Dress-up for grown-ups
Every year, the Penny Arcade Expo host some of the best cosplay in the world. And some of the worst. And some of the weirdest. Whether it's incredible or just plain weird, we've compiled a list of the 25 best cosplayers we came across during all three days of PAX East 2012. It's the only place in the world where you can meet Bumblebee Luigi, Steampunk Chell, and a Skyrim Khajiit all on the same day.
1. Twin ManHawks
This picture is just loaded with awesome. Not only are these ManHawk Dragon Age 2 costumes incredible, but these dudes are also matching twins. Want more awesome? We realized later that the guy on the right side of the picture, in the jeans, hoodie, and glasses, is actually Dragon Age lead writer David Gaider.
2. Mordin Solus
This Mordin Solus cosplay at one of Bioware's big panels was easily one of our top candidates for Best-in-Show this year. He was the very model of a scientist Salarian.
3. Templar Commander Meredith
At the same panel we met this cosplayer dressed as Templar Commander Meridith from Dragon Age 2. Maybe not as impressive as Mordin's latex mask, but she scores extra points for tenacity.
4. Alex Mercer
Bioware cosplay is fairly common, but it's rare to find a Prototype costume at PAX. The blade arm on this Alex Mercer boasted some fine workmanship.
5. Guitar Link
We found this electric guitar rockin' Link outside the convention center on the first day, serenading fans with guitar versions of Zelda songs.
We almost didn't include this because we're pretty sure this Pit from Kid Icarus was corporate-sponsored, but what the hell, fine work is fine work.
League of Legends is always a popular subject for PAX cosplayers, and this version of Ashe was one of the best.
8. Medic and Chell
On the second day we scope this TF2 Medic walking along with a steampunk version of Portal 2's Chell. Only at PAX.
9. Bumblebee Luigi
This guy was just a bundle of joy. He wore that Luigi costume every day at the show, but with different variations on the theme. On this day, we caught him with a bumblebee ensemble.
10. Kitana and Scorpion
Kitana and Scorpion scored points with us not only for their great getups, but also for being the only couple to actually act out the game they were representing.
Women cosplaying as Spartans are rare, so even though this one was dressed as Halo: Reach's Kat, it was still a surprise when she removed the helmet and pulled a Samus Aran on us.
12. Lightning and Vanille
The level of detail on the sword and costumes this ersatz Lightning and Vanille (from Final Fantasy XIII) put together is amazing.
13. Soldier and Pyro
Team Fortress 2's Pyro displays his love of microtransactions. The Soldier disapproves.
Perennial favorite Altair returned to PAX (this was only one of several). Bonus points for working wrist blades. Double bonus points for having the good sense to use dull metal.
15. Storebought Gumby
Every PAX has a Gumby. We have no idea why. But every PAX has a Gumby. Maybe it's the same guy/gal.
16, Solid Snake
Props can turn good costumes into great costumes, and never was this exhibited more fully than by this Solid Snake (in his 1998 get-up, complete with crotch-straps) hiding under his infamous cardboard box.
17. Sith warrior and Twi'lek smuggler
It's debatable whether this is actually even game-related, but this was some incredible Star Wars cosplay. Although now that The Old Republic is out, we guess just about any Star Wars cosplay counts as gaming-related now.
18. Heavy and Engineer
The TF2 cosplay gets better every single year. But c'mon, guys. If you're going through the trouble to shave your head, you've gotta put the time in for a good Heavy minigun.
19. Dead Island walker
Zombies are always a popular theme, but we appreciate this guy going the extra mile to make it even more video game-related by inserting a nice Dead Island reference.
20. Gum and Beat
We always award bonus points for originality; Jet Set Radio cosplay is incredibly rare. These two even had spray paint cans and roller blades (though they weren't allowed to wear them inside).
We're not entirely sure what was going on with this GlaDOS-inspired Portal costume, but that didn't stop it from being awesome. And Borg-ish.
22. Ash and FemShep
We ran into not just a FemShep, but also an Ashley Williams on the show floor on Sunday. Of course we got a picture of both.
Another candidate for Best in Show was this Khajiit from the Elder Scrolls series. Please ignore the rampant accidental photo-bombing in this picture. This part of the show floor was insanely busy, and this was the best shot we could get.
24. Annie Hastur and Tibbers
Annie the child sorceress and her summoned teddy bear Tibbers make for an intimidating pair in League of Legends, and they weren't a whole lot less intimidating when we spotted them on the show floor.
Sometimes, all it takes are a few frilly underthings and an expertly crafted wig, and suddenly you've got one of the most eye-catching costumes at the show.
This mountain of a man (seriously, he was probably 6'6") made for an amazing Blackbeard from the anime One Piece. And the expression is just the right amount of menacing. (Thanks to user bigwill1221 for identifying this one for us.)