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PAX East 11: Hands On At The Warner Bros. Booth

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My time at the Warner Bros. booth at PAX East 2011 actually held a couple of surprises for me. Go figure! Of course, I wasn't terribly surprised by my hands on time with F.E.A.R. 3. Instead of an immersive solo player experience, they were demoing one of the multiplayer modes which I'm going to call "Effin' Run" because I want to keep it clean, here. So basically, you and your squad must race full-tilt boogie through a series of narrow streets, battling enemies along the way while staying ahead of a Wall of Death that keeps bearing down on you. Unfortunately, while listening to an explanation of the game and its mechanics distracted me, so all I could really do was play catch-up as the other three guys in my squad pretty much did all the heavy lifting. My only real contribution to the group was to get stuck between a car and a wall so I was unable to free myself before the Wall of Death took me and ended our session. Sorry!

I'm sure I would've enjoyed a single-player demo a lot more, but as far as sound, graphics and gameplay go, F.E.A.R. 3 was still a very impressive package, and should please fans of the series. Well, as long as they don't screw up the story. It'll be out in May for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.

I also had some time to play a round of Mortal Kombat, which is due out on April 19 on the PS3 and 360. I ended up playing a tag-team mode, where I selected the shirtless duo of Johnny Cage and Liu Kang. Fighting is done on a 2D plane, and all your favorite Kombatants are back. The graphics are ridiculously detailed, and that was actually my only problem with the game. It plays just as smoothly as you'd hope, but with such detail to the graphics, by the end of a match, it was turning my stomach. There was blood everywhere, flesh was hanging off, and bones were exposed. I hate to admit it, but it was almost too gross for me! On the other hand, there's an X-ray attack that you can pull off when your meter gets high enough, and that causes the camera to zoom in on the area of attack and show an X-ray of the damage. For instance, when my opponent's Mileena sent her sai up into Johnny's intestines. That was cartoony enough not to bother me, though. It was just all that gore! Maybe I'm getting soft in my old age!

The real surprise for me was Lord Of The Rings: War in the North. It's an action RPG based off the original books, not the movies, which gives them more source material to work from, and more leeway in how it's presented. Three characters — a human, an elf and a dwarf — embark upon an epic adventure, and teamwork is key. You can play co-op with two friends either locally or online, but if you're flying solo and still want to play, the AI will take care of your partners. Friends can drop in and out at any time. The graphics were spectacular right from the start, and I was promised that the game doesn't just take place in the North, so you'll see more than just snowy mountaintops! Sharing is an important aspect of the game as you will use your own character's skills to help make your team stronger and all the loot is divvied up equally. Unfortunately, because this was the game I found myself most excited about, it's the one furthest away. It should be out sometime in 2011 for the 360, PS3 and PC (although there's no cross-platform play, unfortunately).

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