Friday, 30 October 2015 13:51

PAXAUS 2015 Day Zero

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Wandering through the EXPO hall just prior to the extra-keen hoards is a privilege. The team behind the Penny Arcade eXpo continue to refine formula for this people-orientated geek-fest of goodness.

I spent what amounted to a leisurely hour of watching the panicky booth owners taping out line markers on the floor and making sure all the technology is in place for the start of Australia’s biggest player/geek/enthusiast gaming and play convention PaxAus.

There are many other things besides video games to look at whilst at PAXAUS, board-games, table-top miniatures, retro games and importantly Panels (particularly 3PM in the Kookaburra Theatre on Sunday <end of plug>), but this morning I only scoured the electronic-gaming floor space.

Highlights include the large theatre devoted to Bethesda Game Studio’s Fallout 4 due for release in a few short days, this also included some sneak preview video of the id Software Doom reboot featuring gibs aplenty but a strange old-style feel to the Doom Alpha video on show.

The big names are here, Sony bolsters the return presence of Nintendo and Microsoft to round out the trio of major console manufacturers, whilst Alienware has a myriad of Steam Machines – including the intriguing controller – for people to try.

Speaking of trying, we had a chance to try the PlayStation VR headset (formally known as Project Morpheus) – it is quite impressive. Our demo, without removing my spectacles, started in a seating position, being verbally abused by a would-be torturer.

Looking around the hazy room gives a very realistic 3D experience with both sound and – importantly – visuals proving to be very natural.

The game part of the experience involves standing at a desk and reaching out – you have a lit Move controller in each hand – and opening drawers on the desk.

Because the Playstation camera is picking up the Move controllors as well as the lights on the PlayStation VR head set itself, it is possible to move physically in the 3D space. I needed to step forward slightly to reach some of the drawers.

In one draw is a gun, in another is a key to a third cabinet that reveals a diamond, but also sets off alarms drawing guards. Shooting is a somewhat inaccurate experience (actually it is probably accurate for a real life hand gun) but by ducking behind the desk for cover, reloading with your spare hand and shooting frantically I got the job done.

At one point I reached out to steady myself on the desk, only at the last minute realising it wasn’t real. Still no release date for PlayStation VR, and it will suit only certain people, but it is coming along very nicely and quite a unique experience.

Software that can be played at PaxAus includes Just Cause 3, Darksouls III, Warhammer Total War, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Star Wars Battlefront, Tom Clancy's The Division, Disney Infinity 3.0, Rainbow Six Siege, Unravel and many many more.

The “more” also includes an extra expanded “indie” section with such a variety of game-play experience that it would be difficult to want for more.

But there is heaps more. PaxAus is on at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre as well as the Convention Centre from today through Saturday and Sunday.

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Mike Bantick

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Having failed to grow up Bantick continues to pursue his childish passions for creative writing, interactive entertainment and showing-off through adulthood. In 1994 Bantick began doing radio at Melbourne’s 102.7 3RRRFM, in 1997 transferring to become a core member of the technology show Byte Into It. In 2003 he wrote briefly for the The Age newspaper’s Green Guide, providing video game reviews. In 2004 Bantick wrote the news section of PC GameZone magazine. Since 2006 Bantick has provided gaming and tech lifestyle stories for iTWire.com, including interviews and opinion in the RadioactivIT section.

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