SDCC 2012 - A first-hand view

-Phoenix Robbins

Pressing through the hordes of exasperated parents, wacky cosplayers, and bumptious collectors can be simply, a pain in the ass.  On the other hand, spending way too much money and bumping into stars you remember from your childhood (like Kevin Sorbo, and LeVar Burton), make it worthwhile.

Another bonus is stumbling upon an Xbox oasis in the middle of the crowded Gas-lamp.  I went across the street to the Hard Rock Hotel.  I had heard that somewhere inside was the chance for me to get my hands on some games that I had been itching to play.  I walked into an air conditioned, minimally populated, demo paradise.  There were even free sodas and goldfish crackers! Woo! On display was Borderlands 2, Resident Evil 6, Assassin’s Creed 3, Sleeping Dogs, Dance Central 3, Wreckateer, and a few others I got too distracted to pay attention to.

Having been a fan of the first one, I quickly made my way over to the Borderlands 2 demo.  There was the option of playing as the Gunzerker, Salvador or the Siren, Maya. Being the cliché girl that I am, I went with my girl, Maya.  The demo started me off at level 20 but it allowed me to choose how I wanted to allocate my 15 skill points.  (For those of you who didn’t play the first game:  Up until level 5 you don’t have any special powers.  After you reach level 5, you get one skill point per level to use in whatever way you please.)  I spent my points increasing her shields and her Phaselock skill.

I really wanted to focus on the Phaselock.  I’ve seen it used in videos but I wanted to see how it worked from a player’s perspective.  Due to my skill point upgrades, I was able to use it frequently.  Not quite as frequent as “spamming-it” but I could pick up enemies a few seconds after I dropped the previous one.  I also had an upgrade that created a little fiery shockwave when I used it.   

A great feature of the Phaselock is that it doesn’t matter the size of your enemies.  I was able to lift tiny creatures and huge bosses for the same amount of time.  This proved useful when I got overrun by tiny creatures.  I was able to lift the bigger guys and take out the little ones.  

The one negative I found was the controls were really squirrely; however I am not going to rule against it yet due to the fact that I wasn’t able to turn down the controller sensitivity.  (I like to play with my sensitivity in the 7-8 range rather than the 9-10 range.)    It’s got a lot of similarities to the first game while having drastically improved it as well.  The menus (including upgrade screens) are much easier to navigate, the guns have different damage levels (a pistol will not do the same damage as a shotgun), and the enemies are tougher.  Overall I’m pretty excited about it.  

Next I fiddled around with Sleeping Dogs.  It is cheesy as hell and the controls are not the best but there were a few cool deaths.  You’re able to grapple and then run with an enemy.  This allows you to throw them into things like vents, fans, electrical boxes, etc.  It was semi-entertaining but got old fast.  There were also some opportunities for free-running but unless you were spot on, you character stumbles.  This is really as much as I played.  It isn’t something I’m going to run out and buy.

Along with those games, I was able to watch some being played.  I watched a bit of Resident Evil 6.  While playing as Leon, the game seemed to have more of a classic RE feel as opposed to Chris’ side of the story which looked to me like a third-person Call-of-Duty.  I also watched a bit of Wreckateer.  It’s not going to be overly exciting, but it should be a fun family-game.  

After that, my Xbox oasis was discovered and started filling up.  Sadly, it was time to leave the free refreshments and Xbox demos and go back into the mob.