Borderlands 2 Review– A.K.A Where did all my time go?

Hey y’all,

I made one of the dumbest decisions one week before reading break (which is essentially Spring Break for university students in UBC) and bought Borderlands 2. The week before break is usually when everything is due– papers, midterms, presentations, you name it.

Anyway, I remember logging in and promising myself that I would play for 30 minutes. A very reasonable break duration, right? I finally logged off to hastily finish the rest of my course work three or so hours later.

What I like most about Borderlands 2 is how funny it is. I have not played the first game in the franchise, but I heard its storyline is not as well developed. I also bought the Mechromancer Pack along with the game, meaning I got to play as Gaige and controller her murderous robot Deathtrap. Gaige is a cool female character who is steampunk-esque in her attire (added coolness in my books). She built Deathtrap for a school science fair, but her opponent, Marcy, stole her blueprints and bribed the judges causing Gaige to come in third. However, when Marcy shoved Gaige, Deathtrap identified her as a hostile and killed her. Gaige then went to Pandora to evade arrest. Pretty neat backstory I’d say.

gaige

The reason why my short break turned into a uber long one was because of the storyline as explored through quests.

**Mid-game spoiler**
I was doing the Rising Action quest and I logged in during my “30 minute break” to finish it up and hand it in. Once I submitted the quest, in which I insert a new power core to generate energy for the rebel base called Sanctuary, I was notified that it had all been a trap. Now the inhabitants of Sanctuary were under attack because the corrupted power core hacked through the power shield that was protecting the city. However, there are other heroes in the story (Lilith, for those of you who have played Borderlands, returns as a NPC), and they manage to teleport the entire city into the sky, but accidentally leaves you behind by accident.

Reading the quest description...

Some of the quest descriptions in this game…

This basically meant I had to find my way back to Sanctuary. Which took me about three hours. I was so desperate to get back to the safe zone for rebels and log out there instead of anywhere else. I was quite attached, you see. I felt bad for drastically changing life in Sanctuary, and causing probably a few deaths to civilians in the process. I had to find my way home. In other words, I was hooked.
***End of mid-game spoilers**

Borderlands 2 revolves around the gamer playing one of the six playable characters on Pandora (4 without DLCs). You are a vault hunter, which means you have unique abilities. For example, my character Gaige can control a death machine in the form of Deathtrap as a Mechromancer. Maya, another character, is a siren, which means she can suspend enemies on another dimension. This allows her to do crowd control.

Unfortunately for you, as a vault hunter, the villain Handsome Jack (who is a brilliant villain by the way) is on the lookout for you. His aim is simple: kill you. Vault hunter interferes with his business of gathering the mineral Eridium and ruling the world so he must get rid of you. And everyone else in the city of Sanctuary who are basically the last of the resistance on Pandora.

handsome jack

This is a roleplaying, FPS game. If you’re looking for something fun, I would recommend this. You play this solo, so I sometimes get bored of it for that reason (you can invite a friends for a co-op mode though if they also have the game), but I take a break and I find myself missing it. Very funny, interesting characters (even their NPCs such as Moxxi and Tiny Tina! Google them up, they’re really cool. I may do a post in the future just to explore the characters in Borderlands!), and great storyline. Not to mention, they broke the world record for the most number of weapons in a game: 17,750,000.

-Karen

Left 4 Dead 2: Free stuff is good stuff.

Hey all,

Not sure if any of you picked up Left 4 Dead 2 during the holidays when Valve offered it for free in celebration of Christmas, but after playing it for a few days, I must say it’s very good. Sure, it’s not the newest of games (shoutout to 2009!), but free stuff is good in my books.

l4d2 blog

To be honest, I never really liked first person shooter games, but I found that L4D2 had a lot of variety whether it was in the mobs or the weapons. I’ve never played the first game in the franchise, but in this continuation, you are given a chance to play one of the four characters on your team that are immune to the disease that turns people into zombies. Depending on which storyline you follow, you will have to progress through several chapters (with a checkpoint after each of them so you don’t have to start all over) until you reach the hardest part of the campaign (which may include working together with teammates to fill a car with gas, fighting off hordes of zombies while waiting for a helicopter, or running across a bridge that is frankly impossibly long).

*Skip this part if you don’t want to read a condensed version of the complete L4D2 storyline*

I’m all about the story and how immersed I am in the game through the writing. Each campaign starts with a short cutscene showing how your team got into your current situation. You are supposed to play the campaigns in a certain order so that the stories flow into one another. The main characters in L4D2 starts you off in the campaign Dead Center, where the four survivors are abandoned on the roof of a hotel. Through the character’s conversations, you find out that your goal is to reach the shopping mall. The fight to the shopping mall is riddled with the undead, but when you make it there, your group finds a race car on display. You must now transverse the mall to find gas to fill up the car. If you succeed, the storyline continues in the next campaign: The Passing. Your team is faced with a raised bridge which you cannot get across. The main characters of L4D2 meets the survivors from the first franchise who tells them they must get the generator working. Collectively, the bridge is lowered and you can continue to drive away. Then in Dark Carnival, your team is forced to abandon your car and travel by foot as the bridge is blocked with abandoned cars. The bridge leads you to a rundown amusement park (this is one of my favourite campaigns) and you all decide to crank up the music on a rock stage so that a patrolloing rescue helicopter can be signalled. It’s pretty cool because the music gets real loud and fireworks on stage explode while you fight zombies. Talk about feeling epic.

All good things must come to an end and in the next campaign Swamp Fever, your team realizes that the pilot who just rescued you is infected and he starts attacking you guys. The helicopter crashes into a swamp in the fight the ensues. The survivors finds signs that there may be rescue deeper in the swamp and indeed, they find that a kind man with a boat named Virgil is willing to take them to a rumoured safe zone in Louisiana. Then comes the campaign I hate the most: Hard Rain. Why do I hate it? It’s raining really hard. I can’t see half the time so it’s really frustrating. But on with the story. Virgil’s boat runs out of fuel so the survivors have to go out and search for more juice. Seems simple enough until signs of a imminent hurricane appear. In the end of the campaign, the survivors retrieve the fuel and signals Virgil with a lit up billboard. Virgil then drops off at the rumoured safe zone and leaves the group to search for more survivors (bless that guy). Sadly, your team finds New Orleans to be completely infested with zombies. However, if you manage to transverse a long bridge, a helicopter is waiting to take your team to a safe zone where the rest of the survivors reside surrounded by water (apparently the infected can’t swim).

***End***

Did I like the writing? Overall, it was alright. The characters interacted well with one another (such as chastising every now and then when a team member accidentally opens friendly fire), and when near death, there is a very real sense of dread in what your characters says. They voice their disbelief, or their acceptance of dying. This causes the player to feel relieved when a teammate heals you or when you find a health pack and the negativity dissipates. The story itself was okay. It may be a bit repetitive in how you finally reach your goal at the end of a campaign only to realize the zombies are always waiting elsewhere but I don’t see any other way a zombie shooter could have written their story.

My favourite part of the writing takes the form of graffiti on the walls and structures in the game. Some are witty, some are funny, while others are sad and unsettling. (Screenshots aren’t mine, but just placed here for reference! I believe the third one is from the first L4D)

l4d2graffiti1

l4d2graffiti2

I spot my name on one of the graffitis <3 (top right)

I spot my name on one of the graffitis

What other zombie games are there? The storyline similar? Meanwhile, I’ll continue to top the charts in the most friendly fire done in the campaigns in easy mode (sorry whoever I end up playing with 😦 )

-Karen