Category Archives: first-person shooter

2012 Game Review Haiku, #27 – Borderlands 2

Vault Hunters wanted
Handsome Jack wants ’em all dead
Same story, new guns

For all the games I complete in 2012, instead of wasting time writing a review made up of points and thoughts I’ve probably already expressed here in various posts at Grinding Down, I’m instead just going to write a haiku about it. So there.

Back to Pandora in Borderlands 2

Alas, because I have a day-job and get sleepy right around 11:55, I did not make it to the midnight release of Borderlands 2 at my local GameStop, the one where I pre-ordered from. So, I went after work, which only made the day seem longer, and got lightly berated by the employee behind the counter. He said, and I quote, “Looks like you’re about 20 levels behind everyone now.” Couldn’t deny it, but that’s okay–I’ve got the weekend to catch up with the world, but it really doesn’t matter too much considering I am going at it solo instead of co-operatively.

Borderlands 2, from what I’ve experienced so far, is more Borderlands. Hence the Internet absolutely nailing it by dubbing Gearbox’s latest bonerfart… Morderlands 2. I fully support the name and will continue to do so until the game turns itself upside-down and shows me something truly original. As is, it’s more of the same, which is a conflicting emotion, as I absolutely loved–with a few caveats–the original title. Heck, I was still playing that thang all the way up to only a few weeks ago, quitting at Level 61 with no chance of slaying Crawmerax the Invincible on my own. And more of the same thing should never be a problem, especially when it fixes a few of those previously highlighted caveats, but one does have to wonder if this sequel’s entire focus was on fixing the bad and keeping everything else the same instead of enhancing it tenfold.

Anyways, in Borderlands 2, you get to control one of four new characters who are following in the footsteps of the original foursome. It’s five years after the anti-climatic events of the original game, with a man named Handsome Jack trying to steal the fame and glory, claiming he’s the one who originally opened the Vault. Besides taking over the Hyperion Corporation and proclaiming himself the Dictator of Pandora, he also left you out in the snowy landscape to die. Thankfully, you didn’t die, and you’re out for revenge, as well as to complete numerous side quests.

As Borderlands 2 came closer to release, something inside me changed. I flipped. I went from soldier to siren. In the original game, I played only as Roland the Soldier, using his turret to both deal damage and heal me immensely. Okay, okay–I tried the other three classes long enough to get their specific Achievements, but that was it. But I was perusing the online skill trees for the new characters, and something about Phaselocking seemed like a lot of fun. So, I’m Maya, and I’m learning how to play a little differently, as I always relied on a tossed turret to save the day. Now I need to Phaselock tough enemies, kill them fast, and regen health until my power refreshes. Pistols and SMGs are my mainstays currently.

Things I’m loving about Borderlands 2 right now are how dynamic and fluid the mission log updates itself on your HUD, with completed objectives being checked off and swooshed out of the way for whatever comes next. Picking up ammo and money automatically is pure genius and should have been there from the get go, but it doesn’t seem to always work. Comparing weapons is easier, but still not perfect for me and can be a little confusing managing one’s inventory at times. Also, once you get to Sanctuary, you get a bank (previously only added in via DLC) to store weapons you aren’t ready to sell.

Hit Level 10 recently while helping the Firehawk out of a bad situation. Got three holdable weapon slots unlocked, as well as extra room in the backpack. It’s all following in the same path as the original game, more or less. And here are a few Achievements unlocked so far that I dig:

New in Town (20G): Completed the mission “Plan B”

Better Than You Were (10G): Reached level 10

Phased and Confused (20G): Phaselocked 100 enemies

Tribute to a Vault Hunter (15G): Got an item from Michael Mamaril

That final Achievement listed above has a really sad, but touching story to it, making me appreciate just how much Gearbox, as a company, appreciates us, the gamers. You can learn more about Michael’s story here.

Okay. Those are my early impressions, and I’m sure I’ll be back for mid impressions and late impressions at some point. It’s that whole “one more quest” aspect that can’t keep me away despite it all being so familiar.

Check out my sweet Claptrap Bobblehead collection

As you’ll recall, mostly because I only posted about it one week ago, I’m back in Borderlands for a bit. At least until Borderlands 2 comes out, and then I will never return to where it all began because…that’s just how it goes. I don’t know. The shinier and newer toy is always more appealing.

Anyways, I’m not mindlessly running around blasting skags in the mouth. I do have a few goals. None require obtaining more killer weapons; I’m pretty set there. First, I’m trying to hit level 61, and it’s slow-going, but I’m creeping up towards level 58 at the moment. Second, I’m working on playing through the Secret Armory of General Knoxx DLC of a second time. Third, collecting all those annoying collectibles that drop from Claptrap enemies, such as oil cans, bobbleheads, and pizza slices. That last goal has required some serious grinding in the form of multiple boss runs to take on the MINAC, a huge, robotic death-machine capable of releasing endless amounts of Claptraps to shoot for parts, but only after you take out all of its turrets. Most drop gears and motherboards, but a few leave behind the good stuff. Still, I swear I’ve fought that dang thing at least six or seven times now, to the point that it has become extremely tedious, especially when I walk away with only one, two, or three desired collectibles, but whatever. Grinding down, y’know.

Well, just as I picked up what I believed to be my eleventh Claptrap bobblehead after scouring the landscape post-MINAC fight and reached for my pen and paper to mark it down, this beautiful thing pinged:

Bobble-Trap (10G): Collected 15 Claptrap bobbleheads

Oh…cool. I guess at some point before I actually began writing down when I found a collectible in this game that won’t just track these things for me…I found some collectibles. I just don’t really remember picking up four other bobbleheads, but that’s memory for you–sometimes it’s strong, and sometimes it is long in the years.

And so, if my notes are correct and I don’t actually have more than I currently believe I do, I need 13 more oil cans and six more slices of pizza to unlock the other two collectible-based Achievements for the Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution DLC. Isn’t that exciting? You don’t have to answer all at once. I’ll get there, though I think I’ll move back to my other goal of getting through General Knoxx’s armory for a second time, now on a tougher playthrough. The enemies were grueling at level 54 and level 55, but now I’m sitting cool at level 57 and feeling much more confident in my shooting skills. This is also the place to gain some good EXP, and the higher I get, the less times I have to use Second Wind to slink my way through a fight. Plus, always in the back of my mind, that giant crab monster, the one associated with a quest called You. Will. Die. Mm-hmm…

If you love corridors, you’ll love Rage’s final mission

Admittedly, I never payed too much attention to the story in Rage. Once I saw that Rage was not another take on Fallout 3 or even Borderlands, and that it was much more about shooting mutants and racing, I just kind of zoned out, played the game in short bursts, focusing simply on completing missions, which meant going to X, shooting enemies until enemies stopped running at me with guns locked and loaded, finding the sweet spot, and then doubling back to whatever town was nearby to turn in the quest. Once I got to the sewers, which meant the second disc on the Xbox 360, I gave up trying to find all the recipes, cards, race trophies, and jump ramps. The only direction was forward, with blinders on.

And so, just last weekend, I sat down to play Rage some more, intending to finish up another mission or two. Y’know, inch my way on. I was still in Subway Town, sleuthing by the locals and speaking in whispers with my team of rebels hiding even further down below the sewers. They had a plan to attack Capital Prime and unearth all the other buried Arks in the wasteland. Or maybe the world. I remember seeing a global map at some point. But first, I had to take out the defenses on the Authority Bridge, which was simply done. After that, it’s off to Capital Prime to start the revolution. Here’s how rebel team leader John Marshall tells me before I head out:

This is it, what we’ve been planning for so many years. Now, we hit the Authority where it hurts.

Take this Code-Cipher. You’ll be able to access any Personnel Entrance near Capital Prime’s main gate. Be careful, it will be heavily guarded. Once inside get to the Ark Control Center, and Upload the data from your ID Drive. That will trigger the emergence of the remaining Arks.

Mankind’s future depends on you now. God speed soldier.

Upon re-reading the mission text, yeah, it sure sounds like this could be the final mission, but it also seems like the “kick to the groin” mission, the swift attack before the actual smackdown, and then we get one last push at defeating the mysterious and shadow-wreathed Authority. Surely we’ll navigate a complex city structure and then have to take down some big baddie akin to that boss battle earlier in Rage, where scope got served and a monster the size of a building crumbled and bled through the walls and dramatically changed navigation. I mean, someone has to be telling these Authority goons what to do–it has been strange to not have a clear antagonist all this time. General Joe M. Authority is my guess.

Nope. Instead, we get narrow corridors. Filled with Mutants and Enforcers, which are easy to deal with since you receive basically the BFG before the mission starts, which obliterates anything alive. And then more corridors. More Mutants and Enforcers. You begin to suspect copy/pasting is at work. I mean, you hear the name Capital Prime, and one immediately imagines a futuristic and bustling city-state, a place where people live and work and get things done. Not just a bunch of hallways that all look the same. Ugh. Eventually you get to ride a three-tiered elevator ride, with each stop bringing out a wave of mutants to shoot and a button to press. Touch that third button, and the game is over. Cue badly rendered cutscene and confusion. That’s it. Back to the main menu screen select. It’s over fast and unexpected and strangely without any kind of final boss. I honestly emitted the following words after pushing that third button, and please note that I was completely alone at the time: “Wait, what?”

So, a disappointing close to a pretty mediocre first-person shooter with decent mini-games. I’m curious to see if there will be a Rage 2, as the non-ending implies more things are happening, what with every Ark across the globe turning on and resurfacing, but I’m not holding out much hope.

Back to Borderlands for a little bit

Well, since beating Rage last weekend, I’ve been kind of meh about anything new to play on the ol’ Xbox 360. The truth is, I still have several incompleted games in my collection that I should try to beat one day–Eternal Sonata, Game of Thrones, Grand Theft Auto IV, Nier, Quarrel–but none of those look the least bit desirable right now. Especially the newest of them all: Game of Thrones. Sorry, not even a hardcore fanboy can enjoy that mess, though I will at some point soon talk about why it would probably should’ve sank fast and furiously during the Battle of Blackwater.

Recently, I visited my local GameStop to pick up a new wired Xbox 360 controller as my previous one was on the brink of failure, and even then, with shelves full of names and images and discounted prices, nothing jumped out. Well, maybe Dragon’s Dogma and The Witcher 2, but those are still a little too pricey for me. I’d call this a summer slump, but the truth is I do have some stuff to play, but it’s mostly on my laptop thanks to the Steam Summer Sale or on my Nintendo 3DS.

I did, however, pre-order Borderlands 2, which then gave me the itch to return to the 2009 original title. Turns out, there was still more to do with my Playthrough 2 character. Like collect items in that Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution DLC and finish missions and kill some giant crab in The Secret Armory of General Knoxx DLC and hit level 61 and then beyond and even more things. But first…a patch to download! This patch gave me hope that the drop rates for oil cans, bobbleheads, pizza slices, and so on got fixed, because in its original form it was nearly impossible to find any of those items. And yes, it seems to be better, but still not great. Since the game doesn’t keep track of what you pick up as you crawl upwards toward those Achievements, I kept track. Check out this blurry photo:

Sorry, my camera phone is pretty lackluster. I will reproduce it below:

  • Oil Cans (need 25): 4 so far
  • Bobbleheads (need 15): 5 so far
  • Panties (need 3): 3 found, completed
  • Fish in a Bag (need 5): 5 found, completed
  • Pizza Slices (need 15): 0 so far

And that’s after playing for a few hours and taking on the MINAC twice. So yeah, it’s still pretty slow. The barren wasteland of pizza slices has me worried the most though, considering I’ve yet to see even a single slice drop off a Claptrap. But I’ll keep trying because, if anything, it’s at least more experience points towards a new level. I’ve read some tricks online about hiding from the MINAC so that it keeps producing Claptraps and then runs them over, endlessly producing loot. Will have to try that at some point, but I’ve moved over to running through the Robot Revolution DLC a second time on my Playthrough 2, which is at least providing a challenge for my LV 56 soldier. Also, I got taken for a ride:

Sucker born every minute (10G): Paid for a worthless tour of the world’s largest bullet

Well, that was $8,000,000 spent on an Achievement. Which is fine, really, as I don’t need a lot of money at this point as I have a ton of weapons and love, and I never see anything in the shop worth buying. Though I am still keeping my eye out for a better shield.

So, I’m back in Borderlands, at least for a little bit. Borderlands 2 comes out in the middle of next month, and I’m pretty excited for it. The pre-order bonus comes with some special guns and access to a new class, but I predict I’ll be rolling with the soldier again, as I love that turret. It is like having another soldier on the field, which is vital to me, since I pretty much play these co-op ready games solo.

2012 Game Review Haiku, #21 – Rage

Another wasteland
Shoot mutants, drive, load textures
Ends before it starts

For all the games I complete in 2012, instead of wasting time writing a review made up of points and thoughts I’ve probably already expressed here in various posts at Grinding Down, I’m instead just going to write a haiku about it. So there.

The highs and lows of playing through Deus Ex: Human Revolution a second time

Clearly, I forgot to buy an intelligence-at-reading-menu-options augmentation while playing through Deus Ex: Human Revolution for a second time on its hardest difficulty. Because I got through it, struggling in a several sections, but otherwise racking up Praxis Points and bullets for my silenced Machine Pistol with ease and blasting down anybody that got in the way. Because I beat it using a mix of stealth and sniping  and straight up shooting and watched the credits roll and waited patiently for that bloop that would confirm I did it, that I mastered a game on its most straining setting, from beginning to end. But it never popped. The one for viewing all the different endings did though. Confused, I went back to my last save to check my option settings, and there I discovered that no, in fact, I was playing on medium difficulty…the whole time.

::frustratingly funny facepalm::

But man, it sure felt like a harder difficulty than that.

If you’ll recall, my first playthrough of Adam Jensen’s journey to living a new life and stopping…whatever did not go smoothly. With a battle plan of full-on stealth, I struggled to take down two of the three main bosses, sadly learned that I goofed up a non-lethal playthrough by rewiring a robot to kill enemy guards, and then ran into a nasty door glitch. I decided long ago that I’d play it all again, this time throwing quietness to the wind and shooting down dudes when it seemed like a quicker and simpler solution. The actual doing of this took longer than I expected, but we’re in the dry season currently for exciting videogames, and so I found some time recently over the last two weekends to plug away at this.

It went much easier the second time around, as well as quicker. I no longer had to wait and watch a guard until he turned his body ever so slightly to slip by him; this time around, I merely poked my head out, aimed with a silenced weapon, and dinged him in his dome. Sometimes I’d drag the body away. Sometimes I wouldn’t. Fearless, this Jensen he be. The boss battles were a snap thanks to Typhoon ammo and a ton of augmentations I missed the first time around, and I only had a hard time in certain rooms full of dudes where ammo was scarce and enemy count was high. It did seem like Jensen lost health super fast until I upgraded his skin perks, and that’s probably why I felt like I was playing on the hardest difficulty the whole time. Hacking emails and doors is still a strangely fun minigame, if a bit daunting at first. Towards the end though you’re breaking into level 5 rooms and emails like a pro, which does feel rewarding in its own way.

Anyways, here’s a few of the Achievements I unlocked on my second go in Deus Ex: Human Revolution that I’m pretty pleased with, especially considering that I’m probably never going back for a third time:

Deus Ex Machina (50G): Experience all the different endings that Deus Ex: Human Revolution has to offer.

Good Soul (15G): Against all odds, you saved Faridah Malik’s life.

Lucky Guess (10G): Next time, Jacob better use a more complex code to arm his bombs.

I only wish that I had been able to get either one of the really hard Achievements (beat the game with no kills, beat the game on its hardest difficulty, or beat the game without setting off an alarm) to show off my mad Deus Ex skills. I guess all I’m doing now is showing my lack of ’em. But you won’t tell anyone, right? ::tosses a gas grenade:: Right?

2012 Game Review Haiku, #11 – Bulletstorm

Buffoonish skillshots
Anti-climatic ending
No Bulletstorm 2

For all the games I complete in 2012, instead of wasting time writing a review made up of points and thoughts I’ve probably already expressed here in various posts at Grinding Down, I’m instead just going to write a haiku about it. So there.

Turning over a new leash with Bulletstorm

Let me just get this out there, so y’all understand that when you see me crawling out of an alley, begging for money and smelling worse than the rotten remains of a Stygia mutant previously eviscerated by the “Rear Entry” skillshot, it’s because of this: Steam sales. They will be my undoing, as just about anything heavily discounted suddenly becomes interesting in front of my eyes. And I do mean anything.

Take, for instance, the crude and callous first-person shooter Bulletstorm. I absolutely disliked the demo, ultimately saying this:

Bulletstorm is irrefutably juvenile, and the demo is all I probably needed to experience…ever. And for fun’s sake, here’s some phrases used affectionately during the demo to hit home their target audience: pasty, bean bag, butt hole, and, the new cult favorite, dick tits.

Right. So, why then did I buy a copy of the game over the weekend for the PC? Why have I been unlocking a lot of Achievements in rapid succession? Why am I–and this is almost troubling to admit–having fun kicking mutants into slow motion and then shooting them in half? Well, because Steam was selling it for $5.00. And at that kind of price, Bulletstorm is a blast.

At its boyish heart, Bulletstorm‘s story is about revenge gone wrong. Grayson Hunt is looking to kick his former commanding officer General Sarrano of the Confederation of Planets in his nuts and then shoot him in the head. This is because Sarrano used Hunt and his fellow friends to assassinate innocent people by telling them they were corrupt evildoers. Unfortunately, trying to ram Sarrano’s spaceship with Hunt’s spaceship brought both vessels down on the planet Stygia, which is infested with mutants and monsters. But Hunt’s no quitter, and so he’s crawling across the planet’s dangerous grounds in search of the man that made him mad. He is helped by Ishi, who is now part android, and Trishka, a former member of the elite squad Final Echo.

Gameplay involves moving forward through a level and racking up points by using creative kills against the many, many mutants that want to ruin your very existence. Headshots are boring, and so one must look for other ways to create mayhem: tossing an enemy of a cliff, dropping them on some spikes, shooting them in half, setting them on fire, and so on. Points let you buy ammo and upgrade weapons, so the more creative you are, the stronger your guns will be, which in turn let you get even crazier. It’s a system that works and reminds me of the way weapons upgraded in Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal. You also use a hi-tech leash that can grab objects and throw them around though I prefer sliding into enemies and then kicking them off ledges the most–really helps conserve precious ammo. Occasionally, gameplay gets mixed up, with Hunt controlling a huge, Godzilla-like monster or trying to just escape a section of the level under a time limit; otherwise, it’s still just a lot of shooting.

Also, what’s kind of nice is that, unknowingly, Bulletstorm on Steam counts as a Game for Windows Live thing, meaning I can play it logged in as PaulyAulyWog and earn Achievements for my actual Gamerscore. Think this is my first GFWL experience, and it’s all good in the skillshotty neighborhood. Here’s a few that I unlocked that are not tied to completing story chapters:

Master of Disaster (40G): Earn 2000 points or more at once

Disco Inferno (10G): Kill all enemies without leaving the dance floor in the city outskirts

No Man Left Behind (20G): Kill all enemies while escaping from the collapsed building

Currently, I’m somewhere in Act 4. Second chapter? Third? Don’t really know what that means in comparison to the overall game, but it feels like midway through. Maybe even more than that. I’m sure it won’t take long to finish up, as we’re definitely getting closer to wherever Sarrano is hiding. Again, for $5.00, this is a good time; however, if I had bought Bulletstorm at full price on Day One…I would definitely feel otherwise. And there you go.

Achievements of the Week – The Jetpacker Leftovers from ytiC daeD Edition

Another week has come and gone, and I am here again, whipped into action and berated by the higher beings, to share some of my favorite Achievements from the last seven days with y’all. Just two games get the special attention this time around, but I am by my lonesome this week–not counting cats–as Tara is dog-sitting. Also, I am just about to finish up my 31 Lovingly Bad Love Comics challenge, which means…uh, more free time? I suspect I’ll play a bit of this and that over the next two days.

For now, these things.

From Rage…

Just a Flesh Wound (15G): Complete the final round of 5 Finger Filet

This is probably the hardest minigame in Rage. Remember when, bored in middle school, you would place your hand on your desk, spread those digits, and try to stab the spaces between with your pencil as fast as you could? 5 Finger Filet is that, but with a really sharp knife. The first four rounds are scripted and easy to memorize, but the fifth and final round is always random, always fast, and likes to put hit targets right next to each other, which one’s brain might not be able to see before it is too late. The best advice I can offer for those Ark survivors going after this is to…just relax. Don’t overthink it, and you’ll find yourself naturally stabbing at your hand without hitting a single finger in no time.

Jetpacker (20G): Kill an Authority Enforcer during Jetpack descent

ytiC daeD (10G): Complete Dead City Reverse in the Campaign

Hee, I like this one’s name. Maybe too much.

From Jurassic Park: The Game…

I mused a bit already about my early experience with returning to Isla Nublar, which already limelighted a few Achievements. Haven’t gotten to play any more yet, but here’s another one that is full of spoilers for Nedry fans everywhere:

Leftovers (10G): Found Nedry’s ID badge.