Archive for February, 2013

The post will be a review of one of the few games that I have cleared recently, Borderlands 2. I managed to clear the final boss about a week ago, and thought that this is a game well worth reviewing for random people on the internet.

The only reason I played Borderlands 2 was because over the holidays a friend of mine bought it for me and a bunch of my friends with the idea of multiplayer gun-slinging, havoc reeking fun, and to start with, he was right. The first two hours that I played the game I was at my friend’s house playing together with my other friends. Each of us chose one of the four unique classes, I chose the assassin Zero, and then we dropped into the world. At first, the character builds weren’t very different, partly because of level, but mostly because of weapons at that moment. Until we made it to the next location, all of us were using pistols and melee attacks to get through waves of Bullymogs that blocked our path. After frustrating my friends with running ahead and killing things and stealing all of the loot, I left to go spend time with my girlfriend.

borderlands-2-zero-wallpaper

That was the only time that I played multiplayer, but for the most part, it was kind of fun. The night would have been more fun if I had gotten a sniper rifle at that point and taken advantage of my character’s unique abilities. I ran the rest of the game by myself, taking on a multitude of side quests to fill up my pockets and give me better loot to use to kill bigger things. The game is fairly fast pace, you walk into a new area and get swarmed by all of the monsters, thieves, and general baddies, but that doesn’t deter you because you start exploiting your class perks. I got into the habit of using my sniper rifles to start off a fight when I entered a new area, keeping my distance and picking off all of the new startled enemies. Then, when the stranglers finally ran up to me, I whipped out my shotgun and blew them away. This fighting tactic worked alright to start with, but after I got a few more weapon slots, it changed to accommodate the new arsenal that I was toting around with me.

It wasn’t until fairly late in the game that I actually “died”, at which point I discovered the Fight for Your Life system they implement in the game. If you get your health depleted, you are wounded and can’t zoom your weapons, and you have a limited amount of time to kill another enemy. If you manage to kill one, then you get your shield back and some portion of your health back, thus giving you another go at the current situation. This is where my new set of weapons came in, whenever I went into Fight for Your Life mode, I pulled out my rocket launcher and killed the closest thing. Once I recovered, I would reload my rocket launcher so I could be prepared for the next time that happened to me. I was caught refilling it too often when I actually died because I hadn’t reloaded it from before. Then I started my special ability where I would create a clone that would draw enemies in while I got huge buffs to my melee attacks and critical hits. This came in handy when trying to do massive damage to a boss, or escaping a hairy situation I had gotten myself into.

Overall, the combat system, diverse weapons, upgrades, and skill trees make combat a really great experience to experiment with. Later on in the game though, you will start to find it much more difficult to find a better weapon than the one you are using, I kept the same sniper rifle for a good five hours of game play, until I found one that had a massive power boost. Same with my shotgun, and I used the same pistol for most of the game. Money also became pointless along the way because you are just showered in money (literally) all of the time, which made actually dying later on kind of a mild annoyance than something to really avoid.

The atmosphere of the game world is remarkable because each area is different from the last, making you feel like you are in a wasteland, city, or decimated local. The only thing that could have made it slightly better was if the enemies changed more than they did. Yes I would fight giant bug things in a sewer area, and bandits in an outpost, but any time you found the same type of enemy in two different locations, they didn’t show any difference. This is mainly for the bandit designs because they were the same in the frozen waste land as they were in the desert. A bit more variation would have been great.

The game’s antagonist, Handsome Jack, is the pure embodiment of evil asshole that has to die. Later on in the game they add to his background and try to show you his motives and driving force behind him being a bastard, but in the end, you have no sympathy for the man. He is a great character because you never really have any moral grey moments when dealing with him, even after they add in his backstory.

The rest of the supporting character for the game really fill in the universe because everyone is different from the last important person you had to deal with. Each of the supporting characters will also give you unique quests for you to fill in your play time with. Some of the time you’ll have to kill so many of a certain monster, or run around trying to deliver mail in a bad part of town, but for the most part, you’ll get something new quest from quest. I went from checking up on my worst enemy’s grandmother, to trying to help a robot become human.

I highly recommend this game to anyone who likes dark/absurd humor, growth of characters, guns, and general merriment. Grab a buddy and take on Handsome Jack, and put him out of his misery!

borderlands2

Whatever the risk, still onward.

-The Architect

Advertisements

This time I think I’ll discuss another issue that is close to home for me which is the upcoming generation of videogame consoles and all of the rumors and what not going on with them. Now I wanted to discuss the current issues with the videogame world because it’s an important part of my life, it’s how I blow off steam, relax in the evening, and generally just calm down sometimes. I also use them as an escape from the real world from time to time, because it is just nice to take the role of the dark knight and crusade through the dark streets of Gotham every once in a while. However, recent developments and rumors have made me worried for this wonderful time suck, most of which coming with the new generation of consoles.

I’m first going to address the concern about certain companies that have gone bankrupt in the recent months, mostly the THQ liquidation. These are the people who created Darksiders, Saints Row, Red Faction, Homefront and many other games. The company sold off most of their divisions and kept only one for themselves, but for the most part, we can say goodbye to this company and what they strived for in games. Now this is a concern because we are always hearing now that companies are not doing very well and are starting to go under. This isn’t helped with the media and government scrutinizing every aspect of the games that they produce. We have people saying that videogames are awful things that consume lives, devour their souls, and turn them into murdering members of our society. Others say that games are a First Amendment right that should be protected because they are a freedom of expression and storytelling that has developed in the new generations.

My weigh-in on the issue of looking into games and banning or any other restrictions is that we already have a rating system for the games that tells you the age range, why, and when you purchase mature games you have to show an ID showing you are of age or have a parent or guardian there to purchase it for you. At that point, it comes to the parents taking time to go and look up what the games their children are playing are about, all of the information is only ever a few clicks away on the internet. I feel that a lot of the issues that the government or other concerned people comes down to are actually on a more family based level of inspection. Parents should ask their kids what they play, and research it. Parents who buy their kids games and don’t even think about what it’s about should first look at what they are doing first. My parents knew the games that I played and actually controlled what I played for the early years of my gaming youth, but after a while, once they knew I was mature enough, they let me take the reins of it and police myself. Videogames are what you make of them, if you always spend 16 hours a day playing a game, then that’s not good, but if you play for a couple hours a day or every once in a while then you have a better control of the actual potential problem. It’s like alcohol, you could drink every day and never feel your toes again, or just have a drink when you go out with friends.

Now we start moving into the current console issues that are cropping up because of the recent set of rumors coming out over the next PlayStation and XBOX systems. My largest concern is the rumor about the idea of blocking used games with one time activation codes or tying them to the initial system that you play them on. This is a concern because I like to share games with friends or bring games over to their houses and play multiplayer with everyone. This would limit that ability and actually participating in the festivities. The also hurts the resale market which is another part of the industry that developers have had to deal with other the course of the videogame existence. Resale stores are always going to be around, that is just a fact, look at clothes, watches, computers, music, art, movies. Now the resale industry already screws all of us over, but having system tied games hurts the resale stores as well. When I want a game that might not be very available or what, I go to a resale store and see if they have it, and they’ll probably have it for the cheap. Then, when I sell my games back to the resale store and get a dollar back for it all, I feel violated by the sheer cheek these people have to offer so little for so much. Developers have tried to get people to buy new games by adding first time activation codes, DLCs, and special bonus features for buying the initial product from them. The problem with these is that there isn’t enough bang that goes with them, getting a new skin for my character isn’t really worth paying full price for the game, nor is a multiplayer map. Give me something bigger, more dramatic, and more significant; give me something that makes me think, “I want that!” Also, stop releasing DLCs the day after the game comes out. That’s ridiculous. Include the DLCs in the game; don’t make me pay an extra five bucks to get the Trials of Dunwall pack.

The next point is the actual games themselves and the fact that they aren’t as juicy as previous generations. I know games have changed over the years, but when Cruising World is ten hours longer than the latest Devil May Cry game, we have a problem. Yes, it’s racing versus a hack and slash, but come on, I cleared DmC in three hours and at least S ranked each mission while I was drunk. Cruising World took many hours of fine tuning, practice, and throwing the controller on the damn moon level. Now here is the problem with this: I felt that Cruising World earned every penny and then some of my money that I spent on it years ago, while DmC was $60 and barely entertained me for an evening. Sure, DmC looked better than Cruising World, but it wasn’t as much fun and this is the flaw with the gaming world at the moment. Shut up about graphics, I don’t need to see the sweat coming off the biceps of a character three miles away, what I want is a game that I can immerse myself in and enjoy for many hours. And I know people say, “Well that’s what replay is for!” Yes, it can be, but everything shouldn’t be built on the hope that you will go through the same game three or four times, it should have a story and game play that stands strong with one play through. Also, games now don’t have much replay value, only if you care about leaderboards, but otherwise you are just playing the same game, same everything, again, with no endearing qualities to make you want to do that. So I get screwed with the initial cost, hence one reason I don’t tend to buy games new, then I get screwed with the actual amount of content, thus screwing me by the development teams, and then if I sell it to a resale store I get screwed over by how much I get back, finally screwing me over by the resale stores giving me a quarter of the price of a game that came out yesterday.

Overall, the whole community of gamers, developers, story tellers, politicians, and everyone else, needs to get together and fix things slightly so that we all get what we want. Gamers need to be more forgiving of certain things that developers do, but steadfast in the fact that we do not take multiple mistakes well. Developers need to listen to the gamers about what they want, but should try new things and shouldn’t be destroyed for trying something new and it not going well. Story tellers need to get back into the business and stop bogging us down with volumes of back stories of the plains of no one cares, story should be seamlessly woven into the game. Politicians need to stop scape goating videogames for other people’s problems, but instead invest time in helping people understand the good and the bad of the industry. We all want to be happy and are reasonable people for the most part, let’s all come together and make the community great again.

Whatever the risk, still onward.

-The Architect