written by Blain Newport on Wednesday, October 15, 2009
Borderlands hype continues. But it's been undercut (for me, anyway) by a less than enthusiastic discussion of the game on episode 47 of the Idle Thumbs podcast. Nick Breckon (who also writes for Shacknews), found the game basically satisfying, but hampered with AI bugs, excessive schlepping, and general monotony.
I brought it up on the forums. People insulted Nick without even knowing what he'd said. It was the usual idiocy. I was polite with some people and ruder with others, but it was largely civil. The PA forums aren't as nice as PAX, but they're better than most of the internet.
Brütal Legend reviews also started hitting. It's as I feared. The theatrics are great, but the gameplay is lacking. It's sad (both for Brütal Legend and possibly Borderlands if it turns out Nick's opinion is the norm) to see dozens of talented, friendly people put years of their lives into something and have it met largely with ambivalence. There are just so many things that can go wrong with a game and wreck the experience. I'm glad there are people crazier than me out there who are willing to work that hard and take those risks.
IdolNinja from the PA forums, who I met playing Saint's Row 2, took a look at the Blood walkthrough and suggested trying some multiplayer. After some futzing we managed to get it running, and it was interesting. Movement felt oddly slow, slower than Blood single player, possibly because we were simulating a local game over the internet. But the weapons were fairly fun. And once we got tired of DeathMatch, co-op turned out to be pretty entertaining as well. The level design didn't always work out as many of the traps in the game are designed with a single person in mind, but it was still fun to run around shooting monsters and occasionally blowing each other up by accident. I learned to run for cover when I heard Idol fire up his lighter. :)
Here's IdolNinja running across a tightrope to pick up a key. In the single player game, this is a fun activity. But actually having someone in the stands is cooler.
Much like when I played some System Shock 2 with Matthew, the horror aspect of the game pretty much evaporated. Being able to infinitely respawn and gang up on the bad guys undercuts the tension. Luckily Blood is just as wacky as it is scary, so what it lost in scares was made up in extra chaos.
Finally, I gave the Wolfenstein demo a spin.
You can upgrade your weapons.
You can use mounted guns.
You can get Nazi super tech and disintegrate guys.
Yawn. I've seen it all before.
Okay. I haven't seen Nazis and debris float around the room. But floating Nazis can't fight back, and the low gravity slows the game drastically, so it's boring to play in. Hopefully they figured out a clever way to make wonky gravity zones fun somewhere down the line. But if you can't find a clever bit for the demo, I'm not desperate enough for gaming to fork over money to find out.