounded. Sounds like a blast to play.