Category Archives: Entertainment

Music, books, movies, etc.

How good is Borderlands?

I beat it on Xbox 360, getting nearly all of the achievements. I beat the Zombie Island of Dr. Ned DLC. I quit on Mad Moxxi because that DLC suuuucked. But between the main campaign and Dr. Ned, I put a load of time into it.

I just beat it again on PC. 14 hours, 30 minutes. I just started Dr. Ned. Then I’ll do the Secret Armory of General Knoxx.

I’m still amazed by some of the weapons this game throws at me. A lot of them are garbage. Then you get something absolutely fucking magical. Like an accurate shotgun with high damage, fast reload, large magazine, and ammo regeneration. This is the gun that Zombie Island was made for. I can’t lose with this thing.

Brutal Legend

Oh boy, I sank some time into this one this weekend. Brutal Legend is the definition of a mixed bag. When it starts out, you’re hacking things to death with an axe and blasting them lightning bolts out of your guitar. Soon after, you’ve got a car and it’s an open world game where you’re driving around and doing side missions and collecting stuff. Then you start collecting followers and guiding them into battle. About halfway through, you’ve got a handful of units, you can fly, give orders, build stuff, and it’s a full blown console RTS.

The transition from simple action to RTS is very smooth, and you never lose the open world aspect when you’re not in the middle of a story mission. What is kind of a jarring is that the whole first half of the game is the tutorial into the RTS side. The game has three continents and that whole first half of the game takes places on the first one alone. On top of that, there are two other factions in the game, but you spend that first half fighting against the same units you’re using. You then spend almost the rest of the game fighting the second faction, and you only really fight the third faction in the absolute final mission.

It’s pretty obvious to me that a lot of time and effort went into the first continent and first half of the game, then the rest was cleaned up and rushed through. Everything about the pacing in the second half of the game is off and rushed, and the end drops like a hammer. There’s that final RTS mission and one final action sequence and then you’re done.

Despite this, Brutal Legend is a ton of fun. It’s fun to drive around in. It takes place during the Age of Metal and the backstory and environments and soundtrack are all fantastic. It’s simply a fun world to exist in if you’re into metal. I’m pretty horrible at RTS games, and I still enjoyed the RTS battles. The controls kind of take some getting used to because they focus on your character as a leader, and so you can only issue orders to your units if you’re near them. This is probably why the first half of the game feels like a tutorial, but by time you get off the first continent, you’re definitely proficient at commanding your units.

I don’t know how to recommend this. I was turned off of it when it was released by reviews saying it was half-baked, and not that fun. It is true that it was definitely a rushed release, but it never feels incomplete. Everything is there, it’s just paced poorly. And I definitely had a lot of fun with it. I guess it boils down to whether or not you like metal. If I didn’t enjoy the setting so much, I probably wouldn’t have spent so much time playing it.

Metro 2033

This game caught me by surprise. It didn’t get much hype and what it did get didn’t excite me. Crawling around in tunnels in the dark, who cares? Then I found out that the developers are the engineers who made S.T.A.L.K.E.R., which I loved. It got pretty positive reviews, with some complaints being about the difficulty and poor gunplay and dumb AI.

I’m pleased to report these complaints are mostly unfounded. Metro 2033 is a beautiful game with a strong narrative, even if Artyom’s motivations are somewhat unclear. I beat the game on normal difficulty without much trouble. The weapons in the game are no less responsive than those in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. I knew from the start that bullets were currency in the game, and that crappy bullets existed, but I didn’t figure out how to use those crappy bullets until halfway through the game. The crappy bullets really are crappy, being much louder, less powerful, and more inaccurate. It really makes you value those money bullets and forced me to decide when it was worth shooting my money away.

Around the halfway mark, there’s a vendor who will sell you either heavier armor or stealthier clothing. I had spent nearly all of my good bullets on a better gun, which was poor foresight on my behalf because guns are everywhere. I was duly punished for it though, as I was never offered the opportunity to buy a different armor again.

I got Metro 2033 on sale, and it’s one of those games in which I wish I had bought it on release. The game is short, but it’s really immersive. I hope 4A made enough to keep developing, because I’ll definitely get their next title the minute it comes out.

Doom 3

Unlike a lot of people, I really enjoyed Doom 3. It’s a big departure from the first two in terms of atmosphere and gameplay, but it holds its own and looks good. I’m doing what feels like my yearly replay of it, except on Veteran (hard) difficulty and I feel like the increased difficulty is really exposing some of the less obvious flaws in the game. I may not even finish this playthrough.

Half of the enemies jump out of closets. It’s one of those obvious flaws that you learn about in the first 15 minutes of the game. On medium, it’s no big deal because you take a hit, turn around, pop them, and they die. On hard, you still take that first hit, and it’s always at least 15% of your health. So you can take two paths with it; you can keep rolling and slowly bleed out from repeated monster closets, or you can quick save after every fight and reload when you find a monster closet so you can better deal with it. It sucks.

Lost souls are the fucking worst. They were an annoyance in Doom 1/2 but never a real threat. In Doom 3, they’re tiny, they hit for at least 15%, they bounce out of the way if you hit them without killing them, and when they hit, your view moves. I died in the first encounter with lost souls. LOST SOULS. Flying, screaming skulls pecked me to death.

The shotgun, which sucks at any range beyond 1 meter in front of you, is the best weapon to kill them with because it’ll almost always kill them in one hit, except you have to wait until it’s charging at you and it’s right in front of your goddamned face before you can think about pulling the trigger. The shotgun only holds 8 rounds, and it takes forever to reload so you better not miss!

And let’s talk about how much the shotgun blows. The shotgun in Doom 1/2 is one of my favorite weapons. It is versatile and possesses a good amount of stopping power. The shotgun in Doom 3 is worthless beyond 1 meter ahead of you. If you are not jamming that shotgun into the bad guy’s face before you pull the trigger, you’re going to have to shoot them twice. That said, it will kill ims, soldiers, zombies, maggots, and those dumb teleporting things  in one shot, so what I’ve found myself doing is dancing around while they shoot at me, and then charging at them before I blast them in the face, then running backwards in case that first shot didn’t do the trick. It’s a huge letdown. It’s horrible. Thankfully the plasma rifle is even more awesome than it was in Doom 1/2.

Even playing on hard, Doom 3 is no more difficult. It is just more annoying. Playing it feels like work. I will probably abort this playthrough, and remind myself next time to play it on medium again, when the game is more fun.