Weekly Roundup 10/07/2012

Borderlands 2 kept on going this week, and we finished our first playthrough. In fact, we’ve almost finished our second playthrough (level 49 with only a few story missions left), which has gone significantly faster than the first. Quick aside: being able to throw down two turrets, each equipped with rockets and a bubble shield is pretty rad. Anyway, I’ve talked a lot about that game over the past two weeks and don’t have a ton to add to what I’ve already said, but I can essentially wrap up my thoughts on the game. Which is basically that I really like Borderlands 2. Now that I’ve seen pretty much everything it has to offer, I can safely say that my love of the first Borderlands wasn’t a one time thing. This franchise is simply turning out to be pretty darn awesome all around.

There's always room for more loot.

It’s an interesting thing too, because I traditionally don’t like loot driven games. I never liked Diablo II back in the day for example (though I like Diablo III pretty well), and yet the Borderlands franchise not only clicked with me immediately, but has shown some serious staying power. I’m not entirely sure why that is, but I have some guesses. The main one is that, as a first person shooter, Borderlands has more engaging action than the traditional click-fest that defines most loot driven games. The action feels very good too (Gearbox can make well playing shooters), and I generally enjoy the act of fighting things in Borderlands. I also really like the vibe of Borderlands’ world. It’s totally silly and stupid in pretty much every way, but it makes for a light, fun world that’s easy to spend dozens of hours in. The humor doesn’t necessarily always work, but it’s the kind of world that’s easy to just jump into without having to take things so seriously. It’s a relaxing way to hang out with some friends (I guess I should also stress that I’ve not played a single minute of this game by myself, and that playing with friends is a must for me). I also really dig the art style, and Borderlands 2 in particular has some nice environments. The skills are generally well done too, though Borderlands is not unique in that regard..

When it comes to me and loot games, the loot itself is never a hook; you won’t find someone who loathes grinding for randomly generated loot more than me. But the Borderlands series gives me a fun, light world to dive into, and backs it up with solid action and interesting classes and skills. It’s easy to ignore the loot and just have a good time running around, doing quests and hanging out with friends. That’s what I did for 200+ hours with the first game, and the second one has been just as fun so far. As explained over the past few weeks, I don’t think I like Borderlands 2 quite as much as the first game (I also explained that’s likely impossible), but it’s certainly close enough. It hits pretty much all the same highs, and I’ve been having a blast playing it. Anyway, I’m probably more or less done talking about it here, as I feel like I’ve covered everything by now and have pretty much seen everything in the game too. We’ll keep playing it though, especially once the DLC stars coming out. I’ll give updates as I feel like it, but that’s basically it for Borderlands 2. Great game.

Mark of the Ninja is an incredibly well designed game from top to bottom.

I also finished Mark of the Ninja this weekend, and that’s another fantastic game. I easily place it right alongside Batman: Arkham Asylum as having some of my favorite stealth mechanics in any game I’ve played, though unlike Batman this game is devoted entirely to stealth. That makes it more impressive in some ways, as it’s a fairly long game that manages to maintain a high level for its duration. The levels are smartly designed to remain fresh and creative, and the game does a good job at continuously introducing new mechanics throughout the game. The upgrade tree certainly has some interesting abilities, but most of it really does come from the level design. A small example: at some point the once sturdy platforms you’ve been using with no penalty all game long start crumbling once you stand on them. This changes the game in a simple, subtle way that keeps you on your toes. Consistently smart tweaks like this keep the game going strong all the way until the well timed end.

Really though, it’s the core mechanics I talked about last week that shine brightest. Mark of the Ninja is that rare stealth game that makes you feel vulnerable (thus giving you a reason to be stealthy) without feeling weak. You have a lot of smart, powerful tools at your fingertips to hunt down your foes, but once you’re exposed you’ll go down pretty quick. It’s a tough balance to pull off, but the game pretty much nails it. I also found the story to be pretty decent, even if it’s nothing super special, and the game both looks and sounds great. If I have any complaint at all, it’s of the few sections in the game that put you under time pressure. The basic mechanics are more geared towards slow, methodical play, and once you’re forced to scramble quickly things feel much less precise. Fortunately this didn’t happen but a few times, and those sections managed to be pretty short. It’s a super small blight on an otherwise stellar game, one that I would highly recommend to just about anyone. It’s easily one of the better games I’ve played in quite a while.

Resident Evil 6 may be a bummer, but at least there's no shortage of good games to play.

Anyway, the Fall is ramping up and a ton of games are starting to come out now. As a huge fan of Resident Evils 4 and 5 I was hoping Resident Evil 6 would be the first good release of the season... but I think we all saw how that turned out. I played the demo and didn’t like it, and combine that with the other (overwhelmingly negative) information available and I’d be a fool to shell out $60 for a 30+ hour game that looks as bad as it does. It’s a bummer the way that all turned out, but oh well. At least I won’t have to dwell on it long, because XCOM: Enemy Unknown is out next week, and that game is looking fantastic. I’m also keeping my eye on Dishonored, which seems like it has potential, and we’ll keep playing Borderlands 2 as well. Finally, I just started playing Tokyo Jungle this weekend; I couldn’t ignore such a ridiculous looking game. That’s going to do it for now though, until next time!

Currently playing: Borderlands 2, Tokyo Jungle

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Posted by MajorMitch

Borderlands 2 kept on going this week, and we finished our first playthrough. In fact, we’ve almost finished our second playthrough (level 49 with only a few story missions left), which has gone significantly faster than the first. Quick aside: being able to throw down two turrets, each equipped with rockets and a bubble shield is pretty rad. Anyway, I’ve talked a lot about that game over the past two weeks and don’t have a ton to add to what I’ve already said, but I can essentially wrap up my thoughts on the game. Which is basically that I really like Borderlands 2. Now that I’ve seen pretty much everything it has to offer, I can safely say that my love of the first Borderlands wasn’t a one time thing. This franchise is simply turning out to be pretty darn awesome all around.

There's always room for more loot.

It’s an interesting thing too, because I traditionally don’t like loot driven games. I never liked Diablo II back in the day for example (though I like Diablo III pretty well), and yet the Borderlands franchise not only clicked with me immediately, but has shown some serious staying power. I’m not entirely sure why that is, but I have some guesses. The main one is that, as a first person shooter, Borderlands has more engaging action than the traditional click-fest that defines most loot driven games. The action feels very good too (Gearbox can make well playing shooters), and I generally enjoy the act of fighting things in Borderlands. I also really like the vibe of Borderlands’ world. It’s totally silly and stupid in pretty much every way, but it makes for a light, fun world that’s easy to spend dozens of hours in. The humor doesn’t necessarily always work, but it’s the kind of world that’s easy to just jump into without having to take things so seriously. It’s a relaxing way to hang out with some friends (I guess I should also stress that I’ve not played a single minute of this game by myself, and that playing with friends is a must for me). I also really dig the art style, and Borderlands 2 in particular has some nice environments. The skills are generally well done too, though Borderlands is not unique in that regard..

When it comes to me and loot games, the loot itself is never a hook; you won’t find someone who loathes grinding for randomly generated loot more than me. But the Borderlands series gives me a fun, light world to dive into, and backs it up with solid action and interesting classes and skills. It’s easy to ignore the loot and just have a good time running around, doing quests and hanging out with friends. That’s what I did for 200+ hours with the first game, and the second one has been just as fun so far. As explained over the past few weeks, I don’t think I like Borderlands 2 quite as much as the first game (I also explained that’s likely impossible), but it’s certainly close enough. It hits pretty much all the same highs, and I’ve been having a blast playing it. Anyway, I’m probably more or less done talking about it here, as I feel like I’ve covered everything by now and have pretty much seen everything in the game too. We’ll keep playing it though, especially once the DLC stars coming out. I’ll give updates as I feel like it, but that’s basically it for Borderlands 2. Great game.

Mark of the Ninja is an incredibly well designed game from top to bottom.

I also finished Mark of the Ninja this weekend, and that’s another fantastic game. I easily place it right alongside Batman: Arkham Asylum as having some of my favorite stealth mechanics in any game I’ve played, though unlike Batman this game is devoted entirely to stealth. That makes it more impressive in some ways, as it’s a fairly long game that manages to maintain a high level for its duration. The levels are smartly designed to remain fresh and creative, and the game does a good job at continuously introducing new mechanics throughout the game. The upgrade tree certainly has some interesting abilities, but most of it really does come from the level design. A small example: at some point the once sturdy platforms you’ve been using with no penalty all game long start crumbling once you stand on them. This changes the game in a simple, subtle way that keeps you on your toes. Consistently smart tweaks like this keep the game going strong all the way until the well timed end.

Really though, it’s the core mechanics I talked about last week that shine brightest. Mark of the Ninja is that rare stealth game that makes you feel vulnerable (thus giving you a reason to be stealthy) without feeling weak. You have a lot of smart, powerful tools at your fingertips to hunt down your foes, but once you’re exposed you’ll go down pretty quick. It’s a tough balance to pull off, but the game pretty much nails it. I also found the story to be pretty decent, even if it’s nothing super special, and the game both looks and sounds great. If I have any complaint at all, it’s of the few sections in the game that put you under time pressure. The basic mechanics are more geared towards slow, methodical play, and once you’re forced to scramble quickly things feel much less precise. Fortunately this didn’t happen but a few times, and those sections managed to be pretty short. It’s a super small blight on an otherwise stellar game, one that I would highly recommend to just about anyone. It’s easily one of the better games I’ve played in quite a while.

Resident Evil 6 may be a bummer, but at least there's no shortage of good games to play.

Anyway, the Fall is ramping up and a ton of games are starting to come out now. As a huge fan of Resident Evils 4 and 5 I was hoping Resident Evil 6 would be the first good release of the season... but I think we all saw how that turned out. I played the demo and didn’t like it, and combine that with the other (overwhelmingly negative) information available and I’d be a fool to shell out $60 for a 30+ hour game that looks as bad as it does. It’s a bummer the way that all turned out, but oh well. At least I won’t have to dwell on it long, because XCOM: Enemy Unknown is out next week, and that game is looking fantastic. I’m also keeping my eye on Dishonored, which seems like it has potential, and we’ll keep playing Borderlands 2 as well. Finally, I just started playing Tokyo Jungle this weekend; I couldn’t ignore such a ridiculous looking game. That’s going to do it for now though, until next time!

Currently playing: Borderlands 2, Tokyo Jungle

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

Having spent a great deal of time both by myself and partnering with friends in Borderlands 2, I can safely say that you're right - teaming up is the way to go.

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Posted by MajorMitch

@Sparky_Buzzsaw: I learned long ago (the hard way) that I absolutely hate these kinds of games if I play them by myself, and firmly decided that I'll either play them with friends or just not play them at all. Fortunately I've always had people to play with, and have loved both Borderlands games as a result :)