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Borderlands Has Over 200,000 Guns, and I Want to See Them All. March 16, 2010

Posted by maxfreund in General, PS3, Xbox 360.
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So Borderlands is last year’s darling. A game that most people didn’t expect much from since it was sandwiched between Halo 3: ODST and Uncharted 2. I hadn’t tried it out until a few weeks ago when my buddy Jeff let me borrow his copy. But I have poured about 15 hours into the game so far, and love it. For anyone who doesn’t know what the game is, watch the video below. Actually, everyone, watch the video below. IGN is a great site, and this video is just one example of the hilarity that spews from their San Fransisco office.

As Dave Claym, *cough*, excuse me, Randy Pitchford explained, Borderland is a shooter through and through. It does one thing and does it well. Drop gamers into an open world, give them thousands and thousands of pretty toys, and make things go boom when they get shot. It is simple, but addictive.

Modern day shooters can sometimes get bogged down in story, morality, and extra additions. When its done well, it can lead to a more well rounded game. But all too often it leads the game away from the central component that makes a shooter great, the combat.

Borderlands strips it all down, and built a shooter that just feels right. Each gun class, and believe me there are many, has its place. Snipers are crisp and clean, allowing for precise headshots from across a level. While shotguns provide players with a satisfyingly indiscriminate spray that wreaks havoc on surrounding enemies.

Your character is also customizable down to the color of their clothing. My level 20 Soldier, Black Thunder, is currently wielding a shotgun with incendiary rounds, while wearing a fashionable yellow chest plate and blue hat. The level of depth here is a wonderful break from the usual brown and gray linear shooters we are all used to.

While the shooting is the key focus, don’t get tricked into thinking there is no story at all. The central focus is around some place called The Vault, a supposed cache of alien technology on your planet. And while this may sound like a tired and cliche central point, the sarcastic, dry, gritty humor of the supporting cast makes the game an enjoyable romp.

I’m going to be honest, the story is just something used to string you from one firefight to another, but I am okay with that. If I wanted a great story, I’d read a book…or play Bioshock 1. I play Borderlands to shoot things.


Trophies and Achievements are Pointless…but I like Trophies. January 17, 2010

Posted by maxfreund in General, PS3, Xbox 360.
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As a person who has owned both a 360 and a PS3, I have had plenty of experience with both the trophy and achievement rewards system.

For anyone who does not know what they are, they are a rewards system that developers can implement in their games. Any task in a game from beating the final boss on a certain difficulty, to collecting 100 doodads can net you any number of achievement points (if you are playing the 360) or a gold/silver/bronze trophy (for those who game on the PS3). This small measure of reward has no actual function beyond displaying your personal escapades within a game, but most people I have talked to agree that they are a useful way to entice multiple play throughs of games.

Recently, Greg Miller of the IGN Playstation Team, and Charles Onyett of the IGN Xbox Team posted dueling editorials outlining the positives and negatives of each system, and for those who are interested in learning about their full opinions, you can find them here and here.

While Mr. Miller is a self-proclaimed PS3 fanboy, you can expect that his preference lies with the Play Station system. While Mr. Onyett focused more on problems with achievements/trophies that required obnoxious replays, level grinding, or possibly sabotaging a multiplayer game for personal benefit.

I agree with much of what Charles says, their is nothing more frustrating then sitting down to complete a game, and realizing there is some small bronze trophy, or 5 point achievement that is going to take hours and hours of pointless grinding to obtain. That is obnoxious, and is discouraging to players who love a game and wish to complete it.

But for the main point of this piece, let us consider that all things being equal, every achievement or trophy is obtainable in a reasonable manner, and you set off on your quest to complete the game.

Look Ma! I got a Platinum Trophy! I truly belong now!

I recently did this for the first time on the PS3, as evident by my little portable ID on the right hand column of this site. I got a platinum trophy for completing Uncharted 2. And this, my friends, is the whole reason why the trophy system is better.

I had an Xbox 360 for 2 years, and reached 1000/1000 achievement points on both Bioshock and Gears of War. But when I reached that pinnacle of success within each game, i was rewarded with nothing, no extra point boost or emblem of success.

But when I got the last of the bronze/silver/ and gold trophies in Uncharted 2, I got the platinum trophy. Which not only provided me with a hefty point boost in the PS3 trophy leveling system, which is thoroughly detailed in Greg Miller’s piece, but gave me a nice shiny platinum emblem which shows my accomplishment to the gaming world.

It may be a small thing, but can make a big difference to someone who just spent hours and hours trying to complete a game. The Platinum trophy provides a cap to the game, a virtual pat on the back that says, “good job, you did something special here,” and to some gamers that can make all the difference.