On the PAX East 2012 show floor: BattleBlock Theater, The Secret World, Loadout and Smite

PAX East has come and gone. With panels, PC and Console freeplay stations, tabletop tournaments and over 100 show floor exhibits all happening simultaneously, the biggest challenge of my one day at PAX (Sunday) was figuring out what darned thing to do. I chose to stick to the main exhibition hall and get as many game demos under my belt as possible. Here's my personal top 5 list of worthy upcoming games:

BattleBlock Theater (Xbox Live)

After walking past so many mindless action games, it was a relief to come across this adorable little puzzle game by indie developer The Behemoth. Like their other games, Castle Crashers and Alien Homonid, this Xbox Live game is a co-op sidescroller. What makes Battle Block Theater unique is that it's cute on the outside, but deviously masochistic on the inside. The various "acts" and "scenes" in the game have traps and enemies that'll stump even the smartest of adventurers.

The Secret World (PC):

Finally, an MMO that doesn't take place in a medieval fantasy of elves, wizards and knights. Instead, this game puts players in the shoes of modern day civilians staving of zombies and other apocalyptic freaks with hammers and assault rifles and whatever you can find. It's stylish and very funny (for example, a priest prophecies the divine power of Google).

Loadout (PC):

Its tagline "Customize. Create. Kill!" may sound generic in this age of DIY-style shooter games, but it's a fair way to sum up this game's charm. Want a silencer on that thunder-shooting gatling gun? You got it. Let's put a sniper scope on that baby? No problem. At the demo, I participated in a heated 5v5 capture-the-point match after creating a gun that heals my teammates with a green ray from far away. Somehow, this death-ray-looking beam reassembles lost limbs when cast on a teammate under fire. It adds a fun strategic element to a fast-paced FPS.

Smite (PC)

With League of Legends' recent surge in popularity and Valve's Dota 2 set to hit shelves later this year, I was blown away by how well Smite took that action-strategy formula and put it in third-person view. That may not sound like a big change, but it is. Not seeing the whole map put me in an entirely new mindset as I killed waves of enemies and dueled with other players. As one of the developers put it, "Not being able to see behind your back adds a whole sense of paranoia to the game. It makes ganking a huge part of the strategy."

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