By Egge 9 Comments
I'm still a huge fan of Gearbox's ridiculously rewarding open world shooter/RPG hybrid Borderlands, and despite having played the game for more than 50 hours on the PS3 (including a New Game+ consecutive playthrough and all expansions except Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot and Claptrap's New Robot Revolution), it was really refreshing to check out the GOTY PC version on the new computer. The 1080 resolution gives the crisp, stylized visuals a nice boost while the super-smooth frame rate and mouse/keyboard controls benefit the shooter dimension of the gameplay immensely. Lining up headshots becomes noticeably easier on the PC, and thus improves the gameplay of precision-based classes like the Siren and Mordecai compared to the console versions.
The "shooter with RPG elements" has quickly become a cliche (encompassing everything from Modern Warfare to FEAR 3), but Borderlands is still the first-person action game that makes the most comprehensive and meaningful use of RPG mechanics. And it's all so bloody addictive that if Gearbox's stylized shooter was a full-fledged MMO (which, to be fair, it probably will become at some point) I would probably buy a lifetime subscription just to be able to return to the satisfying XP accumulation anytime I wanted...
There's no denying that Just Cause 2 is a derivative and quite shallow game with repetitive mission design and unnecessary difficulty spikes. However, this technologically ambitious open world action game from Swedish developer Avalanche Studios can still be an entertaining and deeply satisfying experience - provided that you share the game designers' idea of what constitutes "fun" in a GTA-style action game, that is.
Once I finally got around to buying and playing through Just Cause 2's main missions (Xbox 360 version) the game had already been out for quite a while but still managed to impress me with its huge and varied game world, jaw-droppingly amazing draw distance, advanced physics implementation and stunningly beautiful explosions. While the story is almost non-existent and the "campaign" frequently caused me a lot of frustration, Just Cause 2 got me hooked for a good 20 hours on the strength of its few core gameplay mechanics alone.
Much like the Saints Row series, Just Cause 2 ditches the character development and social satire of the GTA games in favor of a cheerfully anarchic, arcade-like take on the basic open world game design by putting the emphasis squarely on engaging the player in a ton of satisfyingly creative destruction. JC2's combination of grappling hooks and parachutes ensures virtually unmatched flexibility and maneuverability (while simultaneously violating every known law of Newtonian physics with reckless abandon), and the in-game rewards for constantly going berserk are just substantial enough to keep the player's motivation up.
Just Cause 2 pushes hardware limitations on the aging currentgen consoles in ways which must surely have involved a whole lot of clever programming and painstakingly detailed optimization, and the PC version benefits most noticeably from higher resolutions (great for those already stunning vistas), some wonderful new water effects and an even more solid frame rate.