Wednesday, April 27

Hunting Trip

I wasn't the biggest fan of Borderlands when it dropped in 2009. I often referred to it as Fallout Too on account to the common wasteland setting, and general lack of engaging NPCs (non-player characters for the uninitiated). It wasn't a complete bust: the game featured solid drop-in co-operative play, and collecting and fencing loot offered the occasional thrill. Ultimately, after about ten hours of play, I couldn't find the compulsion to follow the main quest through to its end. 

It did seem however, that I was alone in my lack of dedication to this cel-shaded RPG/FPS hybrid. My brother and one of his best mates played through the retail product and all of the game's meaty downloadable expansions, often sharing tales of massive loot drops and tense encounters with some of the more-diabolical creatures found across Pandora. Another close mate - who had for long eschewed his gaming habits - had an Achievement list that suggested that he may have once again found the resolve to utilise a controller for hours at a time.

What was I missing? I couldn't understand what made this release so addictive, even seemingly essential. Thankfully, there were plenty of high-quality titles to distract me from this quandary across the latter part of 2009 and the year after. I couldn't spare much time to consider Borderlands with the likes of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Just Cause 2, Red Dead Redemption, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Halo: Reach peppering the release calendar (let's not forget that I had a wedding to plan as well).

2011 however has allowed for thoughts of skag-filled expanses to re-enter my psyche. With the exception of possibly Bulletstorm, the Gears of War 3 beta has been the only essential gaming experience of the year. That coupled with the ridiculous bargain that was Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition for less than ten dollars on Steam (during the 2K Games sale about two weeks ago) has afforded me the chance to reassess my position.

So this long weekend, separated from my Xbox 360, yet ironically, re-united with some of my closest flesh-and-blood friends tasked me with finding alternate means of sinking time between barbecues, catch-ups and scheduled meal times. Borderlands on my capable laptop fit the bill fairly nicely (there was also a trip the local half court, but my field goal percentage was laughable, and barely worth mentioning).

It was the awkward nerd equivalent of a hunting trip.

I learned a lot about the wilds of Pandora, the diets of it's faunae (seriously, does every third skag start the day with a hearty course of handgun?) and laughably, myself. I learned that I'm still not quite over my Achievement addiction. I learned that scarlet red scarves are matched perfectly by a deployable auto turret with a healing buff. I was also forced to overcome my overbearing tendency to choose an avatar that looks somewhat like me. Not one of the four selectable characters in Borderlands looks anything like me, so I chose the character whose skill set matches my run-and-gun sensibilities. Roland is a much better fit than Mordecai (whom I selected for my initial playthrough): he has the capacity to absorb some damage, and even recover health with the appropriate choice of abilities. I'm dying a lot less, and genuinely enjoying my time with the game. It may take me some time - especially with the better part of three weeks remaining to play the GoW 3 beta - but I'm pretty confident that I can play this game through to completion, expansions included. 

After work today, it'll be nose back to the beta grindstone. I'm to get back amongst the COG/Locust fray, and only slightly gutted that I missed out on the Easter madness that was firefights with bunny hats.

How did you guys enjoy the Easter long weekend? Is anybody picking up Portal 2 on the PS3 or PC? I'm looking for a buddy to join me on the co-operative campaign (that is of course, assuming that the Playstation Network is restored to working order before the next long weekend).

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