05 November, 2009


It's come upon me to do a review of my time in Borderlands. I decided early on that I would buy this game for the PC because, graphically, I think the PC version gives a better experience. FPS games of this nature also fare greater for me on a PC where I have the customisability that a keyboard provides. Hot-keying different things to different keys instead of having to navigate through the limited buttons on a controller. Now, first off, Gearbox has given us some great games like the many expanions to the first Half-Life, a lot of very nice work on Counter-strike, & helped with porting of the first Halo. They continue the tradition of very good games with Borderlands. Many names have been given to Borderlands like FPS-RPG, FPS MMO, RPG w/ FPS elements, but in my opinion, it's just an FPS. The fact that you can play in a team with others is no different than playing CoD multi-player or Halo multi-player. You add people to your team, go out & kill dudes. The fact that there is a story in there, or missions to accomplish, really doesn't affect it too much. Being a big fan of RPG's & FPS' both, I did jump at the very idea that an FPS could have RPG elements, much like Fallout 3 did, but coming into Borderlands thinking it would be like FO3 is something you should avoid. Right from the get go, things go a little down hill. For one, I'm aware that you don't really see your character too much, so customisation of their appearance shouldn't be too much of a big deal, but it is. Especially in a game where there are only four character types & four looks. It could come to pass that you & the three others in the team are playing one or two of the same type & seeing who is who can be a little disorientating. The only thing you can change on your character is their hair colour & their clothing colour. A little disheartening, yea? Besides that, graphically, the game is incredible looking. The cel-shading is so well done, I literally just spent 10 minutes staring at the scenery around me before I headed out into my first mission.
Speaking of missions, they are all pretty well done. The map gives you direct locations for whatever mission you have selected & off you go. Along the way you can find guns, ammo, shields, guns, medkits, & more guns. It seems that they really wanted you to use some guns! That's fine because I love to find a bigger, better, & more bad arse gun. The randomly generated weapons in this game are one of it's big features & at first I was all about it, but it turns out that after you've got 10 really fucking sweet guns, the novelty starts to ware thin. Okay, so I'm getting a load of new & awesome guns, that's great. Now that I have my sweet BFG it's time to do the missions... & there are no shortage of missions. Whether given to you by the bounty board or random NPC's, they are fun, I must admit, but it's just your general go here & kill these guys, then come back here. After I completed the first area it was getting repetitive & by the time I opened up fast travelling, it was just annoying. Not to mention the vehicles, while being easy to control, are really lame unless someone's on top running the guns as you drive around (although you can control some weaponry in the buggy). Which brings me to having someone there to run your guns for you. Multi-player is well done, I suppose. You need to make a Gamespy account so you can have a unique user-name in Pandora & therefore be able to be added & add to your friends-list, which makes up the people who will join you in the world. Up to four people are allowed to play at a time which means you & three other carefully chosen companions. Ideally, you will have one of each class, but that will never happen, from my experience, as everyone wants to be the Hunter or the Siren, with some people scattered around who prefer the other classes. It's just not... well I wouldn't say it's not fun, but it's really no different from single player!

Bringing others into your reality of Pandora increases the enemy difficulty & I guess increases the rewards, but in general I didn't see any reward increase, just retarded hard mobs suddenly springing up everywhere... the same mobs you have been fighting since hour one. They hardly change models, ever. Once you've seen a Psycho or whatever, they pretty much stay the same model. Excepting various land creatures & cavern creatures, of course. It just didn't really add anything special to the game to have others join me. It was fun the first few times, but afterwards, it was so much the same as doing single player, that I just resorted to doing single player only, & cutting out the planning we'd need to get everyone on at the same time to play.I think that, overall, I enjoyed most of the game, but mostly for the graphics & the occasional awesome gun that was a little more awesome than the other awesome gun you have. Wandering around Pandora in a cel-shaded way was well cool. It's probably the best cel-shaded game out there & I'm pretty sure I've played most of them, including all the tons of PS2 cel-shaded games which were offered. The controls are nice & easy to learn as well, but what was lacking? It's not an MMO, it's an FPS that others can join, like most other FPS with multi-player functionality. It's an RPG yes, to an extent in that it has missions, & a story, & other's can participate in that story. But it's still the same story everyone else gets. On hindsight I probably wouldn't have pre-ordered it, I would have waited a bit. I wish there had been a demo, but perhaps now I can see why there wasn't. Once you do the first area, everything is pretty much the same with little variations. Maybe it's a different experience on the 360 or PS3, I don't know, but from my personal experiences, I won't be finding out. I'll play it here & there, but for all the hype that went into promoting Borderlands, it didn't live up to it.

29 October, 2009

Dead Space

There are very few games any more which make me yelp in startled wonderment, let alone jump out of my chair. Dead Space managed both of these within the first 30 minutes of playtime. Sadly, it didn't last very long. As a survival horror third-person shooter video game, it did it's job okay, for most people. However, being desensitized from playing so many games & watching so many horror films, the novel terror wore thin after the first chapter. Coming into the game, I noticed right away how lovely it was. The graphics are quite nice & I was intrigued as my shuttle landed in the docking bay, yet there was my first annoyance. The movement in the game is like Mass Effect in 3rd person view... all the time. You can't switch to a first person view & your character is always slightly to the side of the screen. I understand this is because you need to see your health & stasis energy, but really, this could have been done with a HUD or something. All right I suppose we can let that one slide a little because you sort of get used to it... I guess. I had a little trouble adjusting to the way the camera looked when I was trying to spin around, but enough of that. So the graphics, as I said, were nice. They were great in fact, with one glaring flaw to wretch your eyes out. Because it's on a spaceship, Dead Space was very limited as to the scenery it could provide the player. It seemed that I was either in a steel grey hall with rust, a steel grey hall with rust & organic flesh everywhere, or a steel grey hall with slightly green organic rusty walls. & there were some pumpkins at one point, which I thought was very amusing, but I'm not sure why. So after the second chapter, when all the variations of organic ship structure had been offered to me, I started to find it boring to look at. Even the various graphical changes to my Rig & weapons didn't make it any better. Here was this game which presented itself so beautiful, torn into a slightly dark & dreary living vessel. These tiresome graphics added to the dulling down of my startles through out the game as well. After the first chapter ended I knew what to expect & so things didn't really startle me any-more. I jumped a few times, the whispering was a bit creepy, but after a very short period of unrest, I began to expect the enhanced whispering in the loo's & I knew that pressing a button near my objective would cause the blast doors to come down & dudes would come out of the walls to attack me. After the first chapter, the only part which did put the living fear of god into me was at the very end of the game, right before the credits roll. I won't say what it is though ;) The combat is pretty engaging, though the weapons are a little lack lustre. As soon as I got the Ripper, that's all I used until I got the Force Gun & then it was easy street. It was really at the Ripper once you realise that anything & everything will die from either being shot in the head with the saw-blade or hacked to pieces with the chainsaw like function. I didn't even use the other guns until the very last boss when I was forced to use the Pulse Rifle for two kills, then back to the Force Gun. I suppose if I had upgraded the other, inferior, weapons all the way & not touched my two overpowered BFG's, then maybe they would have been some use to me. That brings me to the upgrading system. It's... well I don't want to say broken as you're not really supposed to be upgrading everything to the
max on your first play-through. It got to where I was literally tripping over ammo for my two monster guns so I ended up selling everything else. I never once used an air container (& didn't even upgrade my Rig's air capacity until chapter 10/12 I think) so I sold all those, & I didn't use med kits until I was being thrown Medium kits, so I ended up selling all my small ones & just keeping one or two on me. Then it got to where I would sell the Mediums as I was finding Large ones everywhere. The whole point of this is that to upgrade your Rig, Stasis, Knesis, & various weapons, you need power nodes which are found or bought at the Store for 10k each. I upgraded completely my two guns, my rig, stasis, & knesis. I could have easily upgraded to the max a few more weapons, but I just didn't see the point. I was also being weighed down by my own credits at this point & at the end of the game I got yet another 50k & 10 more power nodes for my next play-through.

Also, I would like to briefly comment on something I absolutely hate in games like this. Mini-games. Shit like sit in this chair & shoot fucking asteroids with this unwieldy mining gun. This was the worst of the worst here. It took me 11 tries to complete this mini-game, unskippable of course, not because it was hard so much as the gun was almost impossible to control. I'd move it a little to the side & it'd fly to the other side of the screen. We just need to do away from these things. They are not fun! I would also like to say that I hate vehicle sections in games too, especially FPS' because I'm playing it to shoot some dudes, not ride around in a god-damn Jeep because the game wants me to get
from point A to point B in record time. I'll walk it! Anyroad, last, but not least, the music in the game left something to be desired. It sounded like someone was trying to scratch old symphony records. I shit you not. The surrealistic classical music that always seemed to be playing was only further driven into by a screwdriver when something was going to happen when it changed from symphonies written by a five year old to people franticlly hitting their string instruments against a wall. & all this happens about 20 seconds before you even run into something. Talk about taking the surprise out of something. Now I'm a fan of a lot of classical music, as well as other music, but this was just... chewing on tinfoil. Despite all these flaws, I do think it was a pretty okay game. I managed 29/48 achievements on my first run through of the game, & I didn't even try for them. I did enjoy the game for the most part. There's very little more fun than dismembering a lot of mutants (especially mutant deformed babies) with a saw-blade. However, I don't feel the urge to play it again. Even if I keep my upgrades, it doesn't make the game more interesting. The characters were dull & I didn't give a shite about them, & the voice acting was pretty emotionless. Lines spoken rather than lines delivered. I might buy the game somewhere down the line if I see it for really cheap, but I just don't want to play it again. I beat it once, it wasn't hard, I don't have a desire to do it again.