Thursday, August 8, 2013

August of Games: Day 8 - Borderlands

The soundtrack to Borderlands is a collaboration between several artists, including Raison Varner, Tim Larkin, and the creator of this song (and Tuesday's song), Jesper Kyd. Kyd remains incredible. The general soundtrack to BL1 is good, very well-built to deliver that atmospheric "middle-of-nowhere bandits-everywhere" feeling. BL2's soundtrack is a slicker affair, but as I discuss below, runs itself into the ground by obsessing over being "in-touch" with popular culture - as you might expect by that description, it's weighed down by an abundance of dubstep, to the game's detriment. That's not to say it isn't good, it just isn't the beast the BL1 soundtrack is.
You might notice that this song isn't Ain't No Rest For The Wicked. I want it to be. This game single-handedly put Cage The Elephant on the map thanks to providing the absolutely most-perfect song possible for the job. Short Change Hero doesn't do even half as good a job as ANRftW and the BL1 intro. So why isn't it here? Well, because I've used it twice already on the blog (the only song I did that with!), once on a post and again during September/Historical Songaday.

Developer: Gearbox Studios (2K Games)
Genre (Setting): Post-apocalyptic
Genre (Gameplay): First-person shooter, RPG
What is this game: You are a gun-toting ruffian who is scouring the blasted wasteland Pandora for a legendary alien treasure trove called the Vault, and god damn you are going to murder the fuck out of everything that stands in your general field of view. You want tons and tons of loot and are going to sell so many guns to vending machines. There is a level-up system and you do an absurd number of sidequests. The writing is humorous and often referential, playing with all sorts of tropes from the genre.

What's great about it: It's generally a very tight experience built for the co-op experience, and playing it split-screen with my brother was a hugely fun experience. It's adaptive to a lot of playstyles, with four fairly distinct player characters with their own interesting skill trees. The graphics are this weird cel-shadey thing that actually worked out really well for being weird as well. There's just a sense of style. If you like post-apocalypse stuff, FPS stuff, or loot stuff like Diablo II, this is a good game and you should go play it.

How do I get it: Xbox 360, PS3, Steam. $20.

I can't just not talk about the sequel on this one. Borderlands 2 is a game where you play one of the next batch of Vault Hunters after an evil corporation has taken over the planet, and you're trying to free it. There are more guns and better graphics and it's really good-looking and sounding, but the humor decided to step past being referential and trope-aware to straight-up entering pandering territory - we have a bro for a Claptrap, a steampunk british gentleman, a dubsteppy soundtrack, and overall just responds too strongly to its own public image as the "aware" game. Handsome Jack is well written, Zed and Markus are decently written, Scooter is amazingly over-written to the point of absurdity, and, uh, frankly I'd rather all the other characters would just shut the hell up. But it looks and plays better and as a piece of gameplay it's superior. But the overblown fan-pandering aesthetic just stings it for me (not enough to not like the game, of course).
And now I've talked more about the sequel than the feature. Damn.

EDIT: Oh yeah, I should mention that this is the game that actually cemented Apocalypse World in my mind - it's filled with the right amount of post-apocalyptic tropes that it made everything click.

End Recording,

No comments :

Post a Comment