Extra Life: Dishonored, Borderlands 2 & More - shootist2600 Blog - www.GameInformer.com
Switch Lights

The lights are on

Extra Life: Dishonored, Borderlands 2 & More

The Extra Life gaming marathon was this past Saturday and here I'll chronicle how my virtual day was spent. But first, Extra Life has announced that participants' pages will be kept up until mid-December so there's still time to contribute to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.

Team GIO's second annual marathon so far has raised nearly $11,000! Thanks to everyone who contributed in some fashion (especially organizers Noobtubin8er/Brian Seavey, mojomonkey12/Jeremy Brown and Jack Gardner, and the GI staff) and in advance to anyone else who donates!

Even though the marathon officially began at 8 a.m., I started mine at 1:30 a.m. in a co-op romp with mojomonkey12 in Gearbox Software's Borderlands 2. This marked the first time that I played as the Mechromancer character Gaige. Jeremy had already begun a similar character so we double teamed as the same character class.

This being only the second character I've used online, I was surprised that Badass rank bonus stats appear to apply across the board regardless of character class or, apparently, one's level. My Siren level 23 stats showed up for my low level Mechromancer.

Jeremy had already unlocked the Mechromancer's ability to summon a Deathtrap for assistance in combat. I agree with him that it seems to make combat a bit easy, especially with regard to taking control away from the gamer. It's nice to have its assistance in a pinch, but I think I so far prefer wielding the Siren's Phaselock ability at foes of my choosing for a one-two punch with specific weapons.

In the meantime, Jeremy and I enjoyed pummeling more than a few Bullymongs. I think he began as a level 7 Mechromancer whereas I started as level 1. But it's a testament to how much more fun and rewarding the game is when played in co-op that I believe I ranked up to level 6 in the hour and a half that he and I played together. I do love playing this game even solo, but co-op with friends shines even brighter!

I had played Dishonored for an hour and a half previously, but I still enjoy experimenting with its varied and compelling gameplay. So after hours spent in real world activities, I eagerly returned to the setting of Dunwall at 2:30 p.m. to further explore its environs and my character's abilities.

It's a rare game that rewards your curiosity and ingenuity by allowing you to do things you might not normally be able to in other games despite how practical or intuitive they might seem. Arkane Studios, to its credit, allows you to jump over or climb on to virtually any object in the game.

The fact that literal leaps of faith are often met with success encourages exploration and also strategy. While standing on a light suspended from the ceiling might seem excessive, it could provide a great strategic advantage whether avoiding foes or seeking the upper hand in a potential confrontation.

While your character Corvo can interact with practically all items in the world, some of particular interest are highlighted for your attention. Books, for instance, will include information that either is helpful or provides extra context for the events you are experiencing.

I was surprised by the option to easily maneuver underneath a desk when standing nearby. Of course this is not a new ability but so few games implement such interactivity that I was impressed by its inclusion even in a title where stealth is a key gameplay feature.

The fictional city of Dunwall harkens to the Industrial Age with its ubiquitous machinery and conduit as well as its utilitarian construction and dirty, unkempt environs. Frankly, I'm enthralled by the detailed and evocative settings and look forward to exploring each new area.

Striking and blocking form the basis for melee attacks, however, you can also parry an attack and open an opportunity for counterattack. This is so widely employed now in action adventure titles that it's practically a necessary feature, but it is well implemented in Dishonored and, as suggested, can have a brutally effective consequence.

Still, adept melee combat even including parrying won't always guarantee your survival, especially when facing enemies who are armed with guns. Using stealth is therefore recommended, even if -- like me -- you're about as clever as Maxwell Smart or Inspector Clouseau.

Water is a common feature in Dunwall, which might help explain how the city has become ravaged by plague. That being the case, water is portrayed realistically, down to examples of water distortion. It is a detail that helps establish the game's considerable atmosphere and unique setting.

Like water, rats are ubiquitous in Dunwall. Individual rats do not pose any threat but add to the oppressive scenes. However, a rat horde is nothing to be trifled with, as they will attack en masse. This adds an element of strategy, as such swarms are best avoided.

The fugitive Corvo not only has to avoid rats but Dunwall's guards as well. The easiest way is to prowl the depths of the city sewers, which shows off both the secret industrial underground and the game's swimming mechanic. It's standard but affords yet another means for tackling challenges.

Exploring the sewer system rewards observant gamers with a variety of items as well as Arkane Studios' penchant for artistic flair. Reading materials embellish the narrative while the art design evokes a unique sense of place. In that way, the game reminds me of BioShock and Rapture. 

As suggested you will encounter rats everywhere in the plague-infested city. Lucky for you, corpses likewise will be plentiful. I say lucky because, as suggested earlier, rat hordes make quick work of flesh. Knowing how, when and where to feed the hordes can create opportunities.

Platforming is typically accomplished by climbing or jumping, but the environment will also dictate what other means might be available for navigating your world. Ladders are an obvious tool for vertical movement, but chains provide another option depending on the setting.

Tossing vanquished foes into bodies of water seems a poor way to conceal them but at least they're out of my way. Unless I'm swimming of course. BTW trying to get the above screenshot wasn't easy, as I found to my surprise that currents will sweep you away! It was a pleasant surprise.

Sometimes corpses are of the prerendered variety and are not interactive. However, they still contribute to the brooding atmosphere. Even light, which can be almost as compelling an element as water, is employed in service of Dunwall's foreboding character. It's telling that even when aboveground, light is diffused by the industrial haze that chokes the city.

Such an inhospitable world affords few comforts, but I found some assurance in a crossbow I obtained that had a variety of bolts. This weapon of course allowed more stealthy attacks, and its sleep bolts helped assuage a guilty conscience besides reducing corpses, plague and, therefore, chaos. Though the latter was likely moot given I threw the sleeping guards into the sewer water.

As much as I try to prowl the city cloaked in stealth, I invariably alert others to my clumsy presence. Hence my high Overall Chaos. I have no illusion that I will get anything other than the "bad" ending of high chaos. But chaos is rarely so fun, so I'm OK with that.  ; )

The art direction is so compelling and the gameplay so intuitive and entertaining that I often go off the beaten track. Upon arriving at my destination, I instead strayed from the mission and climbed Dunwall's neighborhoods. I even found "Corvo's Chambers" before I was meant to LOL.

The joy of discovery is everywhere evident, in particular when thoroughly searching high and low. Over and over I was thrilled to realize that I could scale areas I wasn't certain was possible. During one such excursion, I spied these dolls through a keyhole. It reminded me of a scene out of Silent Hill 4: The Room. **shivers**

Two hours later, my stay in Dunwall was over.

An hour later I fired up Resident Evil 6 for the first time. I'm a fan of the series though have only finished Resident Evil 2 and progressed part way through the original game and Resident Evil 4. (Truth be told, I finished only one disc of RE2 as I inadvertently deleted the game before I could begin the second scenario/disc. D'oh!) But I still like the concept! Even if the notorious controls can infuriate.

So it was with some anticipation that I began this game, which opens with a prologue involving Leon. I was fortunate to have played the E3 demo and did enjoy my hour or so with two of the three character scenarios. But I only played the retail build for 45 minutes (5:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.). Essentially a training mode, it was effective at introducing basic gameplay but by necessity was too restricted to get a good feel for the action.

Still I thought it promising and of course appreciated the more streamlined and intuitive controls. Plus the presentation was effectively grim and threatening, with a layer of production polish to keep everything interesting. I'm looking forward to more playtime with this latest installment of Capcom's venerable series.

You'd be forgiven for thinking the above screenshot was from RE6 but in fact I turned my attention to Techland's Dead Island. I am on my second playthrough of this zombiefest and was expecting to play with mojomonkey12, DJH and joyfulpenguin(?), if I remember. Unfortunately, Jeremy's electricity failed, David's Internet broke and I never did meet joyfulpenguin.

I began playing Dead Island at 6:30 p.m. It's a testament to how fun I've found the island of Banoi to be but also to how confounding open world games can be that although I ended up playing for three hours I didn't really accomplish much of anything.

What happened is that I found this glitch in the foliage and proceeded to explore it. In the process I tried to exploit the glitchy greenery by leaping on top of it, or at least on top of nearby palm trees. When that failed, I later tried driving my pickup truck into or on top of it.

The foliage grew underneath a bunker. I did manage to climb the foliage to get onto the bunker and, from there, found this vista on the other side. This demonstrates how wonderfully realized the island of Banoi is, from its beaches to its jungle and varied topography, it is a well conceived tropical paradise. With undead tourists.

The foliage wasn't the only object in the vicinity that was glitchy, as this portion of the bunker wall attests. I thought I'd found an unintentional doorway or window into the bunker, at least from a distance, but it just turns out that the surface textures were buggy.

For all the technical snafus plaguing Dead Island, at its core it is a terrifically fun solo or co-op experience through a well realized island environment. When I wasn't bowling for undead with my pickup, I was practicing my turkey carving skills for Thanksgiving. And thankfully, someone named Slyassassin joined me for the fun and I was grateful for the company.

I returned to Pandora at 10 p.m., just long enough to finally earn my own Deathtrap for more merrymaking carnage. At least my solo journey for the next 45 minutes was accompanied by this on-call, Bullymong eating purveyor of permanent quiet time for unfortunate foes.

Speaking of, this Bullymong at least met his untimely death inside a natural casket made of Pandoran ice. Welcome to the frozen jungle, my popsicle friend. With that, my return visit to Pandora was cut short at 10:46 p.m. I had intended to come back once more but my nemesis sleep had other plans.

So that wraps up my second annual Extra Life marathon. Thanks again to Team GIO organizers and participants for making this year such a memorable effort by Game Informer online members and a record contribution to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. I already can't wait till next year!

And last but not least, a reminder that if you missed out this year, you can still contribute. Team and participant pages will remain on the Extra Life site at least through mid-December. Any size contribution is greatly appreciated! Thank you, and thanks for reading!

comments