Colorwind Reviews Twisted Metal (2012) - Your Wish is Granted.

  • Vehicular Combat
  • Developed by Eat Sleep Play, SCE Santa Monica Studios
  • Published by Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Available on PlayStation 3 [played]
  • Released on 2012-02-14 (PS3)

The original Twisted Metal gave birth to the vehicular combat genre. A wacky yet dark cast of characters would do battle on the streets of Los Angeles with cars equipped with missiles, machine guns and more for a chance to meet the enigmatic Calypso, who would grant them one wish, no matter how extravagant or impossible. It was a wonderfully fast paced and destructive experience that I loved and with six sequels already under its belt, the series has now gotten a reboot with a new story and a new faction concept. While the concept and mechanics that made the series successful are still engaging and exhilarating to play, some of the new ideas unfortunately fall flat.

Title Analysis

Calypso, the head of Calypso Industries, is holding a Twisted Metal contest. Same as every year. The winner will meet Calypso and have one wish granted to them, whatever it is their heart desire. Story mode tells the tale of Sweet Tooth, Mr. Grimm, and Dollface, as well as Calypso and the Twisted Metal competition itself. Their stories are demented and gruesomely entertaining, as the people in this contest are unhinged to say the least. However, unlike other Twisted Metal games, there are only three characters in this game, making the story woefully short, and the reveal about Calypso and the contest is quite different from previous games in the series, which will put off some longtime fans of the series. You don’t even get to choose which character you play as first, which is unfortunate as the first story is ultimately the strongest.

Regardless of the complaints with the actual content of the story, the presentation of the story and the game in general are top notch. The stories are all told through stylized live action cutscenes that clearly drew influence from movies like 300 and Sin City but from a more horror-themed perspective. The cutscenes all look really nice and are well acted, especially the voice acting. Graphically, the game runs at a solid 60 fps and the environments are huge with bright warm colors sprinkled across the mostly dark, cold colored landscapes. Unfortunately, while the cars and environments have a lot of detail to them, a lot of the textures are muddy and low res. Twisted Metal 2012 displays in 720p and it seems that the game is actually a bit more graphically ambitious than the PS3 can handle.

Twisted Metal’s soundtrack is full of licensed hard rock and classic rock tracks as well as original compositions. Driving around blasting other drivers while Sammy Hagar’s “I Can’t Drive 55” plays feels a bit surreal but cool nonetheless. However, if you want your own music, there is an option to change to a custom soundtrack via files on your PS3 hard drive. The sound effects are effective in expressing the insanity onscreen but still miss the visceral feel that this game could have had, as car crashes and such don’t feel as impactful as they could. From a technical standpoint, it should be noted that load times in this game can be kind of long, especially when you first load up the game. In fact, this game does have a tendency of getting stuck while connecting to the online servers.

Twisted Metal plays a lot like the previous games in the series. You drive a car equip with various weapons and use them to destroy the other cars in the battleground. However, different in this version is the idea of factions. As I mentioned before, there are only three characters in this game. As such, when you play Challenge mode or Multiplayer, you will pick either Sweet Tooth’s Clowns faction, Mr. Grimm’s Skulls faction, Dollface’s Dolls faction, or the Preacher’s Holy Men faction, who is a character from the story mode. You then pick a car each with their own stats and special weapons that can also be customize with decals, paint jobs and sidearm weapons. Characters are no longer bound to their cars so Dollface can drive Sweet Tooth’s ice cream truck if she wants. I’m not a big fan of this change from a story perspective, but from a gameplay perspective, this doesn’t change the gameplay too much except for some weapons being fired by either the driver or a henchmen riding shotgun.

Once you’ve picked your faction and car, you are thrown into a warzone, shooting missiles at other combatants, crashing through buildings, and speeding across roads at break neck speeds with little to no regard for self preservation. The action is frantic, and at first, you may think that you don’t have the reflexes and skill to survive even a minute. This overwhelming chaos can be intimidating and the overly complicated controls don’t help. Widely used maneuver commands and special attacks are done in unintuitive ways. Even after playing through the story mode, I still was forgetting how to do things. Clearly the developers ran out of buttons to do commands with so thankfully, there is a tutorial mode that show how to do commands, as well as how to play the various multiplayer modes.

As convoluted as the controls are, once you do get the hang of them, you’ll find that Twisted Metal 2012 makes you feel like a badass. This is thanks to the concept of the gameplay being easy to grasp: shoot the other cars until they explode. You soon will be sliding around corners, jumping over barriers and blasting unsuspecting drivers. The maps add to the enjoyment as they are expansive and have various pickups that give the game a level playing field similar to Unreal Tournament. And of course there are the destructible environments. It’s awesome to careen through a supermarket, or completely destroy a house or even a entire building, even if some buildings aren’t destructible and it can be difficult to distinguish which ones can and can’t. Ultimately, this is arguably the most visceral Twisted Metal has ever been.

When playing by yourself, you’ll be in either the Story Mode or Challenge mode. Story Mode is the story-driven mode that uses a six match format for each character, each of which have special stipulations such as staying within a safe zone, the use of garages to switch out cars, or racing the other cars to a certain finishing area or objective. Challenge Mode allows you to play against AI bots on any map for a one off match. There are three different battle types, and eight maps to choose from, as well as an option to play in smaller sections of the maps. The different objectives in Story mode do help diversify the combat and it’s enjoyable to replay the missions for high ranked medals and unique experiences. However, Challenge mode is ultimately the most enjoyable when you want to play by yourself with no frills or special conditions.

Unfortunately, one of the most troubling issues with the single player aspect of Twisted Metal 2012 is the AI. The AI tends to attack you exclusively if you are in a certain radius, going so far as to make their way to you without attacking anyone else. I did several tests to make sure of this and its disappointing that the AI was designed in this way. It really puts a damper on the experience when playing Twisted Metal by yourself. Another problem are the boss fights in Story mode. They’re way too long and are way too convoluted. The Iron Maiden fight is particularly bad and I found myself raging, just begging for it to be over. I mean, nine different sections? Really? Who’s the masochist who designed this? I WANT NAMES!

Unfortunately, I was unable to test out the local multiplayer or the LAN play and was only able to play three matches of Deathmatch online as there are not that many people playing this game online anymore. However, there are seven modes to choose from online, experience points can be earned to unlock cars for use online, and there are various options to filter and change your matches. From my time online, the matches I did have were responsive with no lag and no connection errors. Although I was no where as good as those I played online with, I really enjoyed the experience as a lot of the AI issues and story mode concerns were wiped away. No glitchy AI preying on only me, no disappointing story arcs, no convoluted bosses. Just pure Twisted Metal mayhem at its finest!

It’s then I realized that the main issue with Twisted Metal 2012 is that while the main concept is still a lot of fun, the game itself doesn’t seem to know that. At every turn, the offline game seems determined to distract you from that core experience as if it wasn’t enough. All the extra stuff makes the game feel like it wasn’t confident enough in its roots and it’s a shame. It makes for a game that’s weighed down by unnecessary baggage. The strength of this game is really its multiplayer as all the baggage is stripped away for a more pure experience. Too bad there’s almost no one online…

Completion Evaluation

For nearly every match you finish in the story mode, you are rewarded with either a new sidearm, a new special attack, or a new car. Finishing the story mode in normal and hard difficulties will earn you new decals, while Twisted difficulty earns you a laser pistol sidearm. However, if you are good enough to finish Story Mode in the Twisted Difficulty with all Gold medals, you’ll earn the Warthog car, which looks like it did in Twisted Metal Black. Other than that, that’s it for in-game content. However, due to the nature of story mode, you need to really enjoy what the Story mode has to offer. The struggle that would be involved in dealing with the prejudice AI just gives me shivers and threatens to put an ugly scar on my love for this franchise.

Add on the trophies in this game, which has you playing a lot of multiplayer – something that’s becoming more and more difficult to do – and completing the story mode without dying (!) and this is definitely one of the more difficult games to Platinum. To be fair, there isn’t a lot of actual objectives to complete, just ones that take a lot of time but Twisted Metal 2012 is still a hard game to complete and should only be done by the most hardcore completionists or those who really enjoy this game.

Consumer Report

Finishing the story mode will take you around five hours, which isn’t that much. Therefore, the value of Twisted Metal 2012 depends on how much you value multiplayer. However, as of October 2014, not that many people are playing this game online and most of the match types are Deathmatch. Therefore, your purchase will REALLY depend on whether you have a friend to play with you. Also, Twisted Metal 2012 requires an online pass, that must be bought separately for $10 if you buy it used or rent it. That’s a lot of caveats for a game at full price. Luckily, Twisted Metal can be bought for $20 on the PSN store and I got my physical copy for $20 at Walmart. I would recommend renting this game to see if you like it, but if you do decide to buy it, spend no more than $20.

The Verdict

Twisted Metal 2012 has a lot of great aspects to it but fails to fully embrace the simplistic fun the series is known for. What’s here is still a good representation of what makes the game fun but is hampered with convoluted controls, frustrating challenge, and little content that only serves to dissuade newcomers from getting on board. This is not a bad game; this isn’t even a bad Twisted Metal game. I’m still playing it as I’ve been able to find the fun this title has to offer. However, this is one of the lesser titles in the franchise and it does miss that special something that made this series great.

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Borderlands 3rd Impressions

This is going to be a short post because I only have something to say on one aspect of the game this time. I finally got a chance to play Borderlands co-op with two other people online. However, it was with two random people online. It was cool working with other people (one was a hunter, the other was a siren, like me) and the connection was perfect, with no lag whatsoever. However, the entire time I played, no one was sure what we were doing, no one was using a mic so communication was limited, and enemies because bullet sponges.

I think the online play is only fun if you have friends to play with. I did once play Borderlands on the 360 with my friend Rick and I vaguely remember it being a good time. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of friends with the PC version of Borderlands with all the DLC and microphones. I don’t know if I’ll be able to go into a lot of depth with the online functionality. Other than that, that’s everything to update with my Borderlands playthrough / review. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen everything this game has to offer me from a gameplay standpoint and I’m basically getting bored. The next update will probably not be until I beat the main game but before I move on to the DLC.

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Discussing: The Legend of Zelda and My Awakening

Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog discussing my issues with the Legend of Zelda series. I said that while I really liked A Link Between Worlds, I found Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, and even Ocarina of Time (which I completed and enjoyed) to ultimately be devoid of interesting things to do. I got a lot of comments telling me that I was being too harsh on these games, specifically The Wind Waker. So I decided to give it another try. Wind Waker was the game I focused on the most in my argument and I wasn’t sure how I would feel about coming back to it for what would be the fourth or fifth time.

Playing through it again, a lot of my complaints were realized. A lot of the things out in the open sea were not interesting and it still took too long to sail anywhere. At one point, I set sail for my destination, put the gamepad down, got up, got something to drink, looked at the kitchen sink, washed a plate left there from before, dried my hands and came back to the game only to find that I was only half way there. However, I know that my completionist tendencies have sometimes prevented me in finishing games in the past. So I did something I thought I shouldn’t do in a Zelda game: I stopped exploring.

I stopped sailing to every square on the map and stayed on the main path. Only when I grew tired of the main story or saw something interesting on my way to my next destination would I engage with the optional content in Wind Waker. For example, I checked out the auctions and got the swift sail, I got a few heart containers, and I fed bait to every fish I ran into to fill out the section of the map I was in. Playing this way, I found that I was enjoying the game a lot more. I was able to see the strengths of the game rather than the weaknesses.

The combat in Wind Waker is really good. There’s a lot of dodging and moves to do in different combinations. The four hit combo can play out in a lot of different ways. The story actually ended up pulling me in despite the obvious components (Ganon’s the main bad guy, Zelda gets kidnapped) being present. A lot of the dungeons are fun to play through. I grew to like having the items and map on the touch screen ready at any time. Finally, I really liked the ending and the ambiguity yet hopefulness it brings. Yes, I actually finished the game finally!

I did have some new complaints. Ganon is basically bad because he kidnapped your sister by accident and everyone said so. I wish there were more temples as it feels like parts of the game were originally intended to be dungeons rather than one off sections. Also, fuck the Earth Temple. That temple was just annoying and Medli was more irritating to use than helpful. However, I really because enraptured by this little dude in green going out to save the land.

I pretty much when crazy with Zelda after that. I started researching Zelda online all the time, watching videos about the lore of Zelda on YouTube and when I got some money, I bought myself a new wallet with the Zelda emblem on it and several Zelda games. I got the original Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventures of Link, and The Minish Cap on the Wii U, Link’s Awakening DX on the 3DS, and Twilight Princess on the Wii. Am I a Zelda superfan now? It depends on how much I like these games but I’ve enjoyed Minish Cap so far and Twilight Princess has me intrigued.

I have come to the realization that the 3D Zelda games excel more in giving an experience rather than giving a world to explore. While I do enjoy the exploration of the 2D games more, I now enjoy the scope of the 3D games. I was approaching the 3D Zelda games the same way I would a 2D one and I don’t think that’s not understandable. However, Zelda has changed over the years and the focus is different from before. It’s not like I didn’t want to like the Zelda series but I now know I needed to see that they’re great in a different way. I said I would give Zelda another try and I’m glad I did.

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5ive: Games That Have Never Been Ported

HD remasters and re-releases are all the rage in video games right now. Remember Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando? You can play that game on your PS3 in HD now. You don’t need the original PS2 version. How about Golden Axe? You can get that and a bunch of other awesome games from the Sega Genesis on the Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection? What about Final Fantasy IV? FOOL! You can get that on your phone or on the computer, with extra content and brand new graphics! Hell, they’re re-releasing games on the new consoles that are only a couple of years old. Sleeping Dogs is coming to the PS4 and X1 next week. So pretty much any game that you like from the past you can now play on the current generation of consoles, right? WRONG! Despite the video game industry’s best efforts, there are still great games that have yet to be ported even once! For that reason, here are 5ive Games That Have Never Been Ported.

1. Street Fighter EX Plus α

With all of the fighting game ports that Capcom has done (Marvel vs. Capcom Origins, Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online, Darkstalkers Resurrection), I’m surprised that they haven’t touched the Street Fighter EX series. The polygonal series of Street Fighter, EX plus α had 23 characters, including some that have yet to be feature in another Street Fighter series. The gameplay resembled the Alpha series and was heavy on the cancelling. It featured a lot of modes, including a Practice mode that would teach you the moves of the characters as well as some basic and advance combos that would be featured in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 as well as a lot of the aforementioned ports. Add in a kickass soundtrack (I could listen to Sakura’s level music all the time) and Street Fighter EX Plus α is a game that deserves to be played again. Too bad you can only play it on the original PlayStation.

2. Shadow Hearts

Dark, creepy, and infinitely intriguing, Shadow Hearts was an RPG that differentiated itself from the pack. It could be described as being a more mature take on the JRPG style as there are many instances of violence and gruesome enemy designs that only more adult minded people can see and understand. Shadow Hearts takes place in the year 1913 but in an alternative timeline. You play as Yuri, who has a mysterious voice in his head guiding his actions. You are out to save Alice, who’s father has been murdered. The story continues on and Alice’s importance becomes revealed as the two battle demons and the occult. The most tantalizing aspect to this game is the Judgment Ring. Battles are random and turn based like most JRPGs but the Judgment Ring allows for more or powerful attacks, or increased effects of items. This makes the battles more involved and can make for some great comeback moments. This game was published by Midway in the US so that’s probably why this game is only available on the PlayStation 2.

3. Dark Savior

A little bit out of the way but a great game nonetheless, Dark Savior is one of the more unique games out there. This game is not just one genre of game but three. It’s an isometric platformer, a fighting game and a puzzle-adventure title. A lot of the game will have you jumping around, solving puzzles, and exploring the area. However, when you face an enemy, the game changes into a 3D fighter. What’s more is there’s actually four different ways to play through the game. Depending on whether you reach the end of the first part of the game in a certain time, the rest of the game will now play out in a different way. That means you need to play the game multiple times to see not only all the endings but all of the stories the game has to tell. One of the games that perfectly encapsulate what made the Sega Saturn so interesting, Dark Savior remains a Sega Saturn exclusive and deserves another look.

4. WCW/nWo Revenge

The sad thing about licensed games is they rarely get ported to new consoles because the license is usually temporary. Such is the case with the bunch of awesome wrestling games that were on the Nintendo 64. One of the best however was the system exclusive WCW/nWo Revenge. Arguably the wrestling game that put the genre on the map, Revenge allowed up to four players to wrestle on one screen. The simple mechanics had been tuned from the previous World Tour game and more moves were now available to the wrestlers. Besides all of the famous WCW wrestlers at the time, you could also create a character for you to play. That was one of the greatest features of the game: the customizability. Even the WCW wrestlers of the game could be changed to suit your needs and it was rare that you would fight against a wrestler who looked like you. The last great wrestling game from the WCW brand, this game was only released on the Nintendo 64 and because the WCW is no more, it doesn’t look like they will be porting this game anytime soon.

5. Buffy The Vampire Slayer (2002)

Another example of licensed games, this game based on the popular TV show is a 3D beat-em-up with puzzle elements. The story takes place during the third season of the show and features mainstays of that season such as the Master and a villainous Spike. Levels take place in familiar locals such as Sunnyvale High and the cast of the show reprise their roles for the game, except for Sarah Michelle Gellar. Like the show, you will spend most of your time as Buffy beating up vampires and finishing them off with wooden stakes or other sharp items that you can utilize. What makes this game so fun is the controls are simple enough for casual games to pick up and enjoy but awesome special attacks and maneuvers for the more advance players to use are included as well. The voice actors play their parts well and the story is up to the show’s quality. People who aren’t big fans of the show will still be able to get into the game because it works as it’s own product and doesn’t require you to know the show to enjoy it. Unfortunately, if you want to play it, you can only get it on the original Xbox.

And there you have it! 5ive games that will make you want to kick yourself for getting rid of your old consoles for some random new hotness. What are your thoughts on these games? Got any ideas for games that could be included on this list? Maybe just ideas for topics for future lists? Let me know in the comments. 5ive is a new idea for me so feedback is always appreciated. Thanks for reading! Peace and Love, gamers and players! Colorwind out!

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Discussing: The Legend of Zelda and The Loss of Wonderment

I did not grow up with The Legend of Zelda. Blame my local rental stores who never had it available. I grew up on the SNES and I played Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country, and other Nintendo classics. However, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was never around. The first Zelda game I played was Ocarina of Time and at first I didn’t like it. The lack of a jump button really bothered me. However, several years later, I tried the original on the NES via an emulator and loved it. So I went back and tried Ocarina of Time again and enjoyed it. However, I never thought it was an amazing game.

Flash forward to the release of Wind Waker and I tried out a friend’s copy. I got bored during the second dungeon. I bought Twilight Princess around the launch of the Wii game and I couldn’t even get past the intro area. It’s entirely possible that I’m not really a fan of Zelda games and I shouldn’t try anymore since it’s probably just not for me. However, I feel the need to keep giving these games a try. I bought the 3DS version of Ocarina of Time and still haven’t finished it because I got bored. I got the Wii U HD remake of Wind Waker and although I’ve gotten much further than before, I haven’t finished it and didn’t really enjoy my time playing it.

However, last December, I rented and then bought The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and fell in love with it. I finished that game 100% really quickly because I just couldn’t stop playing it. A Link Between Worlds is easily my favorite Zelda game and it made me realize what my problem is with the other Zelda games.

A lot of the Zelda games, at least since Ocarina of Time, have been really linear. They go from one dungeon to the next with objectives to move the story along in between. However, they do have a field, an ocean, something for you to explore. Usually, this place in question looks really nice and inviting so you run around seeing what’s there. This is the point where I find there’s nothing. There’s no secret areas, not that many hidden missions, and the collectables that are there are usually tedious. Wind Waker is probably the best example of this and there’s nothing but blue ocean everywhere with the occasional enemy tower and cannons. Oddly enough, that is how the ocean is so you could say that it’s accurate.

Another problem is what is out in the field isn’t really that interesting or fun. Giant squid battle? Fun the first time but the fights never change. Treasure Charts? That’s a whole lot of effort to go through just for some rupees. And don’t even get me started on the gold skulltulas. A lot of these items are often hard to find too because it rarely occurs to me that I should be looking at them. Everything in Hyrule Field in Ocarina of Time looks bland a farm here, a few entrances there, and then just green floor with a dirt path everywhere. Compared to A Link Between Worlds, there’s weeds to cut, cracked walls to blow up, rivers to swim through. Look! There’s an alcove that I can’t reach! How do I get there? I want to be there!

Something that it seems the 3D Zelda games have trouble with is giving you that desire to explore and to reward that exploration. The wonderment of being in an adventurous land like Hyrule hasn’t been translated well in a lot of recent games. If you think about a game like Assassin’s Creed II, you have cities like Venice or Forli, with all of the people and vendors and guards and buildings and artworks and waterways and etcetera, etcetera. I’m not saying Zelda needs to do the same thing but it does need stuff in its world. Multiple shops, people, enemies, wildlife, various paths, different land elevations, interactable items, and so on.

Apparently, I’m not alone with this complaint. Nintendo has said that they’re going to try different stuff with the Zelda series and some open world concepts are said to be integrated in the upcoming title on the Wii U. I’m interested to see what they do if anything but in the meantime, I’ll still give Zelda a try. I’ve been watching a playthrough of Twilight Princess on the YouTube channel YoVideogames. Watching that has inspired both this blog and for me to buy Twilight Princess again and give it another shot. Wish me luck.

Thanks for reading! Do you have similar complaints? Do you disagree? Are you a super Zelda fan and think you can explain the appeal of Zelda games? Should I just stop trying to play a series I don’t like and play something I enjoy? Leave me a comment and let me know. I’d love to hear your take on my thoughts and issues with the Zelda series. Peace and love, gamers and players! Colorwind out!

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Borderlands 2nd Impressions

I have now played Borderlands for 14 hours. I’m at level 23 and I just entered New Haven. I looked up online about how far I’m into the game and apparently, I’m somewhere around half way. This worries me because the story has been essentially non-existent. I don’t want to say much because I don’t want to spoil anything and I want to go in depth in my actual review but essentially, I am looking for this secret vault and am doing favors for the locals to gain their trust / get clues on where the vault might be. There have been some messages of some people telling me to stop searching but that’s about it. The story hasn’t changed since I’ve started playing.

A lot of the characters in the game have something that makes them interesting to hear from, such as a cripple with a shotgun or a redneck mechanic, and a lot of this comes from the good voice acting. However, you don’t spend enough time with these characters to really grow to love them. Also, since most of your interactions with these characters is through voice messages, it makes the few interactions even less impactful.

The gameplay hasn’t changed at all since I last wrote about it. However, while before I found myself not like certain weapon categories like the shotgun, I have found uses for them now. I’ve realized that one of the reasons the shooting feels so good is because each category of weapon offers a different kind of satisfying feel. Snipers can kill enemies in one well placed shot, shotguns can make enemies recoil, and SMGs can whittle away life quickly if you have a strong enough gun. I’m still haven’t trouble finding a good use of assault rifles but I like how each gun type truly doesn’t have a use for certain situations.

Another reason the shooting’s great is the guns themselves. The design of the guns in my opinion aren’t as varied and cool looking as maybe they’re supposed to be. However, they are cool when you aim. The designs of the aiming reticles are more inventive and varied than most games. Aiming lets you see through the gun’s sights or through the scope and it’s really satisfying to have someone in your line of fire. You shoot, see the flashes coming from the gun and then see the numbers pop up above the enemy’s head. That’s the other thing too. Having that hit confirmation of hit points removed show up as you shoot enemies is really satisfying. It feels that OCD side of me that wants to do things exact and efficiently.

In terms of progressing, I’ve noticed that the skill points you earn each time you level up actually don’t help you that much. The real upgrades come from just the base stats being updated from leveling up as well as the new weapons you earn. I’ve been more experimental with the weapons I keep and elemental effects can really make a difference. Reload rate is also one that’s really important and I wish it was a statistic that the game listed flat out.

Unfortunately, repetition is really starting to set in. At this point, I HAVE to listen to something else to continue having fun with the game and I can’t play too much before having to stop. The missions, though rewarding, are just not varied enough. The fact that the environments all kind of look the same also doesn’t help. I’ve actually taken a couple of days off and have started playing another game (Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood) to break up the repetition. Borderlands feels like a game that you grind on and play when you need a break from the main game that you’re playing.

Those are my thoughts now of Borderlands. I haven’t had a chance to play multiplayer so that is what I want to do next. If anyone wants to play Borderlands on Steam, my username is Colorwind. Remember that I’m level 23 right now so I would like to play with someone the same level as me. However, I do want to play with someone a lower level than me and a higher level than me so I can see what the game does with that. Until next time, peace and love, gamers and players!

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Borderlands 1st Impressions

So I’ve played Borderlands now for several hours. I’ve gotten to level 18 and I’m about to go after Sledge. I’ve played Borderlands in the past on my 360 and even got to the second area. So I’ve played further than this. However, as I’m sticking to the PC version now, I’ll focus on that.

When I first started the game, I noticed some screen tearing and blurry cut scenes. I went into the menu to see if I can fix it and was unable to. So then I searched online for a solution and found out there are some graphical settings that aren’t in the in-game menu. You need to go into the config file and screw with that in order to turn on things like Vsync and disable mouse smoothing. So Borderlands leaves something to be desired in terms of PC options.

Once I fixed all of that though, the game ran pretty well. Using Bandicam, I saw that the game ran at a consistent 60 frames per second. I have noticed that when stuff gets crazy sometimes, the frame rate suffers. However, it doesn’t last long. I’ve also seen some blurry textures here and there (grass and weeds don’t look good close up) but overall, Borderlands runs great and looks great too, especially for a now five year old game.

The controls in Borderlands feel really good. Moving around and shooting with a mouse and keyboard feels really good, better than my time with the game on a Xbox 360 controller. I like the different effects some of the guns have on enemies, such as exploding on contact or setting them on fire. However, the models themselves are nothing amazing as far as I have seen so far. So far, the only thing that looks vaguely cool is when a gun is a pretty shade of blue that I like. Of course this is subjective but I mostly just keep the gun that’s more powerful and I keep one gun per gun category.

A quick thing I want to mention is the inventory menu. Sorting items and scrolling through text boxes is done with the Page Up and Page Down buttons. It’s awkward and I don’t see an option to change this. I did manage to go into the input files and allow the mouse scroll wheel to scroll through text boxes but I still can’t change the sort function.

So what about the gameplay? So far I’m enjoying myself but I have some caveats. First off, I haven’t played with someone else in co-op yet and I picked the Siren class. Magic classes always appeal to me. The game essentially assigns you missions and you do them in whatever order you want (past the first 10 or so missions). A lot of them are collect these parts, kill this person or reach this area. Along the way, you’ll have to fight the wildlife or bandits in the area. Shooting things feels good. I especially like it when you shoot something in the head and get a critical hit or even better, when you kill them with a critical hit to the head and their head explodes.

However, the gameplay doesn’t really change and it gets repetitive rather quickly. However, it doesn’t get so repetitive that it doesn’t feel rewarding. You just need something to break up the same feeling. At this point, I’ll bring up that while the sound effects of the guns and the animals are well done, the music, or lack thereof, is boring. It doesn’t help the repetitive nature of the game. So I’ve been muting the game and listening to music and podcasts while playing and it’s helped things move along. I’ve played most of this game while listening to something else and I’ve been really enjoying myself doing that. It’s that kind of game.

One last thing I’ll mention is I did run into what I’m sure is a glitch. In the hideout where you get the key to Sledge’s place, I ran into one grunt who was clearly overpowered. I had already gotten the key and defeated the boss in the area and was just trying to get out of the area and there was this one henchmen that kept killing me over and over. He was the same level as me and I was able to take out the other henchmen in the area with little problem but this guy killed me over 20 times before I got lucky and killed him right before I died again. It hasn’t happened since so I’m deeming it a glitch.

So those are my thoughts so far. I’ll write a 2nd Impressions piece when I’ve played enough to write something substantial. Eventually, when I’ve played through the game and the DLC (maybe) 100%, I’ll write a comprehensive review of the game with a mind for not only the quality of the game but from the perspective of a completionist and a consumer.

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My Borderlands Review Experiment

I’m going to try something different. I’ve noticed that a lot of reviews of video games don’t go into enough detail as to why the game in question is fun or enjoyable. They talk about how the game excels or fails in certain aspect but not into great lengths. There’s rarely examples or personal experiences of the positive or negatives. I’ve also noticed that I have made the same mistakes in my reviews and I want to improve so I’m going to try something new. I want to be thorough with my next review, which I’ve decided will be Borderlands. So what I’m going to do is give my impressions of the game as I play through it with multiple preview pieces. This will not only (hopefully) give me feedback from the community on the game while I play it (and possibly help me with it) but also be a record of my thoughts as they possible change and form. It’ll be like my notes that can be interactive.

I’m also going to be playing the DLC and with completion aspirations so that I can see how much I can get out of the game. The reason for this is so I can not only give a normal review that’s detailed but also include sections looking at the game from a completionist perspective (or end game perspective) as well as from a consumer perspective. So essentially my review will tell you if the main game is fun, if it’s worth your time to do everything in the game, and how much it’s worth paying for. I’m going with Borderlands because I’ve always wanted to beat it but never have and this long game would benefit greatly from this kind of extensive coverage. I’ll be playing the PC version as I don’t have any of the DLC from the 360. So I’ll be posting a first first impressions pretty soon.

Now I want to hear from you. Let me know in the comments what you think of this idea. A great deal of this experiment would benefit greatly from feedback. Thanks for reading. Peace and love, gamers and players.

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Keeping Old or New Versions of Games

I don’t consider myself a collector. I like video games but not to the extent that I want every game of a platform whether I like them or not. What’s more is I don’t buy sealed copies of a game that would go on a shelf, never to be played. When I get a game, I plan on actually playing it, not making it a display piece. If I don’t like a game, I get rid of it. Because of this, I’ve been rethinking how I get games. Normally, I would keep any game that I liked but I’ve noticed there’s some games that despite liking I’m not going to play again. There’s two types that come to mind.

The first kind are upgrades. I have Street Fighter IV for the Xbox 360 but I also have Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition now. Despite the original having an ending gallery, something Arcade Edition doesn’t have, I never play the original anymore. I’ve come to the conclusion that I should get rid of the original game since I have the upgraded game. Same goes for Virtua Fighter 5 and Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown, despite the lack of the Quest mode in Final Showdown. I’ve gotten rid of the original Street Fighter IV and Virtua Fighter 5 but this got me thinking.

By this logic, I wouldn’t need ports of games I have on newer consoles. This is the second kind of game. For example, I have Super Mario World on my Wii U. Therefore, when I get a SNES (I want one but haven’t had one for awhile), I shouldn’t get it on there, despite it being the original. I have Ratchet & Clank 1 & 2 on both the PS2 and the PS3. I should get rid of my PS2 copies because the PS3 versions are the same games except in HD.

I think there’s some exceptions to this rule. I have both the Sega Saturn and Sega Genesis version of Sonic 3D Blast and although they are almost the same game, the method of getting Chaos Emeralds is somewhat but noticeably different. You can get two emeralds a stage in the Genesis version and only one in the Saturn. The special stages where you get the emerald are different in each versions. In this respect, I think the two games are different enough to justify owning both.

One aspect I’m trying to make a decision on is the same game on multiple consoles. One example is Borderlands 2. I have it on PS3 digitally and 360 on disc. I’m wondering if I should sell the 360 version and just play the PS3 version. I’m probably not going to play the game on both consoles. Should I get rid of one or keep them both? Should I take which version is better graphically and technically into consideration? I’ve played the 360 version already and have a character in the low level 10s where I haven’t touched the PS3 version. Should I consider that?

These are questions I’m not sure about and would like some input on. What are your thoughts on collecting games? Should I just have one copy of a game? What are the benefits of owning more than one copy on different platforms? What’s the benefit of playing Super Mario World on the SNES as oppose to the Wii U? What about something like Nights into Dreams on XBLA and PSN, where it’s an HD remake and has the original Saturn version? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think. Peace and Love, Gamers and Players!

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Colorwind Tried Skate–Frustration to 360 Flip

Last weekend and Monday, I started playing a game that’s been in my backlog for a long time. I used to own Skate about a year or two after it came out but I never sat down and actually gave it a fair shot. So I bought it when it was on sale on the Xbox Games Marketplace earlier this year and sat down and played it some last Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Before I continue, I want to make it clear that this is more of an impressions piece rather than a review because I haven’t completed the game.

What has always drawn me to Skate is the trick mechanics. Skate is a more realistic take on the skating sport, where a 360 flip over a sizable gap is awe inspiring. You use the right analog stick, in lieu of buttons, to do flip tricks and manuals. grinds are done by using the right stick to ollie and then lining up your board to the rail or ledge or what have you. Grab tricks are done with by holding the left or right trigger and manipulating the board with the right analog stick while in the air. Finally, acrobatic tricks like spins and backflips are done with the left analog stick while in the air. All of this is done pretty well and although I wouldn’t call it an intuitive control scheme, it makes a lot of sense.

However, the problems with Skate also begin with the control scheme. You do flips by holding either down or up on the right stick and flicking it in the opposite direction for different tricks. Go to the side a bit and you’ll get a kick flip or a heel flip. A quarter circle will result in a shovit. The problem with this is some tricks are done in ways that are too similar to other tricks. Being precise with your tricks is nearly impossible. For example, a 360 flip is done by holding down-left or down-right on the right stick, then rolling the stick to the down position and flicking the stick up-left or up-right. Most of the time, the game won’t register the beginning position of down-left or down-right and think you just did down and then up-left or up-right, resulting in a kick flip or heel flip instead of the 360 flip.

Another problem is the way you progress in the game. Despite having a more realistic approach to how you do tricks, progression features a familiar point system that in this context feels arbitrary. Most challenges have you doing certain tricks in a line, which is fine, but also a point goal that feels unrealistic. I understand having to do something for difficulty and preventing all challenges from being accomplish by doing a basic kick flip. However, this creates a difficulty that feels out of place in this game as well as adding unnecessary frustration to tasks that could be simple. The tricks are broken up into easy, medium and hard categories and that could have been used to differentiate the challenges and difficulty better. Instead of the challenge being “do a manual, a flip trick and reach 1,000 points”, it could be “do a manual and a medium flip trick”

However, none of this matters because when the game does ask you to do specific tricks, it’s often too specific. The precision the game does ask you to do is often too precise and it makes simple tasks frustrating. In fact, this was the reason I decided to stop playing the game. I got to a challenge that had me olling off a ramp onto a iron container and then jumping over to another iron container. I had to land on the first container in a manual, jump out of the manual over the gap while doing a flip trick in mid jump and finally landing into another manual. Sounds complicated but it’s actually not a big deal. However, I could complete it because of several problems.

First off, most of the time when I jumped the ramp onto the container, I ended up grinding the edge of the container instead. The issue is with the grind mechanic. Since you need to just approach a edge, ollie and line your board up in order to grind, that means grinding is situational. Therefore, it’s up to the game to decide whether you have met the requirements in order to grind and then make the action happen for you. Even though I meant to just land on the container, I met the requirements for grinding and therefore the game actually changed my jump trajectory slightly so I would grind instead.

Secondly, the ollie mechanic seems to either have a slight delay or the game is trying to predict a “falling” flip trick. The other problem I kept having was with the game not jumping over the gap and instead doing a flip trick while I fell off the container. Instead of jumping when I told the game to, it would wait a half second for me to fall off the container and then do a flip trick. The third and final problem is manualing. Sometimes, my player wouldn’t go into a manual despite me doing the command, which is hold up or down slightly on the left analog stick. The reason for this is because when you manual right after a jump, the amount you have to hold up or down the stick is different from if you were just on the ground.

The trick system is a cool system but it lacks the precision that you would probably have from pressing buttons. This makes for extremely frustrating gameplay. If I was going to complete that challenge, I would have to get some speed, hopefully jump high enough to get to the top of the container (sometimes you don’t ollie high enough for reasons I don’t know), hope the game doesn’t think I’m trying to grind, land in a manual that’s different from manualing on the floor, have enough speed to clear the gap, hope the game jumps when I tell it to, do the flip trick in midair, land in another manual, and then end the line. There’s way too much hoping in that, which means that if I were to complete it – and I’m pretty sure I could – it would just be because I got lucky.

I’m not saying Skate is a purely luck based game. Clearly skill is involved and I’m willing to admit that my skills in this game are not the best. However, to compare this to a more traditional sport, there’s a reason Basketball is played in a closed arena. The last thing we need is Lebron James missing a two pointer because the wind happened to blow at that moment and blew the ball off its original trajectory. Again, this is not a review so there will be no score but there won’t be a review of this game from me in the future because I do not plan to continue playing this game. I’ve got plenty of other games to play rather than one that frustrates me. However, since I made this game the main inspiration of my Understanding Gamer Rage post, I felt like I should talk about the game in depth.

Thanks for reading my thoughts on Skate. Feel free to leave a comment and follow me on Twitter (@Colorwind), as well as on my personal blog on Wordpress.

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