Hello, my name is Fat Tony 12000 (no, it’s not), and you may have seen me pop up (not a euphemism) on this splendiferous website from time to time (from July 2010 onwards, if we interacted previous to that date, then I'm afraid it was a Fraud Tony), if we’ve spoken before and you liked it...then mad props to you, if we’ve spoken before and you hated it...then mad props to you. I am writing this thing because I want to write some words that some people read, well actually, if I’m being honest, it doesn't especially matter to me if anyone actually reads this stuff, because I can just pretend in my head that everyone reads it but is just far too busy to respond to it.
If you do not know what I am, then I will tell you right now. I am a ‘person’ who in the past has done things like this and this and this, and most recently creeped a little bit on Karen Snider. Please forgive me for my sins, I will try and make it up to all of you, somehow. My modus operandi right here and now is just to spit hot-forged links of words onto the anvil of your mind, so your brain can work them into a brilliant shining coat of zirah bagtar armour. Which you can ensconce yourself in and wear whilst fighting across this deadly digital battlefield, that we call...Giant Bomb Dot Com.
I will attempt to talk about video games, Batman, the Summer Olympics, guns, power showers, human interface devices, Steam, vacuum cleaner attachments, the World Wide Web, small home improvements, Magic: The Gathering and acetone, nuclear physics, Terry Pratchett and the waning weeks of summer. Although not necessarily on this episode, in that order, or at all, in fact.
God, I already hate this.
/creepy wink at camera
Bordering on the Bored
Since none of you duders came to my aid, I just went ahead and ploughed through this lovable little scamp of a video game by myself. And good golly, isn’t that just a jolly little FPS to romp around in? Coming back to it after a couple of years away from the Xbox 360 version of the game, and getting down to the juicy PC version (it ain’t that terrible, despite what many people say about the UI, as it happens, you should be using a Xbox 360 controller anyway) was a great experience. The amalgamation of blasting through half remembered parts of that game along with experiencing the new sights and sounds proffered by the DLC that I had missed out on the first time around (namely, Claptrap's New Robot Revolution) was really quite a good bit of fun.
The instantly familiar heft and weight of the weaponry was somehow soothing to my ailing digits, the tried and true left trigger/right trigger combination of firing a scoped combat rifle into the squishy heads of distant enemies was like a warm comforting blanket around my shoulders. In fact, this familiarity was fed by more than just these feeble human feelings, but also due to the fact that I was still using the same wired Xbox 360 controller that I had bought in October 2008, and which I had originally played Borderlands with back in 2009. There is a small story to this particular controller (and in particular, the particular parts that make up this particular controller) that maybe, someday, I’ll be able to share with you all. If you’re good, and don’t leave any of this homemade content on your plate.
What a crock of shit all that was, maybe I should write about why I thought this was an awesome game in 2009, and why I think it’s still pretty not bad today, or whatever day I post this edition on (yeah...that’s right, these posts are called ‘editions’...bringing back that magazine terminology for twenty does). Here we go.
I started a completely new game on a completely new platform, but I still choose to roll with the only class that I had ever poured any serious amount of time into, the soldier. It’s not as if I’d not tried out the other patrons of punishment during my first go-around with the game, but the time I spent with the other four characters probably totalled something in the region of a dozen hours or so. The primary reasons for picking the same guy once again are that I really like having a deployable turret with homing missiles, team ammo regen, grenade regen, huge magazine sizes on scoped combat rifles, along with grenades and bullets that heal my whole team. All of these little features packed into the soldier really suit my style of gameplay, at least in this game, which is to usually stay out of way of enemies and put about 500 corrosive rounds into their skulls from outside of their effective range. Now, Mordecai and his affinity for sniper rifles could of course reach out and touch those distant enemies with great ease, but those rifles tend to be semi automatic and have small magazines. I like to be able to go from burst fire to fully automatic as and when the situation demands.
I’ve not forgotten that all of the classes can indeed make use of all of the weapon types, but the way I tend to play is to stick with the favoured weapon of that particular class, I find I can make the most of class mods and proficiency levels that way. Speaking of class mods, and their interaction with your skill points (oh yeah, this game includes some RPG elements...hmm...), did you know that even though you can only have five points assigned to any one skill in your skill tree, any bonuses applied by class mods invisibly stack above and beyond that ‘maximum’ number, all the way up to nine points in total, made up from five points from the tree and four points from a mod. Huh, that’s not a thing that’s ever mentioned or explained at any point in the game, ever. Which is a shame, at least for the ghost of past me, because I never knew that the first time around. I rectified this by making damn sure that I exploited this functionality throughout my recent playthrough.
My faithful soldier is called Walter White, and I can role play him. Wait, no, that’s not really what I mean, let me try and explain what I’m getting at. As we all know, Borderlands has a light sprinkling of RPG Parmigiano-Reggiano all over its meaty FPS lasagne base. Now it clearly isn’t a RPG in the same way as Fallout or The Witcher or Baldur’s Gate is, but it does have those flavourful crunchy nuggets of RPG elements mixed up in there. I, however, am not talking about functionality or mechanics, loot tables or the levelling up that is bestowed unto the player by these associated RPG elements. What I mean by role playing in this case is that, more than any other single player/co-op FPS game that I can care to remember, you are being constantly encouraged and rewarded by the effect you are having upon both your enemies and your teammates. The role that you are playing. Not through dialogue choices or a colour-coded morality wheel, but through the weapons and abilities that you bring to bear on your opponents, and the well-defined niche that you are filling inside of the team dynamic. More words coming at you in the next paragraph...
In a 4 player co-op campaign game of Halo 3 (which is great fun, by the way), you have a ‘role’ as part of the team in relation to the weapons that you are carrying, which in turn probably comes from your skill and ability with those said weapons. There are certain people who are expert snipers, and will never pick up a hammer or a sword, then there will be those people that prefer to stick with plasma weapons in order to effectively rip through enemy shields and so and so forth. Due to the weapon balancing that Bungie does in its Halo games you are actively encouraged to change weapons as the situation demands it, you cannot physically reach out to an opponent who is 300 feet away with a shotgun, so you must switch up or scavenge up something else to deal with the threat. Ideally, your teammates will be aware that you are holding the sole shotgun among your group, and therefore target the enemies that you can not...ideally...
Now, these roles as defined by balance of player ability and weapon limitation in Halo 3 are morphed into something quite refreshing when we look at how Borderlands handles things, at least in my gorgeous watery blue eyes. You have quick access to any one of four weapons (not quite from the beginning of the game, but still early in the grand scheme of things), with no restrictions as to what kind of weapon you are able to use at any particular time. Unlike what we find in the Halo games, where every weapon behaves in the same way every time, you are able to supplement and upgrade the effectiveness of your armaments in Borderlands. This, of course ties into those scrummy RPG elements mentioned earlier, upgrading and levelling up and whatnot. But what I feel that Borderlands is giving me here is a continual feedback loop where I become more and more invested in using a weapon, along with the feeling that I'm playing into the role that the combat rifle is best suited to.
I’ve just spent all that time just rambling about how I think the combat rifles in Borderlands feel rewarding to use.
I THINK WE’LL END THIS TRAINWRECK THERE FOR NOW THANKS!?
I'll sit quietly and think about what I done, and try to form actual real boy thoughts about this game and talk about other goods things that are on the inside of it, suffice it to say that it's still a great game overall and it remains as enjoyable as ever. And except for the slight inconvenience caused by the lack of warp points inside of the DLC levels, I have learnt to love it all over again. The warp points are just a minor issue that I’m sure Randy has personally fixed for Borderlands 2, which will drop into my gaping British computer machine in 45 days time.
- First played: 21 July, 2012
- Last played: 4 August, 2012
- 36.7 total hours on record
- 51 of 80 (64%) achievements earned
- First achievement earned: And They'll Tell Two Friends (21 July, 2012)
- Last achievement earned: It's so realistic! (4 August, 2012)
- Level 44
- Level 30 combat rifle proficiency
- 34 items purchased
- 72863 total shots fired
- 573 kills from critical hits
- 2411 combat rifle kills
- 437 sniper rifle kills
- 149 pistol kills
- 10 rocket launcher kills
- 9 SMG kills
- 0 shotgun kills
Three weeks of summer and winter left this year
I have not caught on fire or been shot at, I would therefore consider this to be an extremely profitable summer for me. Profitable, that is, in my own sense of happiness, safety and comfort. You could say that I'm currently running a surplus of comfort, by which I mean that I’ve realised that I am exceptionally physically lazy and quite unhealthy for my age. These aspects of my life I am very much working on to improve. However, I have another aspect of my being that I need to impress upon myself to cultivate, something much trickier to mold and refine than muscle and flesh...the human mind...my human mind...mer thinkin’ dome.
Don’t worry, this isn’t going to turn into a 2000 word sob story about how stupid I think I am, and how much I feel sorry for myself due to my many failings. What I want to get out there is that everyone should learn about something that they never knew about before. At least once a day. Every day. Even if it’s boring or something you’ve never cared about previously, even if it’s reading or watching or listening to something about some person who lived 2400 years ago, or some field of science or sociology or technology that you never even considered ‘for you’. Just try and learn. Spend a few minutes reading about the rules to a sport you’ve never heard of, or how IPS LCD screens work, and then try and talk to other people about what you’ve discovered. Who knows, you might just strike up a conversation with the world’s foremost Ga-ga ball or Pyotr Nesterov expert.
If you already learn stuff, then good on ya, I’d love to hear what you’ve recently found out about this Mad Mad Mad Mad World. If not, then why not give it a fair old shake and see what falls out of the bountiful information tree growing atop the hillock of the human condition. Even as the sun is starting to set on this, the most pleasant of Earthly seasons, we can still try to keep a bright ray of knowledge streaming through the darkened canopy of our own ignorance and my god what am I talking about.
I will report back with my findings, in the meantime...
Always be learning.
So...how has your summer been? No...your Real Summer
We did it guys, as if we were waging our very own campaign of righteous justice against a foul bastion of wickedness and immorality, we won. We Won The Steam Summer Sale 2012. Give yourselves a big ole round of applause and a hearty pat on each other’s backs, at the same time. There have been a few Giant Bomb threads regarding the good and bad sides to this most recent sale, as well as the varying opinions expressed by some of the Giant Bomb staff. I fall on the side of having greatly enjoyed sampling a few choice morsels of cheap video game meringue, lovingly spread over my lemony Steam library curd filling. Whilst my library is not ‘complete’, I am getting to the point where I have the vast majority of games that I could ever wish for. Except, that’s what I thought last year. And the year before that.
What follows is a list of what amounts to my haul for this year:
- Borderlands: Game of the Year = £4.99
- Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition = £7.49
- Krater = £5.99
- The Longest Journey + Dreamfall = £3.74
- Total War Mega Pack = £8.74
- Grand Theft Auto Complete Pack = £4.99
- Total = £35.94 (which is about $56.15 in the new money)
If I were to buy all of those games today, I would be looking at a grand total of £131.94 ($206.14 or €165.95 or ¥1313.96). At the time of writing this, only one of these games has been played to any great degree. And it’s one that I had already put dozens of hours into when it was originally released three years ago. Stupid me, right? But that’s the thing, so long as you’re playing something that you want to, how are you really disadvantaging yourself? The game isn’t going anywhere, and what if you feel like digging yourself into an Empire: Total War trench and playing that for an entire week sometime in the future? Well, I say you’re not hurting anyone, least of all yourself, if you’ve bought a game that you don’t end up playing for a bit/six months! Those who drop £200 on each sale, year after year, and play only one of those hundreds of games; are the ones with more money than sense and they should be rightly mocked for being rather silly indeed.
I will play them all. I will. I swear this unto you Gabe.
What if I write words about me playing them as well?
For those of us privileged enough to be classed as Premium Subscribers, we got to drop in on Vinny and Dave and Jeff and Karen last Friday, and shoot the shit via Skype (as well as a bloody phone call, someone actually phoned in...ON A TELEPHONE!), I was lucky enough to be picked for the second time in a row on this show (the last one was primarily about Dave and Alexis chatting about the slog they have to go through to Rebuild the Bomb). And after some brief Olympics banter and a M4 motorway quip from Jeff, I got down to spurting out my question into Dave's ears.
It was the same question as last time.
Then things went a little creepy, in a good way.
You shoulda been there, man.
The Big Live Show V3 is coming to our screens and lives pretty soon, by the way. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say when, but Jeff did let us in on that super hot secret date, if you were there then you know. If you weren’t, then, well, you only have yourself to blame don’t you?
Well, that was something wasn’t it? Allow me to leave you with these last few things, a parting gift if you will.
Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again.
- Caliban, from William Shakespeare's The Tempest
Until next time?