Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Game Diary: Everybody's got one

The world is full of arseholes.  Arseholes who insult a random passer by just because they happened to cross their path.  Arseholes who start ranting at the conductor on the train home to turn the air conditioning off and then start swearing and ranting at the other passengers when they don't get their own way.  Arseholes at work who try and place the blame on you when it is very clear that they are the root of the problem. Arseholes on the internet who send game directors death threats when they announce their game is going to be a Wii-U exclusive.

Yes folks, this week has been quite a week.  You know, many people claim that video games promote and encourage violent behaviour - actually, if I didn't have them as an outlet for all the pent up anger and hatred that these arseholes have engendered throughout the day, I would probably have resorted to murder and/or suicide by now.  Games like the wonderful Torchlight 2 and Borderlands 2, which are the focus of this weeks article.

Firstly, Torchlight 2.  I have long been a champion of this game for several reasons.  Firstly, I loved the original both on the PC and on XBLA because it neatly filled a Diablo 3 shaped hole at the time, and was a good game with plenty of its own good ideas to boot.  Secondly, it was only $15. A few things held it back from being a top tier game - the lack of multiplayer and the difficulty level which was too easy even on the toughest setting. Both of these things have been addressed, with the sequel now supporting up to 6 players, and multiple difficulty settings each more demanding than the last.  I initially went for Normal, but after a few hours it wasn't really doing it for me so I started a new character on Veteran.  This offers a satisfying challenge throughout Act I of the game and then proceeds to ramp up significantly throughout Act II to the point where I was dying dozens of times in a particular dungeon.

This isn't really an issue though because there is no wear and tear on equipment to worry about, and with smart use of Waypoint Portals you can negate any death penalty completely. Bosses also retain the same amount of health if you die and return, which means you can win simply by whittling away at their health bar with each life.  This is probably my one main complaint with the game so far, because this takes away any need for skill from the boss battles. In Diablo 3, if you die during a boss fight you will have to do the whole thing again, so you need to stay on your toes, use your skills properly and stay alive. As a result, when you do finally defeat them it feels extremely satisfying.  The way Torchlight 2 is designed means it's more of a war of attrition and the only thing you're likely to be thinking is "thank god that fight is over".

I do like the character classes though - of which there are four - and you can play them in several different ways, too.  For example as an Outlander you can choose to dual wield pistols, pack a shotgun, carry a cannon or wield a bow.  Each of these have their own abilities on the skill tree. Myself, I went for the shotgun option, because although it has a short range and slow firing rate it packs a punch and damages multiple enemies at once.  Plus it's just so satisfying to blow the shit out of a bunch of skeletons or annoying little rat guys!

Now for Borderlands 2.  I only completed the original game about a month ago so it is still fairly fresh in my mind.  You get a bit set in your ways towards the end of the game and used to being incredibly overpowered, so going back to a weak character and coming up against far smarter enemies is something of a shock initially. You can't help but notice how great the game looks though, much much prettier than the first game.

I think the writer of the game thinks he is much funnier than he actually is - or maybe my sense of humour just doesn't match up to his.  I found the opening sections of the game with a lot of dialogue from Clap Trap and Handsome Jack to be more annoying than laugh out loud funny.  Most of the funny bits in the first game were quite subtle - things that quests had you doing or the odd one liner from an NPC.  This time everything is much more in your face, and I find it all a little bit overdone.

The game is still fun regardless, and of course laying waste to dozens of bandits or bullymongs with the ludicrous weapon of your choice is the perfect antidote when the many arseholes of the world start to get you down!  I will hopefully be back soon with the second part of my promised Level-5 developer profile.  In the meantime, I have people to shoot, weapons to loot!

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