Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday Musings - 12th March, 2012

It's gonna be a short one this week folks, but i wouldn't dare deprive you of your musings. Let us muse onward!

Borderlands (PC)

I completed my second playthrough on Sunday. Now one can argue the game has pacing problems but usually there's enough variety, cool boss monsters or treasure chests to keep you going along. That last section of the game before the final boss however? Yeesh! Not only are those vault defenders damn annoying to kill, but you end up exhausting a lot of your ammo before the final encounter (with no top up areas). Still, i had a shotgun that did 700 base damage with replenishing ammo, so when i ran out of ammo on my favourite weapons (mainly my awesome fire SMG), i switched to that and the vault guardian went down pretty quick. Until the vault defenders came out however, the game turned into quite a joke... in a good way though. That fire SMG i mentioned, it just tore through anything living and burned it to a crisp. Enemies with extensive shielding? Well i had an electric firing revolver for that, but mostly the fire SMG was enough to take care of that too.

It reminds me of the last chapter of Half-Life 2 when you get the god gun. Now i've talked about that section on this blog before, and i've had many arguments with friends who hate that section, as i happen to love it, but end game with a Siren felt like the same power. Most of the game was fairly easy, but there were some tough spots, especially when weapons with good elemental damage were scarce. Once i got a hold of this weapon however, everything died. The Rakk hive died in an instant. The Lance soldiers in Old Haven were a joke. The Salt flats and the Lance headquarters? Forget about it! It was oddly satisfying to revel in so much effortless carnage. The only downside was that the screams of the Lance soldiers as they were burning to death started to get to me. I guess i don't have what it takes to be a homicidal psychopath after all.

Now i mentioned pacing problems and this has led to some internal conflict. Take last year when i played Vanquish (or any other game on Monday Musings i started and dropped a week or two later). I stopped playing that game specifically because by act three, i felt the game had played its hand fully and there was nothing else to show me gameplay wise. So why have i completed Borderlands twice now? That game kind of plays its hand really early on. In fact after the Dahl Headlands when you reach New Haven, it's all on repeat.

I think it may have to do with two things. Firstly are the RPG levelling mechanics. Getting more powerful each level, and getting to add a point into a new skill, or to beef up an old skill can keep a player going. I mean that's half the balance of most successful RPGs. Half of it is the story (and perhaps more importantly the world the story inhabits), and half of it is feeling more powerful each time you cross one of these levelling milestones. Borderlands' story has a couple interesting hooks, my personal favourite being the madness of Patricia Tannis through her audio journals, but i don't think its really enough to sustain players, at least not compared to the levelling system.

The other part of the equation is the loot. I mean Borderlands did kinda sell itself as a run and gun version of Diablo, and that's not really being hyperbolic either. I played Diablo 2 for years, and when i think about it, the questions i have about my dedication to Borderlands echo my time with Diablo 2. It's the talent tree and becoming more powerful (and Diablo 2's tree was much more complex than Borderlands' is), but it's the loot. It's one hook of the MMO, constantly giving the player better gear to keep them moving forward, especially if you uncover a rare drop and can rain destruction down upon your enemies (like my precious fire SMG to bring the whole thing full circle). Borderlands went pretty crazy with its loot mechanics adding a lot of variation and randomization to what kind of weapons you uncover (plus the ability to play harder versions of the game to get even better loot).

Huh, it is actually that simple. Why am i dedicating so much time to Borderlands? Because it fills that spot that was left when i finally got bored with Diablo 2. With Diablo 3 and Borderlands 2 both hitting this year (i still am a little sceptical on D3), it'll be interesting to see which one holds my attention.

So... now it's time for Borderlands DLC!

Final Thoughts

Last week i went on a bit of a tirade about having to wait to play Journey. I got some facts wrong and it seems that everyone is getting the game on the 13th of March (except for those people on Playstation Plus who can play the game right now... bastards). I apologize for my error. I was blinded by wanting to play this game, and Tuesday, it shall be mine. I have the day off work and i will download it and play it all in one sitting. Haha!

I should probably pull back as the last time i hyped myself up for a game release (Skyward Sword), i found myself let down. It's hard to stay calm and collective sometimes. Call it gamer's passion.

Anyways, till next week, happy gaming all!

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