Saturday, 5 January 2013

Have a frank and productive new year

Not a lot to say. I've been busy for the last two days with... things.

I can elaborate on my probably unpopular opinions w/r/t Diablo 3 and Borderlands 2 however.

I'm very much a gameplay oriented gamer - story and graphic design and... other auxiliary features are important but secondary. I don't have to justify my priorities in games, but I will say this. A game is something which you play. You can analyze it, or dissect it,  or "experience" it, and you can do all of those things to a chair as well, but I think we can all agree that a chair is for sitting. Similarly, a game is for playing. Therefore, the gameplay is the feature of the game that makes it a game. Gameplay is the most important feature of any game, QED.

I played Borderlands very thoroughly, bringing three characters to the max level; Siren, Hunter and Berserker, and I came close with the Soldier. I played a lot of the DLC as well, so clearly I really liked Borderlands. Borderlands 2 is in many ways simply an update on Borderlands 1 following the exact same formula. And having said gameplay is what I care for most, and the gameplay in the two games is eminently similar, how can my enjoyment differ so greatly? Perhaps because I played Borderlands 1 until I really had no more desire to do so. This was one well-spring of joy that got tapped dry for me, so serving it in a different glass didn't wow me. That said I feel there was one very distinct difference between the two games in gameplay. That is the volume of enemies and the time it takes to clear an area. In Borderlands 1 you could move from room to room relatively quickly in single-player; a lot of rooms had 2 or 3 baddies, and you could enjoy a sense of steady progress. Borderlands 2 is more like air-travel; hurry up and wait. You wait in the car for an hour to get to the airport, wait there for a few hours and get to the plane, and then wait for your connecting flight, et cetera. It takes much too long to clear an area in Borderlands 2, and the reason is the ridiculous extent to which enemies respawn from their little doors of mystery. Also many areas are multi-tiered, requiring you to clear out the first "floor", climb some ramp, start fighting on the second floor to find all the enemies on the first floor have respawned, and you've triggered a few on the top level as well. And all of these guys will have to be killed 2-3 times, effectively, due to respawns. Headache.

That said, the new characters are fun, I played the Sniper because he's good for soloing what with kill-at-a-distance, and enjoyed popping guys in the head. The story is undoubtedly better written, and Handsome Jack's whole... deal... was pretty good. There were fan service elements pretty thoroughly sprinkled in there, and everyone has a pretty partisan view on those so I'll leave it at saying they're ubiquitous for better or worse.

The game used a ton of blue and green tones, I found, which is a poor choice in my opinion. They're just not easy on the eyes in an environment where you have to spin around trying to figure out where you're getting shot from. Similarly, the enemy colouration schemes often caused them to blend in the with the background colours, which is poor design. Opinions may differ on this, but that's what I experienced.

This game is not worth the triple-A cash it costs. Play Borderlands 1. It will cost way less, and it's a powerfully similar experience.

I'll actually leave D3 for Tuesday, when classes resume, since I probably won't be able to game much before then.

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