Monday, March 25, 2013

Barracks Special Report: Mr. Zarak goes to PAX

Got a little something different for you today in lieu of the usual reviews. Partially because it was my birthday and partially because it was there, I traveled to Boston last weekend to attend my (shockingly) first ever convention, PAX East! A large convention geared around games both electronic and of the good old fashioned paper variety, PAX is where companies can show off and promote goods both current and upcoming and fans can try out demos, play a multitude of games, get free stuff, buy non-free stuff and dress up like their favorite characters. Though it runs from Friday to Sunday, my group of friends and just attended Sunday's festivities but there was certainly no lack of things to do and see. As I spent 90% of my time annoying people with my camera, this is going to be picture heavy. You've been warned.

Approaching the convention center. That's my good friend Metal Kyle on the lower right. Oddly enough, his face really does that in person.

A view of the lobby. Despite the massive amounts of people in attendance, getting in was quick and easy with no real line.

Really cool statue of a savage wizard generating a glowing orb of energy. I like his floating spell book and the ground beneath him shattered by his power! No idea what he's from, but what I learned this weekend was that if I don't recognize a character, odds are he/she is from League of Legends.

The first cosplayer I encountered and the first of a few Chells from Portal. This girl gets bonus points for making her own gun however, instead of just buying the super expensive (but super cool) NECA replicas. Plus she's pretty cute.

Team Fortress 2 was a popular choice for costumes, but this pint-sized Pyro and Engineer were the only members of their class I saw. Plus they were like ten so it was adorable.

Another lobby statue, this one promoting a game called Firefall. The big machinery piece behind them rose up and down and had some flashing lights on it. A giant, pulsating phallic object behind a half-naked sci-fi chick, Freudian.

No idea what game this icy barbarian is from, but awesome statue.

The first of a few Borderlands Psychos running around. This one had a plasma cutter from Dead Space though. Meaning he either beat up Isaac Clarke or the CEC and Atlas Corporation have shady ties...

The white boards outside of some of the free play rooms had pretty nice illustrations on them.

Or just straight up amusing drawings like poor Link here.

This made me chuckle, especially since it was the next door down from the Smash Brothers one.

This guy had an awesome homemade Vault 53 outfit from Fallout: New Vegas. There were a lot of people who half-assed Fallout costumes by just wearing Vault 101 hoodies, but this guy went all out.

There were some large framed prints of video game art near a bank of escalators. Can't remember what game this is, but I know I've read about it in the past.

This one's not ringing any bells, but it's a cool spaceport type scene.

Pretty sure this is a Halo 4 landscape.

The robed figure crosses the desert, from Journey.

No idea if this guy is from a game or not, I just liked his style. Dig the birdcage staff.

A White Mage from the Final Fantasy series. Nice legs.

This chick was awesome, she was prancing through the hallways clacking her coconut halves together in a pretty damn good impression of Patsy from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. After I asked to take her picture, I found out she worked at the con and her giant backpack was full of free stuff!

This guy gave me a free pin and I admired his moxie enough to snap a picture.

One of many instances where when I didn't know who someone was dressed as, they turned out to be League of Legends characters. Which struck me as odd because before this, I was only vaguely aware of LoL, never realized it was such a force.

Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII. She just had to blink right when I took the picture...

I admire this girl's dedication; she could barely move in this thing and had two people helping her suit up intially, but that's a totally homemade and pretty impressive Swampert costume.

This guy was a perfect Luigi, when I saw him later, he had a tool belt complete with toilet plunger! I think the only reason it's absent here is because I caught him right as he was running for the bathroom. He was a good sport though and totally struck a pose.

These horse head masks crack me up so I had to get a picture of this guy when I saw him. Oddly, he would not be the only horse head mask wearer in attendance.

Ryu! This guy was good, he dropped into a Hadouken stance as soon as I lifted the camera. There were a decent amount of Street Fighter cosplayers around, including another Ryu, Dan, a Chun Li and a smoking hot Cammy I was too embarrassed to ask for a picture.

Auron from final Fantasy X. That sword is custom made and looked really cool.

Giant Chandra art adorning the walls of the Magic booth.

Rebecca and Barry from Resident Evil! Very cool.

Replica of Garrett's armor and bow from Thief.

Bethesda had a huge booth and was promoting The Elder Scrolls Online. This was one of a few giant screens showing teaser trailers. I couldn't garner much story wise since it's hard to watch even a thirty second video with a sea of people flowing around you, but it all looked very cool and slick.

Some folks in line to check out Elder Scrolls Online. This was one booth I had some interest in seeing the inside of, but the line wrapped all the way around and back so I passed.

Even the back of Bethesda's booth had awesome artwork.

I took a lot of pictures of Elder Scrolls Online stuff just because I love Elder Scrolls in general. I liked how these banners were staggered so they lined up at certain angles.

Another Elder Scrolls Online still.

These three characters featured heavily in all of the Elder Scrolls Online art and fought in one of the trailers. I'm not sure if they are unique NPCs you'll encounter or if they are just meant to be general representations of what your character could look like depending on your play style, but they were very nicely done.

I think this awesome giant skeleton dragon was part of the Neverwinter Nights display.

The Behemoth studios booth had this statue of the Blue Knight from Castle Crashers atop it.

Security at The Behemoth's display was tough, but adorable.

The back of The Behemoth's booth. Security was no nonsense about loitering.

I refrained from making a "I found you!" joke when I took this Waldo's picture, I'm sure he thanked me for it deep down inside.

Full sized statue of Sam Fisher from the Splinter Cell series at the Ubisoft booth.

Assassins were a popular costume choice, as seen here. I think there's at least three games worth of protagonists here. And that one guy who looks like he's mad just to be there? His attitude did not improve.

Nerdy though I may be, I don't think I had ever seen so many dice in one place in my life before I hit the vendor tables.

There's just something visually pleasing about that many dice sorted and arranged...

"You attempt to taste the rainbow! Roll for initiative!"

Sazh from Final Fantasy XIII. He didn't have a Chocobo chick in his hair, but he was a real nice guy so I let it slide.

Sazh's girlfriend was dressed as Chun Li. I don't remember that happening in XIII, but it probably would have made the plot more interesting.

This giant-ass mech was perched atop the booth for a game called Hawken. Occasionally, the base it stood on spouted up clouds of fog, shrouding it's feet.

Pop Cap had a whole mini carnival set up, complete with one of those test your strength games where you try to ring a bell by slamming down a hammer and a "Kiss the Zombie" booth for having your picture taken with a guy in a great Plants vs. Zombie Zombie costume. He was always swamped with people though so I failed to get a picture.

A fraction of the Magic cards available at the vendor tables.

Event Decks, Duel Decks, Pre-Cons, Fat Packs and more!

Inflatable Portal Sentry Turrets and unicorns. I think the unicorns are a Team Fortress 2 thing, but I'm not "hip."

A view from the escalator of a section of the PC game area where you could play a whole bunch of games against other folks.

Nintendo's pokemon booth had a guy in a giant Pikachu suit you could have your picture taken with. My apologies to the random woman I captured here; I wanted a picture of Pikachu but didn't want to wait in line, sorry if this picture somehow ends up ruining your life through a series of sitcom-esque hijinks.

The inside of the Pokemon booth, decorated with the newest generation of starters. And Pikachu because his contract calls for it and they don't care that he's fifty now and has a bad hip.

One of the many rooms set up with dozens of monitors and consoles running various games that you could jump in on and play whenever you felt like, this being the Xbox 360 room.

Another White Mage! Better costume design than the first one, but not as hot. That seemed to be a trend; Girls either had super involved, accurate costumes or if they were hot, less intricate versions that accented their hotness instead. No offense to this White Mage though, she was still cute, just the first one was rocking some sexy legs.

This was part of a free play DDR type game where you got up and danced to music. You can't tell from this shot, but this guy was burning up the stage to "Call Me Maybe."

A display case of classic Activision game patches and some prototype game cartridges. There was one called Save the Whales!

This girl was awesome. Not only did she have a perfect Prince costume, but she's a minor internet celebrity thanks to this great picture of her looming over PAX East 2012 with the Katamari, contemplating how many people, tables and booths she can roll up with it. She knew immediately what I was going to ask her before I even finished my sentence and confirmed she was indeed that same Prince.

The Blues Brothers were in attendance, that half tank of gas must have been enough to make it to Boston.

One of my favorite cosplayers, this guy made this insanely intricate Nightingale costume from Skyrim himself!

CHEWIE! Strangely the only Chewbacca present, hanging out with one of a few Links and a girl whose outfit I don't recognize off hand. Sorry lady, it still looked cool.

Aerial view of Microsoft's Xbox display.

The League of Legends booth. This place was hopping, literally as the MC had the crowd jumping and chanting and just generally going wild all day long. Apparently LoL players know how to party.

I think this chick was League of Legends related as well.

There were a few Steves from Minecraft who just had the mask and wore a normal blue T-shirt and jeans alongside it, but this kid gets kudos for going full on block and building his costume in such a way that he has no elbow joints. You got to suffer for your art man.

Princess Daisy and one of the radishes from Super Mario Brothers 2! I had to give that guy credit for originality, no one else is going to show up in that costume.

They were hyping the hell out of this Wildstar game. The gameplay itself just looked like World of Warcraft crossed with Starcraft to me, but what do I know.

A cool mural of various Marvel characters on the back of their booth promoting Marvel Heroes. Had to get it at an angle because too many people were milling around it.

Another Link accompanied by the Frost King from Adventure Time and a guy whose costume I didn't recognize, sorry man.

Another of my favorites, Donkey Kong ala Donkey Conga! It takes guts to run around a convention in just a furry vest and tie, but this guy was a pro. He went nuts on those bongos when I asked if I could get a picture of him.

The only Boba Fett I spotted.

This hallway was where you could play your 3DS with other people and it was packed. Might have had something to do with the giant, comfy bean bag chairs they lined it with.

Sweet D&D mural.

This vendor had a variety of solid metal dice. I almost bought the big bronze D20 to the top left, but twenty bucks was a bit rich for my blood.

Magic was all about putting sexy Chandra on everything they had.


They did shake it up with some sexy Liliana though.

Don't know what game this rhino man belonged to, but he merited a picture.

Even more dice!

These were one of the few things I actually stopped to fiddle with. Wooden half circles with slots carved along the rim called Skallops, they allowed you to build things by linking together playing cards. I tried to build something, but found the cards can get stressed easily and not support the weight of your work.

Ash! I just wanted a picture of this guy because he had a good costume, but I realized at the same moment that I had gone to high school with him.

This was a new (I think) D&D game that used cards and cool little mono colored miniatures like these trolls, elementals, drider and so forth.

Miniatures of Drizzt and Guenhwyvar. I really hate trying to spell that, I think R.A. Salvatore did that on purpose.

A dragon! The bright, singular colors coupled with the small size made me think of Monster in My Pocket, which I loved as a kid.

Relax, zombuddy!

This guy again and he still looks like he hates everyone around him.

I feel kind of bad because this guy really wanted to tell me about the game, whereas I really just wanted pictures of his booth art.

Ghostbusters and a female Han Solo. The Ghostbuster on the right was My Little Pony themed with pink and blue gear adorned with characters from the show. I will never understand Bronies.

Old school Power Rangers team! Under the masks, they're all dudes. Which made me wonder if the Yellow Ranger appreciated the irony.

Blizzard had a booth, but they were pretty low key, focusing mainly on Diablo III and a new Warcraft heroes game of some sort.

Awesome Harley Quinn and Joker couple. There were a couple other Harleys around and one other Joker, but these two looked the best.

A shot of the crowd. I've run into a lot of rude, foul-smelling nerds in my time, so I feared the worst  upon arrival, but everyone was very friendly and polite. Stay classy, PAX crowd.

This arena was set up so you could wallop people American Gladiators style.

The merc with a mouth! There was a green suited Deadpool too, but I apparently didn't get a picture of him.

Nice Helljumper costume from Halo: ODST.

Another Chell accompanied by an Aperture Sciences technician with a Companion Cube.

Gaige, the Mechromancer from Borderlands 2.

One booth was demonstrating a 3D printer, these are some of their wares. I was particularlly impressed by the Tachikoma.

The 3D printer at work. Doesn't look very exciting here, but it was cool it watch.

This game seemed to involve commanding fleets of steam punkish airships in battle. The guys playing it were kind of annoyed by me even though I asked if they minded me taking a picture, so I didn't stay here long.

Another Waldo and Walda!

This girl came running up as I was taking a picture of her friends and wanted in, so I said what the hell.

This chick had a very nice costume of the protagonist of Journey.

While Red Team boasted a Pyro, an Engineer, a Spy, a Medic and at least three Scouts, these guys were the only Blue Team members in attendance. They have their work cut out for them.

He's a little paunchy, but had a perfect Keaton Batman scowl.

I saw these two coming down the escalator from a distance and knew I needed a picture of them right there, but it didn't hurt that Sonic had a fantastic chest.

Doctor Horrible, taking a break from battling Captain Hammer.

Pretty much right around the corner from that Doctor Horrible, I found this one, complete with death ray and Wonderflonium.

Yet another cool, light up statue whose origins I know nothing about.

My sources tell me this is a character called Fiddlesticks from, you guessed it, League of Legends. All I know is he was on stilts and had a giant scythe, I wasn't messing with him.

Finding both Jesus and Waldo in the same day was rewarding.

I forgot to take a picture of their sign, but this is from the booth of a company called Geek Chic who make really fantastic wooden furniture and replica weapons.

Their work was all very impressive and if I had had a few hundred extra bucks on me, I would own this war hammer.

All their pieces were very nice and I think they were my favorite vendor booth. Also, they had wooden mustaches on pocket chains like the upper lip equivalent of  monocles.

They had quite the selection of weapons with very fair prices.

They also make things like this hard wood gaming table, though I was a bit more interested in the dungeon terrain they had set up in it.

Wouldn't be a gaming convention without Steve Jackson!

Another of my favorites were this Elite NCR Ranger and (I think) NCR Sniper complete with New California Republic flag!

Another Ash with a Pikachu that wasn't just a stuffed toy for once! I didn't notice at the time, but I love how he darkened and thickened his eyebrows to look more cartoony.

Another fantastic one, this time the Sith Stalker skin you can unlock in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. It's a really delightfully evil looking, cyborg failed Sith apprentice with a mask like Boushh's and a ton of lightsabers clipped to the belt and this guy nailed it, he's even holding his primary saber reversed like how your character grips his in game.

Random zombie chick mannequin from the booth for Dead Island: Rip Tide. The rest of which I apparently didn't think was important enough to photograph but included a large fake palm tree.

Snake? Snake?!? SNAAAAKKKEEEEEEE!!! There were a few Snakes of various solidity around, but this was the only one with a box! Also, the others managed to evade me before I could get pictures. Damn, they were taking their cosplay seriously!

I won't even try to lie to you by claiming to know what Solforge is all about, but the art is pretty fancy.

Solforge also had this giant, spinning death sun hanging above the booth. I risked life and limb by standing still in the middle of an aisle during a convention to wait for it to come around for a good picture.

Dragons in futuristic D20 cities? Cyber-Wizards regarding robot skulls? Spinning orbs of fiery, iron ringed death? What's your game, Solforge?

The other side of the booth was devoted to a game called Ascension, which I think is just a card game and not also a video game as I had initially assumed, it was just being promoted in both sections of the convention center. This was Ascension's giant hanging banner and it totally trounces Solforge's banner of the same size. "Cyber-Wizards? Boring! Eat hooded mage guy slicing up demon octopus tentacles, Solforge!"

Alright well maybe the Ascension booth art isn't as exciting as a dragon, but it's still pretty nifty. I like the multiple fine, over-lapping lines style this artist has.

Ubisoft would like you to know they have another Assassin's Creed game coming out. I know repetition is the whole point, but these "Assassin in white in front of a white background with only his weapons differentiating him from any of the other protagonists" covers are just so bland.

I've heard The Last of Us is pretty good. The booth was of course playing video of that fungus that bursts out of ants' heads after zombifying them to remind you both of the game's plot and how horrible it will be when one of those fungi catches wind of this idea and decides it's a good one.

Full sized Iron Man cut out on the front of the Marvel Heroes booth. There was a slick Black Costume Spidey on the other side too, but too many people in the way again.

A banner of Link from the Nintendo booth.

The back of the Nintendo booth had some nice, big art of recent games, including Pikmin the Third.

And Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. Right next to Pikmin 3! You think they'd break up the threes.

See? They could have dropped The Wonderful 101 here right in the middle and had much better balance.

Solforge isn't the only game in town when it comes to big, aerial spinny-things,

Lego had a Lego City: Undercover booth right next to Nintendo where you could get your picture taken with a guy in big, kind of unnerving Chase McCain costume.

I saw this Johnny Cage early on, but he eluded me at first. When I found him again, he was accompanied by a Tifa so, bonus. Much like Donkey Kong earlier, I admire this guy for having the balls to walk around a convention shirtless all day.

Princess Zelda and yet another character I didn't recognize until a friend informed me she too is from League of Legends, her name is Caitlyn apparently. They also happened to be really hot Asian chicks.

Old Famicom cartridges! Tactics Ogre, Mario Kart, Super Mario 3, some form of Bomberman, a Dragon Warrior, awesome.

I took this for a better shot of the Ultraman game, but I just spotted a Gundam head poking up from the first row as well.

This replica of a Zed's Meds machine was dispensing free baseball caps with the Borderlands logo on them when we first arrived, but was long depleted by the time I took this. I don't look good in caps anyways.

This bull sculpture is probably just always on display, but it was new to me.

The lone Batgirl I encountered in my travels. She had a pretty good costume though.

No idea who this girl was dressed as, but everyone else seemed to know and were complimenting her on it, so taking a wild guess I'm going to say someone from League of Legends. She had real metal wrenches and socket wrench bits accenting her tool belts and pouches and looked very much like a steam punk mechanic.

This dude was on a Poke Safari. I actually started talking to him because he and his friend were trying to give away a box of Yu Gi Oh cards they purchased during a last day of the convention sales frenzy from a vendor who had mislabeled them as Magic cards. They couldn't convince me to take them, but not fifteen seconds after leaving them on the bench with a free sign did a couple of guys come along and start praising their good fortune in finding the box.

Wreck-It Ralph had been giving me the slip all day, but I caught him and Vanellope at the end of the day and finally got a picture. I actually didn't realize his girlfriend was in costume at first since she's as tall as he is and not up to his knee with a giant head.

I had given the event schedule a single glance before shoving it in my bag never to be opened again and contenting myself with taking pictures of every little thing that amused me, but there was one thing that had caught my attention; Kris Straub was there somewhere. I wasn't about to miss gushing like an idiot fan boy to the man behind chainsawsuit and Starslip Crisis. I wasn't a complete idiot, but I still forgot to ask him to make out the copy of Starslip Volume 2 I bought to me personally instead of just jotting a generic signature. Oh well, he drew me a sketch of Mr. Jinx so really it's still a win.

This is the Adventure Time side of the giant swag bag WeLoveFine was handing out when you made a purchase at their booth. They had some really awesome and amusing shirt designs and this bag was a godsend; My usual messenger bag filled up almost immediately after we arrived and until I bought the shirts that earned me this bag, I was juggling freebies and my camera like a fool. A fool!

The other side of the bag features Hello Kitty as all of KISS. Sure, why not? It was real convenient having this bag hanging off your shoulder as you could fit literally anything in it and the opening was at the perfect angle to just dump whatever you picked up or were handed right into it. At one point, I was carrying the shirts I bought, Starslip Volume 2, all my free stuff, my winter coat and my messenger bag and it still wasn't even close to full! It's so damn big, I kept seeing it out the corner of my eye and thinking it was a person when I had it sitting in the passenger seat of my car on the drive home.

All the freebies and promotional materials I managed to gather throughout the course of the day, including my entry badge and a cool little necklace that fastens magnetically and I think is supposed to cause the pendant on the end to light up when you complete the connection, but mine doesn't. I actually found a whole lot more free stuff in another bag after taking this picture, but even so, I know I didn't even scratch the surface on the amount of things that were available for grabs.

We arrived not long after dawn and we left as the sun descended once more. My feet were blistered, my legs ached, my eyes were dry, my head hurt and I was coated in a glaze of dried sweat, but what an amazing day. Many thanks to my friends who invited me along and to all of the people who were kind enough to let me get pictures of them, I can't wait to go again next year!

1 comment:

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