Friday, September 28, 2012

Borderlands 2

Borderlands was one of those sleeper hits when it came out.  It wasn't good enough to win many Editor's Choice awards, but it was a solid game that a lot of people played, including myself.  I think the game grew in popularity with the longer it was out.  It was a new IP, after all, and such things have trouble getting started in these tough economic times.  Happily, it worked out for Gearbox and now we have Borderlands 2.

I've logged about 10 hours into the game so far, and for the most part it's pretty much the same game as the original.  So, basically, if you loved the first one you'll love this one.  If you didn't, then don't bother.  There are some differences however.  A few of these, I think, actually hurt the game.

First off, the "Revolver" gun type has been eliminated.  In the first game, there was both Pistol and Revolver weapon types.  Pistols were the rapid fire but low damage type of handgun, while the revolvers were the slow firing but high damage type.  There are only pistols in Borderlands 2, and that makes me very sad indeed.  I enjoy the high damage and accuracy that revolvers provided, and in Borderlands 2 I have to satisfy that play-style by using a sniper rifle, instead.  It's not a big deal, but it was something that disappointed me.

Next, they added many, many, many more varieties of guns.  I feel this also hurts the game, because it seems like they were running out of ideas.  Some of them are annoying.  There are varieties of guns that have a crosshair that moves more erratically than a stripper at happy hour, which then settles down the more you fire the gun.  In the hands of a player like me who loves lining up that first shot and picking someone off quickly, that really sucks.  There are also shields that take away health in exchange for having a high capacity.  I hate trading stats in any game.  I will ignore any items that do it if possible, even if it's truly a better choice.  So again, this is my own choice and my own complaint, but I feel it's necessary to mention these things.

Fortunately, there are so many items in this game and so many varieties, it's very easy to ignore the ones that you don't like.  It's just a shame when you get a gun that has that perfect look to it, or has that perfect magazine size, but you hate using it because it has a feature that pisses you off.

But aside from these minor complaints that I have, I really don't have anything else bad to say about it.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

You never know where you'll end up on the Internet.  Sometimes, I google things at random, with the intent of just relieving a few minutes of boredom rather than for the purpose of finding information.  Such was the case this morning.  I was browsing Steam and looking at all the games that have come out in the past week or so, and also being surprised at just how many people are playing Torchlight 2 right this moment.  (Over 30,000 if you're curious.)  This led me to start thinking about what I would want to say about these new games when I get around to writing about them, which then led me into thinking that I should have some kind of catchphrase for those kinds of posts.  I tried it once before in the past, and made up some ridiculous acronym.  I used it once or twice, and that was about it.  So this morning, I googled the phrase "What I Think".  (It was an attempt to find something similar to RPS' "Wot I Think" posts.)

I didn't really find anything clever, but one of the first results that I got back was a link to a blog entitled "What I Think".  It was just some random guy's blog, and he hasn't made a new post in almost a full year now.  I read a couple of the posts, and it surprised me how easily I could read them.  When it comes to reading, I often think that I'm rather bad at it.  I don't mean that I have trouble reading or anything like that, but rather that I have difficulties getting myself interested in what I'm reading.  I have a hard time sticking with a book if it doesn't grab my interest very quickly, and often times I feel that's a really big shame.  I'm sure there are books that I've tried to read that would have probably ended up being fantastic, but I was just unable to read through them enough to find out.

But back on topic, I was surprised that I was able to read the entire first long post on this blog, especially considering it became apparent that the author was religious.  Usually when someone starts talking about how they're praying or whatever, I'm moving on to read something else faster than light. In this case, however, I kept going.  The blog post about about the author's uncle, who had been diagnosed with cancer.  So on top of the fact that the post was lined with religion, it was also a depressing story.  As I read it, the style and tone of it reminded me very much of myself, and that's why I think I was able to continue reading it so easily.

And this fact got me thinking.  It was apparent that this author didn't have many people who read his blog.  In one post, he mentioned he had 2-3 readers.  It got me wondering how interesting or easy-to-read other people find my blog posts.  For me, I never really think about it on those terms.  I have a desire to write, and so I write words here.  I enjoy looking at a blank page and then filling it up with words.  I really never consider if what I'm writing would be enjoyed by other people.  It seems to me that this other blogger didn't really care about that either.  Interestingly enough, I think that's one of the reasons why I found his posts so approachable and readable.  News articles, professional reviews, and other such writings on the Internet tend to be stuffy to read.  Sometimes even boring.  And that, I think, is a result of trying to appeal to too many people at once.  I'm sure a lot of that kind of thing is taught in professional writing courses, which I've never had.  I'm sure my posts are littered with grammatical inaccuracies.

On a related note, I sometimes feel that I try too hard to have a solid topic to discuss when I come here.  That sometimes is counter-productive to the whole purpose of the blog, which is to simply provide myself with a medium for which to mindlessly ramble.  This post, thankfully, is a lovely example of rambling.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Black Mesa

I read a very good point regarding Black Mesa over on RPS the other day.  Someone pointed out that if the world is this excited about a game we've already played (seeing as how Black Mesa is just Half-Life remade), then he fears to imagine what would happen if a NEW Half-Life game were to be announced. I'm pretty sure that I myself would start to orgasm from orifices that are not meant to be orgasmed from.  There's a nice image for your Monday.  You're welcome.

In any case, Black Mesa was released on Friday.  If you've been living under a rock for the last 5 years or so, then I'll explain that Black Mesa is a game created by a certain group of people.  I don't know who they are.  They recreated the original Half-Life in the Source engine.  If you are a fan of Half-Life, you may be saying right this moment, "Well wait a minute:  There's already a Half-Life: Source."  Yes, this is true.  But it's just a straight port into the Source engine and doesn't take advantage of any of its features.  So basically, there are no improvements whatsoever.

The team that worked on Black Mesa has recreated the entire game.  It uses all of the Source engine's features, to include dynamic lighting and all the other bells and whistles that the Source engine has been given over the last several years.  The result is immediately noticeable and is nothing short of amazing.  I recently played through the original Half-Life a couple of months ago, so the look of that game was pretty fresh in my mind when I started on Black Mesa on Friday.  Black Mesa's visuals simply blew me away.

And that's not really all that's different.  The game is filled with custom models for the scientists and security guards.  Every security guard looks different now, instead of them all being exactly the same.  And there aren't just three models for the scientists now, but many, and there are now females.  Seems that Black Mesa is now truly an equal-opportunity employer.  Add in all the brand new voice acting, new animations, and some concepts and mechanics that have been tweaked, and you'll find yourself in a very weird place if you've played the original.  I'm left with this feeling of comfortable familiarity while at the same time not quite certain exactly what's going to happen next.  Just enough of the game is different to make it suspenseful, but everything that should have been left alone has indeed remained the same.

In playing Black Mesa, you get the feeling that it's truly a fan's love letter to the original Half-Life.


Holy smokes.  The last post I wrote for this blog was on October 18, 2017.  Through the little more than  two years since, this blog has be...