Category Archives: Videogame

Back to the Borderlands

I guess I’ve been too busy to blog. My day job has hit a busy period, and it’s been using up most of my mental energy. And when I do have time to goof off, I’ve been filling it by playing Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel.

The original Borderlands was kind of a half-assed project build around a neat system of randomly generated weapons and power-ups. It was fun to play, but a little rough around the edges and not well focused. For example, every character gets a special action skill, but in a game dominated by guns, two of the characters had abilities — Brick’s hand-to-hand Berserker rage and Lilith’s secretive Siren phase walk — that discouraged them from shooting anything. And the ending of the main campaign plot was infamously disappointing.

Still, Borderlands was a surprise success, and when Borderlands 2 came out, it was Borderlands done right. It introduced four new characters who were pretty much one-for-one replacements for the characters from the first game, but with better and more varied skills. The Berserker became a Gunzerker and the new Siren’s ability made shooting more effective rather than discouraging it. The plot was unified around fighting a tyrant named Handsome Jack, and the ending paid off.

In terms of hours played, Borderlands 2 is one of my all-time favorite games, but only in co-op play with someone else. Personally, I find the single-player mode less interesting. That’s because I don’t really like open-world games very much. Figuring out where to go and what to do next, and what the right order is for the side missions, and what items I’ll want to get before the next mission…that just isn’t fun for me. I spend my whole work day solving complicated problems, so when I want to escape in a video game, I want something simple and linear. Kill the bad guys, get the loot, move on to the next battle.

My sometimes co-blogger Ken likes all that complexity, so when I play Borderlands 2 with him, I let him lead the way, and I just follow along and shoot anything that bothers us. He gets the complex mission-oriented, open world style game he wants, and I get a linear first-person shooter I don’t have to think too hard about.

We’re about halfway through Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and I’m enjoying it. As every reviewer has tiresomely pointed out, it’s not quite the amazing game that Borderlands 2 was, but that’s praising it with faint damnation. In some ways, it’s not much more than a really big content expansion pack for Borderlands 2, but that’s not exactly a bad thing. The Borderlands 2 DLC’s were a lot of fun.

The main difference is that B1 and B2 both took place on the planet Pandora, but Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel takes place on Pandora’s moon, Elpis, which has lower gravity and no air. So you can execute giant floating leaps all over the place, and then suddenly plunge downward to stomp on your enemies. You do have to watch your oxygen supply whenever you’re outside or you’ll run out, but you don’t die right away, and there’s oxygen everywhere, so it’s not too annoying.

There are also different types of weapons, different equipment you can carry to buff your skills, different vehicles, and lots of different bad guys. But basically, it’s just Borderlands in Space. The game designers are well aware of this, even relabeling the ubiquitous “Guns” vending machines “Guns In Space.”

And I’m okay with that.

This plot takes place between Borderlands and Borderlands 2, and we’re working for Handsome Jack, who’s acting like he’s a good guy. But I’ve played Borderlands 2, so I know how he turns out. This is all going to end in tears. And bullets.

(And fire, electrical arcs, and explosions. Also some acid.)

Now excuse me, but I’ve got to exterminate some alien bad guys. We’ve got a moon to save.

A Brief Message to Valve Software

Dear Valve Software Executives,

I have been following with great anticipation your three-part series of excited announcements this week. Your Linux-based operating system, cleverly called SteamOS, sure sounds fascinating, although I personally don’t want to “bring the Steam experience…into the living-room” because my wife is watching TV in there. For the same reason, I also have little interest in your new series of hardware to play games on, nor am I personally excited about your new game controller.

To be honest, when you hinted that you had three big announcements coming up, I was expecting something a little different. I mean, I have to admire the scope of your vision, but

Half-Life 3 Motherfucker!
Do you have it?

I mean, Jesus Christ! We’ve been waiting almost six fucking years since the last Half-Life game! You said the next one would be out in 2008, but you gave us nothing. Every time E3 rolls around, we hope for a hint, a morsel, some fucking clue that you still care about your oldest and longest-running fanbase. And yet you disappoint us year after year after year. After year after year after year.

If you sadistic lazy fucks aren’t going to release the next Half-Life game, just let us know so we can get on with our lives! Is that so fucking hard?

Hail to the King, Baby!


After one final delay (see Gearbox studio head Randy Pitchford’s gracious apology), the long, long, long awaited video game Duke Nukem Forever (a.k.a. “The Chinese Democracy of video games”) is scheduled to ship on June 14, and it’s already gone gold in pre-orders.

Check out the latest trailer:

I think I actually prefer this older trailer which came out a few months ago:

I am beside myself.

Born to Rock the World

In a rather amazing development in the video gaming world, Gearbox Software has announced that they are going to finish the long-awaited video game Duke Nukem Forever.

I think Duke Nukem was the first big modern 3D shooter avatar. Up until the release of Duke Nukem 3D, you mostly played first-person shooters as your silent self. But Duke Nukem had lines. Funny lines, with pop-culture references. Duke was violent, sarcastic, and politically incorrect. Everybody does that nowadays, but the Duke did it way back then, and it was amazing.

There were several expansion packs and upgrades in the Duke Nukem franchise, but right after the original Duke Nukem 3D came out, the makers announced that the next major release would have some groundbreaking new features, and it would be called Duke Nukem Forever. After several missed release dates, 3D Realms announced that them game would be released “when it’s done.”

That was in 2001. Since the original announcement of Duke Nukem Forever, it’s been thirteen years.

Now Gearbox has the rights, and they say they’ll release it next year. We’ve heard that before. They say it’s almost done and just needs some polishing. We’ve heard that before too.

Granted, this is Gearbox, and they’ve done some impressive work — parts of the Half-Life, Brothers in Arms, Borderland — but I think I speak for Duke fans everywhere when I say I won’t really believe it until I kill my first alien invader…

Little Big Planet

Little Big Planet is a pretty cool looking new videogame for the Playstation 3 from Media Molecule. Here’s an explanation of the game by its inventors, which shows how multiple players can cooperate to build their own game environment. You can watch the developers explain a level they built as they play through it or, if you don’t want the whole explanation, you can just watch the game play trailer for the level.