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DogCostume: Borderlands 2, Battlefield 3, Torchlight II & more

I was going to write a serious, relevant title for this blog, but when I clicked on the title field, the only suggestion that came up was "DogCostume". No spaces, with capital-C-Costume. When did I ever write anything about dogs, or costumes? Why would my computer think that would be something I'd want to write? I have so many questions about how and why and very close to zero answers.

Anyways, the last few months have been interesting in gaming. I injured myself at work and was stuck at home for much of July and all of August, and I managed to rack up more than 80 hours of a wonderful free-to-play game called Blacklight: Retribution. The Steam store page for it attributes the following quote to a Romanian site and although I couldn't actually find the citation in the original article, I'm inclined to agree with it.

"The matter is simple – the game is free to play and, if you take my word for it, an excellent shooter. In a perfect world, it would knock the CoD series on its ass."

Everything in Blacklight just feels right. The shooting is perfect, the action well-paced, and although by this point they're just using the term "beta" to cover their asses whenever the game glitches, it still feels like a full game, and it looks amazing. It even uses DirectX 11, which ain't too shabby for a free-to-play game.

Yes, that is me in first with 21 kills and 3 deaths. Look for me online -- CAPlugsEC32
Yes, that is me in first with 21 kills and 3 deaths. Look for me online -- CAPlugsEC32

The gun customization options are totally nuts, too. If you find your assault rifle isn't quite accurate enough, you can change a few parts around and make it so. Although most of the "pros" tend to just go for max damage, I've seen quite a few people dominate with builds geared towards stealth, range, suppression, or accuracy. It also helps that every gun template feels very unique.

Diablo III also came out sometime a while ago. It was a disappointment. Who thought not allowing the player to build their own character was a good idea? Who thought Inferno mode would actually be fun? I have few friends who actually played anything past the second difficulty. Oh well. At least one buddy found a ring worth over $300 real-world-dollars. Too bad he didn't think to sell it for real money and instead is now sitting on millions and millions of gold coins.

It's a good thing D3 sucked though, since it made talking my friends into pooling money for a Torchlight II 4-pack that much easier. Though I never finished the original (instead of playing through end-to-end once, I got about a quarter of the way with the fighter, halfway with the rogue, and a few floors from the very end with the mage), I loved it to bits. Until TL2 came out, it was my favourite action-RPG (yes, I even like it better than Diablo II, at least solo). One of my buddies was really impressed when I told him he could send his pet back to town not only to sell things, but to buy potions as well.

One of the greatest design choices in TL2 is to give the player access to higher-level equipment right away. I was level 6 and being regularly fed level 10+ gear. The gear also has alternative stat requirements that can be used to bypass the level requirements, allowing you to wear that sick level 15 helmet at level 10 as long as you meet the strength or dexterity requirement. Coupled with how the game doesn't force you into one class of weapon, it really opens the game up in a way that D3 was very closed. It keeps you excited about the loot that's coming your way.

Unfortunately, I just haven't had the time to co-ordinate game time with my friends. Just like Torchlight II, Borderlands 2 has had less than 10 hours of play so far, even though I've had it since launch. The game feels great, though. I played all of the original and dabbled in the DLC (the only one I really played to the end was Dr. Ned), and Borderlands 2 is more of a good thing. If it ain't broke, don't fix it right? I've also been holding off on the game because my GTX 550 Ti is off being repaired (tip: if you don't have the best airflow in your case, don't buy a video card with a cheap fan) and I'm stuck with my trusty old Radeon 3850 from 2006. I'm honestly surprised how well it runs -- when I need to replace the 550, I'm definitely going back to ATI.

Finally, just two days ago I finally got Battlefield 3 (which I also have to run on the lowest settings on the Radeon -- come on, ZOTAC, ship me my card back!) which is just as much fun as Blacklight without being as tight or satisfying to play. The inaccuracy of the guns actually adds to the realism: even the snipers don't shoot perfectly straight. Once I get a steadier framerate, I think I'll get better, but even now I'm doing alright in multiplayer and having a blast. The "Premium Edition" is also totally worth it: I have more content than I know what to do with.

And if you're like me and you were holding off on BF3 because you loved Bad Company 2 and can't imagine how it would get better, go pick up 3. It really is better, but I can't really tell why. Everything just moves and feels a little smoother.

I'm also eagerly awaiting X-COM Enemy Unknown and Dishonored, both of which launch tomorrow (yikes! I don't have the money to buy them!). For all the UFO games launched since 1993, the original was still the most fun for me. Either that, or the fan-made remake that came out some five years ago -- anyone else remember that one?