Cult of the Turtle

Joe Tortuga's musing on life,tech and gaming

Borderlands First Impressions

February 02, 2010

Most of the old posts of this type went with the great hard drive failure of ‘09, but I like to talk about games before I’ve fully experienced them.  I’ll gladly analyze them to death the whole time, but I tend to drift away from games, or finish them.  Neither is a good way to get me to buy these games, but that’s a sticky post of another color.  I’d play these games for an hour, and move on, but Kyle Orland already does that.


Here’s what I knew about the game before I got it:

  • It’s a four player co-op game, that has a Diablo looting mechanic.
  • The story is set in that cliché’d science fictional post-apocalyptic world that seems game.standard.
  • The plot is essentially “get the four keys and open the vault.”
  • It’s an FPS with couch co-op.
  • The guy with the bird is lame.
  • It was Manveer Heer’s Game of the Year on Brainygamer’s podcast

None of this (except perhaps the Diablo-style loot generation) really bumped it up in my thoughts. There’s really one person I play co-op games with, and she doesn’t like shooters or science fiction, and her love of loot doesn’t really overwhelm that.   When I hit the GBox rental on Friday, I wanted two games, I quickly decided on Darksiders for reasons I’ll discuss later.  Bayonetta was my next choice, and it wasn’t available on the 360, the PS3 visuals aren’t as good, and well, what is Bayonetta without visuals? No More Heroes 2 was a distance third, as I haven’t completed the first one, but it wasn’t even available as a choice. Mass Effect 2 was sold out, but getting that would have been an also ran.

Borderlands sat somewhere after that.  But I’d just listed to the Brainygamer year end podcasts, and listened to Manveer talk about this thing.  And I thought, “What the hey? How bad could it be?” And GBox rentals are for those kinds of games.  Sometimes I find out my prejudgement of the game was woefully wrong, as I did with Demon’s Souls.

I’m not sure my reaction to Borderlands was as strong as my reaction to Demon’s Souls, but there was just something fun about it.  Okay, I played World of Warcraft for years.  I’m totally trained to do the kill 4 Skags or collect the three audio diaries type quests. I’m down with levels, and know to run from things that are “skulls”.  When my bullets started doing elemental damage, catching those things on fire… yeah. I think that might have been the moment.

I died like three times to get that gun, but death isn’t horribly expensive.  You lose the progress with what you were fighting (it heals up, unlike Diablo), but you’re usually set back at the ammo vendor, and with full health, too boot.  Often that’s enough to settle the odds in your favor.  Then I got the gun that sets things on fire (I originally said “shoots fire” but it’s not a flamethrower), and it was like I had a fireball arrow.

We were cooking with gas, baby!

That’s also about the time I looked up and it was time to quit, turning the console over to Girl so she could play Oblivion, and honestly, some part of me didn’t want to.  Still, I enjoyed what she did as she played, and had more interesting thoughts about transgression as she played through the ends of the Assassins and Thieve’s Guilds quests.  I had to fight myself to put in Darksiders to try it out — and my initial disappointment with that game made me try more Borderlands.

I may have talked Girl into trying couch co-op with me though.  I told her the plot, as Manveer explained it on the podcast: “get four keys and open the vault.”

She said to me, “Why are you trying to open the vault.”

“There’s treasure in it,” I said.  “Some sort of alien something or other.”

“I might need to play this game,” she said.  Hopefully she’ll be as pleasantly surprised as I was.