I'll Buy That...And One of That...And One of That...

Monday, September 12, 2011
Getting ahead of myself and sounding way too optimistic; I believe that PAX has become the new World's Fair of gaming. While in the past E3 has taken this title, this year, at the very least, more unveiling seems to have taken place at PAX according to attendees of both. I'll get back to the unveiling in a moment, but allow me to take a second to comment of my (clever) World's Fair analogy. Ever since the 1800s, the World's Fair has been the place where companies, their innovators, and successful inventors show exactly how they will change the future. Even if PAX's scope is gaming (and we like it that way!), this is the place where many gaming enthusiasts can showcase their ideas and allow people to give them a try. This is the place where producer and consumer alike can interact in the creation and evolution of gaming advances.

Amongst the showcases for Star Wars the Old Republic, Rage, Borderlands 2, Mass Effect 3, and various graphic development schools, there were two items that stood out to me. The OnLive system, and Razer's new gaming laptop, Blade (specs).

At first glance, the OnLive has that hipster underground feel. It is still a fairly new system that not many people have heard of yet, and hosts a (currently) humble selection of mainstream games. At a closer glance, it will not be long until this is either the largest gaming platform out there, or the way that other platforms will follow. OnLive has many incredible features, it allows you to "rent" a package of games for a set fee every month, buy a game for $50 or less that would be $60-$70 on console, interact with other gamers and cheer them on in real time, share "brag clips" or exciting clips from your gameplay, and my favorite feature: portability. While the actual OnLive system is extremely portable with its small size (small purseworthy, even), you can save your game while hooked up to your television, leave the system behind, and pick up your game on either your computer or, I believe soon to come, tablet! This is due to 100% of your gaming activity taking place in the cloud on your account. Your games, where you saved, everything is stored and played from a server. The second factor that makes this system incredibly portable is that it treats every controller, including its included one and the touch-screen interface of a tablet, as a virtual controller which they have preprogrammed for the game. As long as you have an Internet connection (which I assume you do, you're reading this right now, right?), OnLive is quite possibly the snazziest way to play video games without an optical drive!

There are many mourners of the death of the optical drive (*tear*) sometimes it is needed to increase portability by decreasing "unnecessary" weight. The cost and lack of optical drive would be my only two complaints about Razer's new baby. Blade is a fascinating specimen of a gaming laptop. For one, that is its sole purpose in life, to be a heavyweight gaming rig, that is as skinny as Twiggy (the European model) and with a similar impact on its audience. Blade is possibly the most dramatic innovation to PC gaming in years. Not only does it flaunt a deliciously sleek design, but the weight (7lbs!) to match! Not only that, but it contains absolute top of the line laptop gaming hardware (for 2011) within that thin chassis. Sure, any gaming laptop can be outfitted like this adding a little weight, however, what really makes the blade unique is its user interface. With a touchpad that becomes a second screen to look at a guide, watch email, or what-have-you while in-game if you so desire, and boasts 10 programmable buttons for use in and out of game. WANT!! There is no good way to describe the experience of using the Blade than to try it for yourself. It's unique, like bacon-flavored ice cream that is somehow amazingly delicious!

Innovations abounded at this year's PAX and I'm excited to see what improvements are going to come next year. Maybe they will serve bacon-flavored ice cream? Who knows, it's a mysterious world with many fascinating combinations!