The holiday season is fast approaching, and with the release of Gearbox’s Borderlands 2 last Tuesday, the Fall gaming season is fully upon us. With only a week’s worth of semi-casual gaming under my belt, I’m not ready to tender my full review of the game. And with a wealth of reviews already available, I will not waste your time with a half-assed “quickie” review. Still, there are enough talking points to warrant a “first impressions” post, so here we go.
Borderlands 2 seems to be selling well. Very well. Some projections pin the game’s final sales at over 3 million copies. That’s great. It also surprises me a bit. The first Borderlands was somewhat of a surprise success. I didn’t realize how many people became rabid fans until the Borderlands 2 hype started. Still, it felt like the game had a healthy but niche group of fans while lacking a broader appeal to the general gaming audience. When we visited PAX East early this year, I noticed a stark contrast between those of us foaming at the mouth to see the in-development sequel, and the harsh indifference from gamers who did not enjoy or had not played the original.
Despite the booth’s insanely long lines, it felt there were more of the later than the former.
I’m enjoying Borderlands 2 so far, but I can’t help but wonder if the incredible sales figures are as much a result of the team’s brilliant marketing as they are a testament to the game itself. Gearbox and 2KGames have proven that they know exactly what Borderlands is and what the game’s strongest assets are. Apparently marketing and a great relationship with your community are important. Who knew? (Quick, send a memo to Nintendo.)
To name a few examples; I’ve had problems with poor hit detection in both the gun-play and character movement, I’ve had my character become stuck in geometry to the point of requiring a restart of the game, and the missions are often obnoxiously uninspired.
At this point, nothing has been so horrendous as to make me dislike the game. But many of them are grating enough to at least affect the score. Of course, some reviews do seem to be taking these things into account. But there’s been enough nearly-perfect scores to at least pique my interest.
I always find it hypocritical when we ignore things in games we like, then completely tear apart games that we don’t have the same attachment to when they commit the same mistakes. On a side note, every time I’m forced to type any form of the word ‘hypocrisy,’ I can’t help but think of hippopotamuses. Hippos make me smile.
Yet I still can’t find a halfway decent rifle! Seriously, I’m still using some random, “white” rifle I found prior to level 10!
Okay, that’s a lie. I recently upgraded to a “white” rifle I found in a vending machine that has marginally better stats. Compared to all the crazy-ass pistols, shotguns, and sub-machine guns I’ve found, I just can’t seem to find a damn rifle. Hopefully things will sway the other way by the end of the game, and I’ll be rocking a backpack full of electric-corrosive, large magazined, fully-automatic death-sticks that fire sharks Or something. For now I’ll just keep yelling, “Pew pew” as I eviscerate bandits with some dinky little handgun . . . that shoots bullets that bore through their heathen flesh then catch them on fire.
The last time I talked to Ben, he seemed more than a bit disenchanted with his character, Zero. It’s entirely possible that between the two of us we picked the two weakest characters. Ben and I are kind of known for making bad decisions. I just wish I was as excited about my player as I am about everyone else scattered across the face of Pandora.
I’d really love it if I could play someone as brilliantly ass-hole as Handsome Jack. They should have named him “Awesome Jack.” On second thought, that sounds like something you’d pay extra for at a sleazy Vegas bordello.
So after seven days, I’m still playing the game. That’s actually a pretty good endorsement given my epically short attention span. I actually want to turn my Xbox on, which is another good endorsement given my epic laziness even when only doing virtual things. Seriously, doing stuff sucks. But doing stuff in Borderlands 2 seems to suck less than most.
I’m a little surprised — but pleased — to see that so many gamers seem to be loving the game as well. I’ve never been one of those people who hopes the things I like stay “niche.” Screw that. Go mainstream. I want a Borderlands 3. Though with a fifth Resident Evil on the big screen, I guess I understand why consumers fear commercial success.Posted in Op Ed by Steve R Gibson on September 26, 2012