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PAX Prime 2014: Over Charge Your World!

Sunset Overdrive is the kind of first person shooter that is rarely made anymore: a combination of distinct visual style, esoteric gameplay and bombastic plot that seems like a throwback to the SNES days when Zombies Ate My Neighbors was a cult hit. Insomniac Games looks to make a splash with their first Xbox One game this fall after spending the last generation as a PlayStation exclusive developer and the initial outlook is pretty exciting.

It’s hard to describe all of the disparate influences and gameplay elements drawn together into the game, but an interesting way to look at it is a fusion of Team Fortress 2 and Jet Set Radio with a touch of Serious Sam thrown in for good measure. The PAX Prime 2014 demo of Sunset Overdrive had a team focused wave defense mode to try that had a vibrant neon colour palette and grinding/hook sliding paths for fast travel combined with outlandish weapons such as a harpoon gun and exploding teddy bears…! The degree of difficulty for an enemy kill combines with linked events (such as multi kills) and situational modifiers to increase scores, which rewards rapid movement by jumping and grinding around the map to build speed and increase overall availability of targets to fire upon. There’s a few spots where grinding end points drop players into concentrated clumps, but generally there’s more than enough room in the level for a full compliment of 8 players to constantly be engaged.

Gamers who have tried with Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare will find some familiar touches here, but the speed and sheer volume of overlapping events takes Sunset Overdrive to a more frenetic pace. There’s a lot to like in this early version, which promises to deliver an exciting and original entry to a shooter genre in need of a revitalization when it releases this fall.

Ryan Davis: 1979-2013

Like many of you, I was shocked to hear of long time video games personality Ryan Davis’ sudden passing when the news broke earlier today. He was a beloved personality who was deeply knowledgeable as well as respected within the industry by fellow journalists, the creators and the fans who love interactive entertainment.

Ryan was perhaps best known for departing GameSpot in the wake of his close friend Jeff Gerstmann’s firing as well as their subsequent reunification at Giant Bomb, a much more personal and free flowing video game site that has spawned a legion of hardcore fans including yours truly. Along with hosting the incredibly popular Giant Bombcast weekly audio show, he also hosted the hilarious This Ain’t No Game series on video game to movie adaptations as well as a nearly ubiquitous presence in Quick Looks, Mailbags and every other feature on the site.

To state that Ryan Davis meant a lot to those who knew him personally and/or professionally would be a gross understatement. The outpouring of love and condolences since the news broke has been overwhelming, and even fans who only knew him from videos, reviews and the Bombcast have flooded the Internet with condolences and anecdotes.

I never met Ryan personally, a regret that will now always stay with me. I’ve had a chance when attending the PAX live shows or the get togethers that happen afterwards, but I never quite got to it between choosing to meet Jeff at PAX Prime 2011 instead and conking out back at the hotel ASAP after an often grueling Friday to launch the shows. I always figured “He’ll always be at PAX, it will happen someday” and now I feel dismayed that it never will.

That said, I feel honoured that he always took the time to seriously and thoughtfully answer my questions at the live PAX shows from the long lines that formed. I will always remember Ryan playfully shouting me down at East 2012 when I (over)enthusiastically ran to get in the questions line, which was a great example of his spontaneity and fun loving spirit.

This sporadic gaming journalism experiment is also almost entirely the result of Ryan and Jeff post-Gamespot, when their Arrow Pointing Down podcast led to How to Build A Bomb and the DIY, close knit band of rebels that we now know and love as Giant Bomb. If Play With Pixels ever amounts to something big (and in spite of its historically infrequent content schedule, I hope it will), Ryan will be a hugely influential reason behind it.

In the end, we have lost one of the true greats in video games and more importantly, an integral part of the lives of his family, friends and fans. Happy trails, Ryan: we’ll make sure that your legacy of boisterous enthusiasm, charm and sincerity will endure.

Construction in Progress

A quick note, thanks for bearing with us as we work through some technical problems. The export from our previous host SquareSpace has not been entirely smooth, I know some of the recent blog posts have come up and down as we figure out some inconsistencies in the data that was ported over.

We should be able to bring back up the restored Metagame Monday archives and the other features by tomorrow night, thanks for hanging in there!