Posts Tagged ‘review

22
Oct
10

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

The change:

This game does not follow the kanon of the previous ones. This is a whole new legend.
We need to remember that this game is not developed by the ordinary Castlevania team. Mercurysteam from Spain is behind this one, under guidance by Hideo Kojima. If you played the old Castlevania games and expected to experience Symphony of the Night, or Super Castlevania in 3D, you’ll be disappointed. But make no mistake, this is a great game, but you will just not get that “Vampire Killer-feeling” as you used to.

The prints of Kojimas mind are many in LoS, although much more subtle than in the MGS-series. This time, the plot presented to us through previews and trailers are not to kill Dracula. This time we’re gonna save our fair lady, much as in Dantes Inferno and Shadow of the Colossus. This tells us that this game is different from the other ones. But don’t worry.
Dracula has an appearence in this game to.
Kojima is a genius and he seldom fails when involved in a game. The minutes that follows after the end credits will make you understand and when you’re done shitting bricks, let’s all wait for his next nocturnal project in childish anticipation.

Gameplay:

This game is addictively fun.
Not only is the gameplay wonderful (clever mapping of the controls, dynamic use of magics, sub-weapons and the whip) but the replay value is great as well. You’ll have a lot of techniques to learn and by revisiting levels and chapters, you’ll gain the XP required in no time – and have lots of fun doing so. There are three kinds of crystals representing life, light magic and shadow magic that you need to collect. While on the world map, you can easily check which levels you’ve missed crystals or weapon upgrades on and since you’ll need specific abilities to reach to the places where these items might be, the stat screen on the map comes in handy for these revisits.
Another thing that I find awesome in this game is the boss fights. They demand more than just button mashing and when you’re playing it on the second hardest difficulty, that is not a suggestion. It’s a must if you want to succeed. The diversity of actions gives you a splendid control of the situation in an user friendly way.
So if Gabriel dies, it is not the game who fails – it is you.

The story:

I did not find the story very compelling. Or entertaining.
It didn’t made you feel like “Holy shit! What will happen next?!” or anything like that. It’s an okay story, but WAY too thin and in lack of substance. A classic move in previous Castlevania games is to refer to other games in the franchise, but this time, I felt that was lacking. Sure, some characters and  locations was sharing names with previous equivalents from the predecessors, but it was not enough. The game was TOO new for an old fan of the franchise like me. Much like FF13, but this time I didn’t want to flay the characters and push them down a slope in a barrel full of salt.

The music:

The soundtrack is awful. Come back, Kinuyo Yamashita! We DO love you!
The Castlevania series has been known to have a really strong soundtrack. When we first heard ‘Vampire Killer’ on the first stage, smashing torches and collecting whip powerups in 1986, we knew that the music was awesome. We still know that it is. In the coming games, new songs appeared, but there were almost always a few old classic from an earlier game turning up somewhere. In Symphony of the Night, we fell in love with a whole bunch of new songs that today is considered Castlevania classics. With this in mind, there were still a couple of old songs reappearing – remixed or remastered.

There is only ONE song present in this game that is familiar to us. Listen carefully to it, because that will be the only time you hear anything from the past in this game.
This soundtrack is just your ordinary, mundane philharmonic score with no personality. It’s good music, but it’s NOT Castlevania material and if that was what they aimed for, they failed epically.

The voice acting:

As you probably already know, Robert Carlyle and Patrik Stewart are the voice actors of the two main characters and you can tell that there is a huge difference between acting in front of a camera and giving voices to animations. They succeeded in displaying emotions aurally, but they do it as you would in front of a camera. This is an epic adventure in a videogame and that demands some over-dramatic acting if it should be convincing. It was good, but not good enough.

The trophies:

“Collect them all” and “play the game”.  Oh yeah – there’s one for each difficulty too.
Surprised? Didn’t think so.

In short terms:

Just like Final Fantasy XIII, this is a game for new players. Sure, FFXIII was utter crap, convincing us of the enormous ego that Square Enix has gained after years of success and what shitstained damage that can leave us with.
This, however, is not that bad. There are new developers and a TOTALLY different mind supervising the whole thing.
But this is not a Castlevania game.
Yes, it has the same title and yes, the main character is named Belmont, but NO – this is not what some of us grew up with. With that put aside, the game is still great and I recommend you to play it, especially if you’re not familiar with the old series.

PS. By demand from my dear co-writer, I’ll recommend you to check out the Castlevania Wiki in case you’re not aware of the earlier games.

 

Why Dracula should fondle Big Boss…

The end is the beginning? – Beat the game and find out 

Solid Belmont – The spirit of Kojima is everywhere and I like it

Violence is fun! – Some bosses are just awesome to confront

Jooyyy….stick. – Tactical gameplay FTW

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17
Oct
10

Final Fantasy 13

Final Fantasy. Two words that tend to jolt many a gamer into veritable fits of Déjà vu and verbal battles over which of the games that was the best or the worst. It has been almost impossible to if not to have played one of the games in the series but then at least having heard of them. For those few of you that might not have though, know that Final Fantasy is a series of RPG games by Hironobu Sakaguchi and published by Square Enix. The games are loosely tied together by the concept of magic, a world in danger and a group of people battling The Great Evil while brooding over their own personal issues. The game series have unarguably been a critical success with over 97 million sold games over the years.

Final Fantasy 13 Characters

Yeah, 97 millions – and Final Fantasy XIII is the fastest selling of them all so far.

It is with that information in the mental backpack and being a great lover of most of the games in the series that I am going to stick my head out and start off this review by saying that Final Fantasy 13 is an appallingly poor title. There, I said it! With that in mind, let’s take a few steps back and look at what Final Fantasy 13 is:

Just as its predecessors Final Fantasy XIII is a role-playing game. This one takes place in the world of Pulse and you start out on Cocoon, a hollowed out artificial moon where you fight the Sanctum,  a government ruled by the fal’Cie, which are mechanical god-like beings. The fal’Cie are responsible for sustaining pretty much everything on Coccon; keeping the water flowing, the moon floating, light, power – you name it.

This would be all and well if not the fal’Cie were having a thing for picking out and branding some humans with a growing, tattoo-like brand and giving them a Focus to complete lest they be transformed into a mindless beast called Cie’th if they do not complete this within a certain time. These chosen ones, called the l’Cie are never told straight out what their focus really is, but must instead interpret visions they are given. If they figure out their focus and complete it, they turn into crystal and supposedly gain eternal life.

I'cie brand on Snow

I'cie brand on Snow

If all this is starting to sound like the host of a Japanese game show is standing behind the curtains and laughing while everyone jump through the hoops, don’t worry – I’m with you.

The game plays out as you run around with up to three team members at a time. Sometimes you are forced to play as a specific character with a limited choice of your team members or even alone. There are some interesting new things added to the battle system over previous games:  Here you only control one of your characters at a time, the others go on auto-pilot but you can switch to them to make them perform specific actions.

Essentially the battles play out with you increasing the enemies’ stagger meters which once filled up, makes the enemies behave differently and become especially vulnerable to attacks. Also new is the Paradigm function where every character can instantly switch to another class of fighter, Either a Saboteur, a Medic, Commando, Synergist, Sentinel or a Ravager; all these have their own purpose and skill tree to expand upon to further their abilities.

The battle system is based around something called the ATB – Active Time Battle, and is a real-time based system where your ATB meter charges up over time. Spending bars of this meter allows you to perform different attacks. The fights are visually pleasing and fluid as you switch between both characters and paradigms. Gone however, are the days of the intensive pleasing music of past games and instead we have have some generic techno beating in the background.


The Eidolons, the great summon beasts featured in almost all Final Fantasy games are still present here, and are warped versions of ones featured before. They can now transform, Shiva for instance are now two sisters that turn into a motorcycle. Yeah let us just let that one sink in for a bit. Shiva, The Great Goddess of vroom-vroom!

These Eidolons are first summoned into battle and use different magical abilities. Each of them have a summon point meter that depletes over time and when you take damage. Once these are spent or your Eidolon is beaten they vanish. You can also put your Eidolon into Gestalt mode, transforming them and letting you perform various special attacks, often damaging every enemy on screen.

As you progress and gain experience you can fill up the Crystarium which is your skill-tree, and when you reach certain points in it, you gain higher stats or new abilities. The Crystarium is an elaborate design of crystal discs which you have to not only fill up but spend points on reaching.

The Crystarium

The Crystarium

Progressing through the world does not have the random pop-up encounters featured in most of the earlier titles, which I do think is a great change. Enemies are clearly seen and battle starts once you attack or are attacked, you can even sneak up on them and automatically get the initiative if they have their back turned on you.

Enemies drop items and sometimes weapons that you can use, and depending on how well you did in the battle you can get better and/or more items.
If one thing is to be said to be unquestionably positive about the game then it is that the graphics in the game is nothing short of stunning, the characters are beautiful in detail, hairs flow in the wind and attacks are beautifully animated, the textures are well detailed and battles although busy have no slow-downs of any kind.

If you have read this far and think this might be a must-get game I implore you to read on, for I cannot go on further without unleashing The Beast of Unpleased Gamer. This is where we must re-visit the different aspects of the game and I pick them all apart:

The battle system:

The battles are beautiful, but you soon realise that you will spend most of the 50 first hours of the game just pumping the X button to select the auto battle option which fills up your ATB meter with what attacks the computer sees fitting. Once you have identified mobs his function will function even better, choosing attacks that will be most effective against their respective vulnerabilities. In earlier games you had to figure out for yourself what their vulnerabilities were, when to attack, when to block, protect, recuperate, buff yourself or debuff the enemies. You have pretty much nothing of that here and I claim that you can spend the first fifty hours of the game mashing the X button through every fight while you read a book. Note to Square Enix: STUPID AND EASY IS NOT THE SAME THING AS FUN – OKAY? I’m sorry for letting out the caps-lock dragon, it had to be done!

Looting:

I love looting, gleeing over new weapons, armor and shields and being able to craft new items out of others. This system though is deplorable. You actually spend some items to upgrade your weapons which quickly leave you with your first weapon being the best. As you get new weapons you realise that yes they COULD be better, but it would take hours of grinding to even get it up to par with your current one and so it all falls apart until the post end-game where you actually have to grind grind grind and read stats carefully to get what you need to beat certain monsters. Did I mention the grind? If I were to channel the Angry Video Game Nerd I’d call this game Final Grind 13.

The Music:

The music for the game was written by Masashi Hamazu, known for his work on Final Fantasy X, Saga Frontier 2 and several other games; and I have to say that although his piano works for FF X was decent, the music in this game leaves me less than impressed. While I still to this day enjoy and even go around humming the scores Nobuo Uematsu wrote for Final Fantasy 7, I honestly can not as I write this; even remember any of the scores from 13. Why? Simply because they’re mostly very plain generic techno and doesn’t do much at all for the world, game, mood or settings. The music would probably have done well for a slow-paced shoot’em-up, but here is just deplorable. Final Fantasy has set the level high for its scores and this time Masashi doesn’t even come close.

The Graphic:

As beautiful as it is, I still wonder why Hope literally pulls out a boomerang out his butt when a battle starts, and most of the worlds although very beautiful look dead, simply because there are no people around. Square Enix decided to do away with the non-player characters and what people you see in crowds fade around you as ghosts when you pass them by. There’s no people to stop and talk to anymore and I think this was a horribly poor decision. Although beautiful many of the environments end up looking very repetitive, especially the indoors hallways which is quite frustrating when you spend so many hours grinding down them. Cut-scenes are vivid and rendered in 1080p but hey, really – resolution isn’t everything.

Vanille and Hope

Vanille and Hope

The Upgrade System:

As much as I love upgrading, I prefer to have some degree of freedom over them. You only have a few Crystarium discs available to you until you reach certain keypoints and trust me, by the time you reach a key point you will have completed any disc you already had available and there is hardly even the illusion of choice here which makes it awfully dull. The Crystarium is beautiful and easy to use I will give it that – but that is also all there is to it.

The Story:

With the fal’Cie, the l’Cie and Cie’th being thrown your way early on in a confusing jumble, my initial reaction was that the game should have been named F’inal F’antasy 13. The names of things and characters feel strained and forced most of the time. Although the story isn’t all bad it feels as if someone forgot to give it that final polish that made things feel more knitted together and giving it that flow, this however might really be the fault of what I am to bring up next:

The Characters:

Oh yes, the characters. Let me start off by saying, that if there was a PSN game dedicated to spending endless hours of using a Playstation Move controller to beat the shit out of them all, I would pick it up in an instant. It is not as much that they’re crying and doubting themselves every step of the way or even that they are so unsympathetic and plain, as it is that that they never once veer off from their stereotypes. The one exception being Vanille who behaves so irate you just want to punch her in the face every time she says something. How about patting a guy who just lost his mother on the shoulder, saying ”that must be tough on you” smiling as if on drugs and only being semi-aware of her surroundings; only to turn her back, start humming happily to herself and bounce away? WHO DOES THAT? At the end I had no sympathy left for any of the characters and couldn’t have cared less if they had all died a slow and painful death. The voice acting is not too bad, but Vanille and Thunder vary great in quality as the actors seem to flip between British and Australian accents.

The World:

Final Fantasy 13 really does a good job of showing you a beautiful big and wild world. Especially when you leave Cocoon and enter the wilds of Pulse, where the game finally opens up a bit. Do note though, there are no side stories, no major hidden bonuses to be found through the game until that point. As a matter of fact you will spend the first 50+ hours on-rail. At most you spot a short side-track leading to a chest containing some generic item that brings no joy. The monsters and especially the clothing in this game demand a mention though. The clothes especially are nothing but stunning, varying yet keeping a theme without anything feeling forced. Whomever made these should start their own brand of clothing.

The Trophies:

The trophies for the game are mostly generic ones. Finish different chapters of the story, fully expanding your Crystarium skill trees, but some of them require a fair amount of grinding to be done. Nothing creative or really awful to be found here.

Summary:

As much as I have raged on this game, I did play through the whole main story, complaining all the way. As it stands now I am very disappointed and will not pick up Final Fantasy 13 vs per automatic, I’m more than a little sceptic and disheartened. Where Blizzard has always gone the road of Do Not Fix What Is Not Broken, Square Enix has made a point of changing something that worked in pretty much every iteration of the games, not always for the better. VG Cats summed it up really well.

If you haven’t played a Final Fantasy game before and want some very easy entertainment without any depth, this might still be a game for you. Although the game has a much higher polish than say Enchanted Arms, at the end of the day it still has that fragrance of Eau De Fail.

This is Maximilian and the caps-lock dragon, raging signing off.

Why Final Fantasy is one straw short of a slurpee:

Cry me a River – Drag the crying and crying characters through the story.
Big Bag of Nothing – So many drops, so little fun.
Barbie wants her brain back – One word: Vanille
Bring on the OCD! You want your platinum? Go ahead – grind my day!

09
Oct
10

Space Invaders: Infinity Gene

God damn it.
It’s been a busy week. There’s a lot of planning going in for me right now, as you might have noticed, the weekly post got delayed again.

I’m still waiting for Vanquish to show up and our keyboardist to finish Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, so in the time being, I’ll give you a review of a classic upgraded to fit 2010.

Space Invaders was created by Tomohiro Nishikado in 1978 and was produced and distributed by Taito.

It is as simple as it is addictive and in a time were Star Wars, The War of the Worlds and similar sci-fi adventures were popular, defending bases against aliens in a videogame was pretty awesome.
Space Invaders: Infinity Gene is the newest installation of the game, first released for the iOS in 2009 and was recently released for XBLA and PSN this year.

This neo-retro version introduces an ‘evolution system’, which grants the player new moves and different fire power to choose from before starting their game, to name a few. When you play, you gain points and when these points reach up to a certain amount  (shown as a blue bar in the stat screen between the levels) your ship will evolve. After a while, the evolution will also add bonus levels, music that you can listen to from the bonus menu, et cetera.

…and since I mentioned it – the music:
It is not very surprising that the soundtrack is made up of minimalistic techno, bearing much resemblance to the soundtrack for Pixeljunk: Eden.
However, if you’re into this kind of music (which I am) you will enjoy it for more than just some aural ambience for the game.

The trophies are, as ecpected, pretty weak. It is a PSN game after all.
Some of them got that retro feeling to them, as the  one requiring you to get a high score of 10.000.000 points.
Apart from that, there are some other “gain-a- certain-amount-of”-trophies mixed in, not to mention the “beat-the-game” trophies. You got one trophy for each difficulty and there are five of them. FIIIVE! (Said in a dark, sinister voice, trying to sound like the narrative at the title screen of Resident Evil 5.)

To sum it up, this is a fun game, but I doubt it will live for long. You’ll probably spend a few hours playing it (I’ve done aprox 8 so far) but there are other shooters that I’d drastically prefer, as Gradius…FIIIVE! for the Playstation 2.
By the way, when will they release an equally good Gradius on the PS3…?

Why all the base are belong to us…

“Back in my days…” – Neo-retro is the new black.

Uhn-tiss, baby – Great music. I want the soundtrack.

What’s a checkpoint? – It’s challenging and not crap-easy.

Darwin were on to something – The evolution system is addictive.

26
Sep
10

heavy rain

First of all, I want to apologize for the delay of reviews.
There has been some technical issues that has put a stop to our productivity, but that will change.
Sorry about that.
We’ll be up and running with weekly posts on fridays from now on.

Videogames used to be an arcade thrill in pixels back in the days.
You needed to think fast and learn how the stages/laps proceeded. It was all about skills and wits and not as much variation. Today, gaming has reached a whole new level and with games such as Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, they became a lot more an experience than actual hardcore button-mashing.
Heavy Rain is at the peak of this progression and is in an easy (although not very justifying) way described as a movie which gives you, as the player, options to alter the story with quick time events (QTE’s).

The story takes place in 2011 and a serial killer, known as the Origami Killer, is on the loose.
The killer kidnaps young boys between 9-13 yrs of age. Since the cops have not yet managed to catch the killer or rescue any child, they all end up dead by drowning, with an orchid and an origami animal by his side, the signum of the killer.
Ethan Mars is an architect and a father of two sons. When one of his sons dies in a tragic accident, he loses himself and becomes depressed and isolated.
Madison Paige is a journalist that suffers from insomnia and involuntarily gets dragged in into the investigation of the mysterious killer.
Norman Jayden is an FBI agent that uses ARI technology (Added Reality Interface – a pair of glasses and a glove that can trace otherwise invisible leads on crime scenes) in his investigations, but to a high price.
Scott Shelby is a retired cop that has become a Private Investigator that now hunts the Origami Killer.
Lauren Winters is a former prostitute that has lost her son to the killer and decides to find the murderer.
These five persons fates will intertwine and the plot will take many turns before it unravels itself.

If you usually plays shoot’em up and action/adventure games, this one might seem a bit dull. To be honest, I found it a bit slow for my own taste, but it does not stop me from calling it a masterpiece. And by masterpiece, I refer to the atmosphere and the dramaturgy. This game truly is remarkable as it delivers a plot worthy of any well-produced crime/triller movie and the characters are not made up, in a physical way of speaking. The faces you see can easily be found if you search the internet for the actors behind the characters. Solid Snake (Metal Gear Solid) is made up. So is John Marston (Red Dead Redemption), Sam Fischer (Splinter Cell) and Cole McGrath (InFamous).
These characters are “real”. And they certainly feel real in the game. No Final Fantasy bullshit, where everyone has to be homogenically supersexy and beautiful. No, these are REAL people and that is what gives the game credibility and it’s own, more authentic sense of beauty.

The score is good, but WAY too overdramatic for my taste. At one time, you have to take Ethan through a crowd of people at a train station and since he suffers from agoraphobia (fear of being in open spaces, in a crowd, to sum it up) this is a crucial moment. And the music gets REALLY dramatic at this point. Not anything creeping, like there’s a tension. It’s more like “For fuck’s sake, destroy the ring, Frodo!”.

The trophies are excellent, as far as I know. I’ve beaten the game once (which gives me at least ten more times to do it) and of all the trophies, there are only four(?) of them that are not secret ones. When you’re having an option in the game (save him/her, do NOT save him/her) you might get a trophy, depending on your actions and decisions. This gives the game a replay value, not only for the sake of the trophies, but for you to find out what would happen in you’d done things differently. And trust me – the “what if…”-factor is big in this game.

The only thing I can complain about is the voice acting. I don’t find it as convincing as it could have been. It’s good, but not good enough. The lip-sync is great and the credability on that point is great, but I just wish the sorrow, anxiety and anger could have had a better portrayal. A big plus for the fact that the voice actors are the same people that gave faces to the characters. That, on the other hand, gives it a credability that stereotypical (Solid Snake, Mario, etc) can’t deliver.

This game is not to be played as a game, as much as it should be viewed as a criminal thriller where you participate through QTE’s.
It is a kind of experience no other game will give you and I strongly recommend that you play it.
Not only for the different take on videogame experiences, but as to get perspective on how home console videogames have evolved through the aproximately 40 years they have been around. From “The Brown Box” of the 70’s, to our modern PS3, 360 and Wii.

Why movies and videogames mesh splendidly…

Keeping it real – Real faces, real voices.

What if…? – The re-play value is really cleverly designed.

“Cutie” – This is what Quick Time Events were made for.

Light, camera, action! – A new strain of videogaming experience.

06
Sep
10

Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game

I was browsing through the Playstation Store, when I stumbled upon the demo of this game.
Sooo, let’s see… Big, fat pixels in HD, 8-bit music…yeah.
Yeah I’m hooked.

Written by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott Pilgrim is a comic in six volumes, that started in 2004 and the 6th book was finally completed this year.

The story takes place in Toronto, where the 22-year old boy Scott Pilgrim lives. He is the bass player of a band called Sex Bob-Ombs (SMB2, anyone?) and together will Stephen Stills (the talent, guitarist and singer) and Kim (female rough neck and drummer) they try to become famous. In the midst of this, Scott meets Ramona Flowers, to whom he falls in love. The only this standing between Scott and Ramona are her seven evil exes that he has to defeat in order to date her.

A movie has been released, based on the comic and the game was produced and co-released with the movie. As soon as the game was available for download, I got the demo and tried it out. My expectations were met and surpassed.

The music is written by the band Anamanaguchi and is a strange, but ingenious combination of chip tunes and punk rock. I’m not a huge fan of punk rock, quite the contrary, but this is actually really good. The soundtrack was released in the US just a few days ago and I’m looking forward to get my hands on that. Check out their MySpace page here.

One of the first things that come to mind when playing this game is the challenge. Not that the enemies are particularly hard to beat, but the levels are intriguingly long. When you level up (oh, yes, it’s one of those games) you gain new abilities which comes in handy when dealing with exes and other frantic brawlers. If you use these techniques right, you shouldn’t have much of a problem maiming your way through. The controls are really simple and easy-to-use, so the only one you can blame for messing up, is yourself. Well, except for the counter move. It more like a 50/50 chance to succeed with that one.

Another great add-on to the game play are the several shops that you pass by on your journey. You can eat sushi, fajitas, drink coffee, energy drinks, etc. Every item gives you a few points in either strength, defence, speed and/or willpower, topped with some extra experience points. When I played River City Ransom (beat’em up for NES) I enjoyed the small shops you could enter and buy food and beverages, so when that part returns in this game, 21 years later, I’m getting a fuzzy, nostalgic feeling inside.

Since I have a Ph.D in trophy prostitution, I checked out the trophy list pretty quick and I must say – this is the weakest link in this game.

No co-op trophies, no knock-out-50-enemies-with-thrown-bottles-trophies, etc. You have one trophy for clearing the game with Scott, but what about the other three characters? I’d like to have trophies for, let’s say, “beating the first level without losing a life”, “beating the second level…” and so on. The aforementioned “throwing bottles trophy” got my senses tingling as well. You only have two boss-related trophies, which leaves five bosses out. That’s a bummer, if you ask me.
That put aside, I think it’s a great game that manage to capture that cozy retro feeling and since I am such a huge sucker for pixels, this goes down as AWESOME in my book.

The game is packed with gamer easter eggs. As the picture above suggests, the NES gets its fair share of tributes throughout the game. It’s Super Mario, Kirby and Mega Man, to name a few. If you get this game and have a history (and hopefully a present) that involves NES games, you should recognize the details as they occur.

And last but not least – Read the comic!
For the love of all that’s funny and/or holy, read the comic
before you play the game! You’ll enjoy the game sooo much more if you do so, trust me. I believe it’s a good order to start with the comic, play the game and last but not least, see the movie.
Comic-game-movie!

Why Scott Pilgrim kicks ass…

Bookworm True to the comic.
Take fighting to a new level Experience points. Period.
Gucci who? Anamanaguchi’s music is awesome!
Hip to be Square Pixel perfection.

26
Aug
10

Borderlands [NKD]

As a kid I watched a lot of cartoons.
Transformers, Thunder Cats, Starzinger, you name it. Time passed by and I grew older, but my interest for cartoons never receded. I’m 28 years old as I write this and I still watch cartoons. I sometimes fall back on Transformers and reminisce, but it has generally been replaced by anime of various kinds.

Videogames has also been a part of my life growing up, so when I finally played Dragon Ball Z: Budokai for the Playstation 2, I got really excited. Okay, it wasn’t a great game, but I was into the DBZ series and first and foremost, it looked like a cartoon. Well, it was cel-shaded, but that’s cartoon enough for me.

When I got my hands on Borderlands a few months ago, I was truly flabbergasted. Not only was it cel- shaded, but it was HD, FPS and RPG in one! I know I sound like a typical fanboy, all worked up over the latest release of a Star Wars movie or a new Final Fantasy game, totally totally oblivious to a critical and analytic way of thinking. That might be part of the truth, but this game actually lived up to my expectations.

The graphics are as close to a comic I’ve seen in a game so far. You have the stylized, striped shadows, the small “ink” details emphasizing body parts and the typical outline and it works perfectly. Nice details, but without getting too messy (unlike the armor of our bitter protagonist from Darksiders). Since it’s an FPS, you get a huge emphasis on the weapons and they surely deliver on that point too. Every weapon is unique, due to the “weapon generator”. The same goes for enemies and equipment too, so there’s a lot to pick from. The only downside is that you could get a shotgun with 4.9x zoom, while your sniper rifles tend to stick around the 1-2.5x range. I fail to see the logic in that.

A small detail to care about, considering the vast amount of weapons you’ll find. To top it off, you can also find weapons with different elemental attributes, with incendiary, explosive, chocking or corrosive additional damage. Trust me; you’ll find you weapon of choice.

Another thing that I like about the game is all the comments and one-liners you get from the characters, vault hunters and bandits alike. Every time I got a critical hit on one of the badass enemies (that is actually what they’re called), my character use to say “I don’t think he liked me”, followed by a sadistic laugh, which always made me laugh as well. Shared fun is twice the fun, right? I looked closer into the voice samples and I found out that it’s not only the weapons they have shitloads of. Every character have a couple of hundreds(!) different phrases and that alone gives a variation you surely appreciate.
Satisfaction abounds.

While running around in this desolate wasteland with tumbleweed and all that, you need some good ambience, right? Well, the composers responsible for the score made a great job. You get that ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ vibe while running around shooting skags and bandits and it really does the trick. To get a glimpse of its splendor, check out the awesome intro, with a great song from the band Cage the Elephant:

As you play the game, you’ll soon notice that you have a shitload of challenges that you can complete as well (shoot 2500 skags, get 500 critical hits, etc) and I’m still trying to complete the list, with great pleasure. You get experience points for completing these challenges, so it’s a good idea to check them out once in a while. Unfortunately, these challenges do not reward you with a trophy, once fully completed. Despite that, the trophies aren’t so bad. Sure, you’ve got the standard complete-an-episode thing going, which is just as classic as it is cliché nowadays.  You still got some goodies in there though. All in all, I like the trophies and they fun to achieve.

Since the game was released, they also released three DLC’s; The Zombie Island of Dr Ned, Mad Moxxi’s Underground Riot and The Secret Armory of General Knoxx, in that order. As DLC’s they were abundant and contained a lot of hours in gameplay, although it could get a bit repetitive at times. In Dr Ned and General Knoxx, you’ll have to travel back an forth on the map, completing one quest after another, but you can tell that the latter was the latest DLC to be released, due to it’s size and variation, in spite of the repetitiveness. Moxxi’s Underground Riot is just an arena add-on, where you can fight in three different arenas, completing different challenges. It also has a cool storage place, where you can buy space for up to 39 items, in case you’d have 4.000.000 dollars to spare. Let’s say you find a kickass gun, or mod, that you want to save for a later occasion (or character), you can just store it there.

The Video game magazine LEVEL wrote; “This game is for those who enjoyed Fallout 3, but would like to play in co-op”. I fully agree. It’s a fun game with a great tempo and if you’re into first person shooters, you should definitely try this one out.


Why Borderlands is greater than borderline…

You were saying..? Twice the fun with one-liners.
Slave to the grind Experience points in an FPS is a winning concept.
More…give me more! More guns and equipment than the US Army.
Can we do it again? Game plus!