The lights are on
The rush of holiday releases are enough reason for anyone to put down a game that came out in September, but I stopped playing Borderlands 2 shortly after its release. Talking about my issues with the game has been difficult, given the nearly unified praise it’s received. I agree that Borderlands 2 is an excellent sequel, but the FPS isn’t scratching my gaming itch right now.
I enjoyed the first Borderlands. Sure, I wasn’t in love with my soldier’s turret or any of the guns I acquired in particular, but setting tiny psychos on fire with an automatic handgun is a good time. I also appreciate the series’ unique art style and sense of humor. I also appreciate the addition of the minimap and retooled menu system, which make playing splitscreen more manageable. Unfortunately, no amount of guns or laughs was enough to keep me interested in Borderlands 2.
According to series’ creators and its biggest fans, Borderlands 2 is best played with three friends. Joining up with complementary character classes and grinding out levels is the core of the game’s appeal. However, the action always ends up being a chaotic, confusing mess whenever I’m involved. Sometimes the team’s levels don’t match perfectly, meaning one poor fool is going to die repeatedly. Sometimes one player is at a different point in the storyline, meaning they’ll be confused if they’re flashed ahead when joining a friend’s game. One solution would be to play through the game single-player first, but with the avalanche of great games, who has time right now to double dip?
More importantly for me, I’m turned off by the audiovisual overload of Borderlands 2. At any given time your teammates can be chatting over each other, Handsome Jack can be taunting you over your radio, and a vending machine can be squawking. On top of this, guns jabber with every pull of the trigger. Combine this with a very crowded HUD (especially for an FPS), and the whole experience is too busy. During the hours I spent playing Borderlands 2 with friends it was hard keep up with what needed to be done, let alone why we were doing it. Still, everyone insists there is a story hiding there somewhere. I’d love to experience it, but all the bells and whistles drown it out.
Underlying all these surface-level issues, I’m having with the game is one simple fact: I’m tired of just shooting guys. Sure, your character can earn stat-boosting perks or an upgraded melee attack, but the spirit of Borderlands 2 is all about lining up the sights and blasting enemies. I’m not enjoying Call of Duty: Black Ops II’s campaign for the same reasons. Far Cry 3, however, feels like a first-person exploration game that happens to have shooting segments sprinkled throughout it, so at least I know I’m not tired of all gunplay.
I’m not saying Borderland 2 is a bad game, by any means; it’s just not what I’m looking for right now. XCOM: Enemy Unknown is my top contender for my Game of the Year, so that may give you some indication of where my interests lie right now. I plan to return to Borderlands 2, but I think I’m going to focus on playing through it solo first. If the game is good enough, then I’ll want to play through it again with friends. That is, if folks are still playing by then.
What are your thoughts on Borderlands 2? Did you finish it? Did you put it down? Am I just crazy?
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