Apr. 3rd, 2016

gushi: (anthrocon badge)

Back, nearly a year ago, Kelli and I bought a playstation 3, and I insisted on wanting to try a 1st-generation console because I had ps2 games that I wanted to be able to play. Kelli warned me that there would be problems, and there were -- long after we ditched the console. Still, that first night, Kelli introduced me to Borderlands, which I quickly came to enjoy as an "I'm pissed off and want to shoot things" game.

However, because we had bought at gamestop, we got a 7-day chance to return it at no penalty. So, we backed up the entire contents of the ps3, and reformatted the drive and returned it.

About a month later, when we bought a newer, doesn't-overheat-when-you-look-at-it PS3, we restored from the backup. Borderlands once again showed a save game, that it now refused to load.

We tried everything. Creating a new PSN account (we hadn't used one previously), renaming the data file, moving it to a new profile, every stupid trick on the forums or GameFAQ's. It seemed like either the game developers had delberately made this process obtuse for some reason, or sony had, in their infrastructure.

Okay. Fine. I started over. A second time. With a completely clean profile. Apparently, though, there's another glitch. Even though I was using a NEW character on EXISTING save data, there was still a corruption issue related to trying to use data on a different playstation than the one it was created on.

So now, every time I did ANY achievement, I'd get a pop-up (at the completion of pretty much EVERY mission) stating "YOU DID NOT EARN A TROPHY!" Seemingly, even in places I wouldn't normally earn one.

(Because I hadn't earned it, it was letting me know EVERY TIME AFTER that I could still get (DID NOT EARN) a trophy.

Run over a bunch of Skags? YOU DID NOT EARN A TROPHY. Kill a boss for the third time? YOU DID NOT EARN A TROPHY. Stub your fucking toe? YOU DID NOT EARN A TROPHY.

And for a game with the ability to do live-patches, there’s NO EXCUSE for this shit.

So what the fuck? Why have the ability to back-up/restore at all? And when the saves don't load, why not tell us WHY they won't load? Just plain frustrating bad UI. Don't the playtesters test this at all?

So, my mood visibly annoyed, I started finding other little annoyances in this game.

  • Weapons sorting and carrying. I get that it's a mechanic of game balance to only be able to carry so much, and I guess I also get that it's a mechanic of game balance to not let you have some kind of a 'locker' that you can keep some awesome weapons in that you don't want to carry around, but looking over weapons, it's kind of annoying to sort by, for example, which have the best sights, or which are most stable, or which have the highest ammo capacity.

  • The vehicle system. It's way, way, way too easy to get vehicles stuck places, and at certain levels, speed is kind of your only way out of a tight situation.

  • I've also managed to get my character stuck inside the landscape more than once. Again, totally fixable after ship-time with a simple patch, if the developers would bother once it's out the door.

  • The radar display. For some reason, it can only track one mission at a time, and in that mission, it can only track one potential TARGET at a time.

  • I get it, it's plot, but it would be really cool if I could do a thing for a mission before i actually had the mission. "Hey, go climb this radar tower and throw this switch". You mean that radar tower I was just on top of ten minutes ago when that switch did nothing and I couldn't interact with it at all?

  • The "scavenger" missions. You know the ones. "Hey, go find five pieces of this weapon and you can keep them." The ones that take a tool you've totally relied on throughout the entire game (your radar) and make it lie. Not go blank. Not show a question mark, not show a general area. Just make it lie. So you wind up jumping around where you think the radar tells you to be, until you're trapped inside the landscape. Again.

  • The physics. I don't care who you are, a point blank shot to the face with a rocket launcher should kill you just as well as a hit from 300 yards with a sniper round.

  • Some of the "survival rounds" turned out not to be that at all -- you could totally re-spawn, and walk back into them, mid-challenge, with half of the enemies dead. Which kind of evades the whole point.

All that said, I figured maybe I was reading too much into this -- I started to play it simply as a 'if you don't succeed, level up, and punch things till they die game'. I was playing as Brick, after all, and Brick's main trait is his outright "just storm into it, keep shooting, and you'll probably make it" ability.

So I just ran through, and had fun with the storyline. Don't feel like fighting? Just run. Don't feel like taking out the enemies tactically?
Just berserk. Don't feel like attacking the main boss? Just sneak up behind him and punch him in the ding-ding till he's not alive anymore.
It's immensely gratifying.

And then I came to the game's worst point: the last boss. The vault guardian. A huge tentacle-and-eyeball monster inside a giant pink labia. And all the tactics that had gotten me through the entire game were suddenly pointless. Trapped in the end of the game, with no access to ammo, anywhere, and all the strategy guides suddenly helpfully suggesting one type of ammo or another, or re-speccing my entire character for one specific optimization.

I shut the console off in disgust. And it's stayed that way, ever since.

I think I may, now, finally go play it again, just to see how it finally ends, but it's been my experience that game developers are always under such pressure to ship it and get it out the door, that the endings are always shit.

Was the ending to Super Mario Brothers super good? Or even The Legend of Zelda? How about this classic ending from Karnov?

((Yes, yes, Hideo, you get a gold star, I know there are exceptions.))

I suspect, if I do go back to it, I'm going to have to run around the game (with no more available missions) to randomly kill folks to get stuff to sell to get more cash to buy more stuff to kill the next epic boss. Doesn't seem fun anymore, honesty.

And if I wanted that, I'd just play WoW.

May 2017

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