The Games Of Christmas: December 21st

By RPS on December 21st, 2009 at 2:43 pm.

Post-Apocamas.
In the bleak future of galactic apocalypse there will only be one truth remaining: that of our seasonally festive advent-o-calendar. Anyone who wants to know what the games of the year really are will be forced to travel across the bleak reaches of space, and land on a desert-planet, where the disembodied hand of the one true leader of the Autobots will unerringly point the way to…

Borderlands!

Jim: In some ways Borderlands could have been made for me. Open-ended, post-apocalyptic, with stylised visuals and bangbangbang shooty action. It’s just the kind of mixture of combat thrills and co-op chaos in a wide-open setting that I have always yearned for. What was a genuine surprise for me was that the level-based mechanic – something I generally dislike in games anyway – fitted into the most level-unfriendly gametype, the manshooter. This alone was a great achievement by Gearbox, but the wider world design, the flourish of the art-style, and the sheer bulk of the game, all gave me something to shout about.

It was in multiplayer that the game showed its true colours, however. Racing about in vehicles, fighting flocks of swooping-monsters and screaming “This is Bat Country!” The way in which the game amped up its enemies for your combined firepower was glorious.

There’s a BUT of course, because Borderlands was far from perfect. Even if we ignore the clumsy, unfinished PC version’s numerous faults on release – easy to do now that they’re largely patched and tweaked out – the feeling remains that Borderlands didn’t quite take enough from RPGs for it really register on the All Time Greatness scale. No weapons locker, no way to manage your quest log, even a poor map system. All these things have been done better in other games, usually RPGs, and there was no real excuse for Borderlands not to have learned from them. If they’d managed to port the loot-excess joys of Diablo-style games to the FPS, then why not everything else?

I nit-pick because it is my prerogative, but ultimately this is one of the games that I have enjoyed more than any other in 2009. I’ve spent hours alone with it, and many more hours with co-op chums. It’s telling that it’s one of just a handful of online game that all four of the main RPS editors actually got together to play. That really does count for a lot.

Most interesting, perhaps, is that 2K have recently trademarked “BorderWorlds”. There’s no doubt that whatever Gearbox do next, it’s going to be built on this excellent foundation. I look forward to it.

Kieron: Yeah, as Jim says – in this most divisive of all years for RPS’ staffers, this is one of the very few which brought us together. Not even just playing it – but playing it, at the same, time with one another plus random people from South America. As such, it’s the FPS of the year.

I mean that in both a complimentary and a more backhanded fashion. Yes, definitely the most fun I had with first-person-shootitude in the year of our Lord 09 – give me this over Call of Duty, any fucking day. But it was also the first-person-shooter which most characterised the year. A year where every genre in the world turned into an RPG, whether it wants to (i.e. the more literal adding RPG systems to everything) or not (Heaven help a game which doesn’t come with achievements). A year where cross-development and modern-extra-monetization routes remains a mixed blessing. A year where the whole industry seemed to be torn between the knowledge that doing new things (and then milking it over the next few iterations) is the only way to actually make any real money… but simultaneously being aware that the costs means they can no longer takes the risk. A year when co-op is, critically speaking, now the dominant form of multiplayer – of which Left 4 Dead’s victory-lap was another fine example. A year… oh, you get it. However you cut it, Borderlands was very 2009.

Forget that. This is good work, and at least in a few areas absolutely state of the art. While Borderlands draws on many modern themes, expect to see more games pick up on its own innovations – whether they want to or not. Specifically, expect to see – to I imagine John’s absolute horror – more games realise that the basic XP-track-quests-dialogues of WoW are actually more compulsive than any traditional narrative for the majority of gamers.

Oh, yeah. In more than just its setting, Borderlands could be a a Dark Future indeed.

I dig the hell out of it.

John: Oh gawd, that does horrify me. But I’m also fairly certain Kieron’s absolutely wrong. I’d wager that a significant majority of MMO players don’t ever read the quest text, but instead hammer at “Okay” until the bare bones of the task appear in the summary box. I know that’s how I played Borderlands, anyway. It is, for me, a game about running around and shooting, and I don’t really need a motive for that. Especially when the offered motives are generally nonsense. Perhaps Kieron’s point is (I mean, I could just ask him, but that would mean alt-tabbing windows) that people don’t want to invest in an emotional and complex meta-narrative, but instead be given little chunks of brief story to justify the next task. If so, perhaps that’s partly why I never felt any significant connection with Borderlands.

I did, however, enjoy playing it. And I’m thinking it’s likely to be one of the games I’ll go back to during the Christmas break. It manages to be an interesting and entertaining shooter. However, it’s a shooter with an RPG infection that leaves it constantly having to squirm and scratch at itself in awkward places. I never found the Diablo-esque fun of checking one weapon against another, partly because doing so was just about the most irritating thing in any game this year, and partly because the increments were confusing. The hideous muddle of keyboard and mouse commands, menus requiring five mutant poly-jointed hands to comfortably use, and lack of ease for anything other than firing a weapon, stank of a game that had been made in a bubble.

But despite the genuine anger I feel toward how bloody terribly the menus and commands were put together, I still really want to go back to play it some more. A huge part of that is how beautiful it looks. As much as we all know you don’t need great graphics to be a great game, it really doesn’t hurt to have them. Plus it has a very pleasing sense of being silly. And like I keep saying, running around and shooting is a tremendous amount of fun. I do recommend it, really I do. But I’m still really cross with it too.

Alec: I played the Xbox version of this first – a work thing, not a preference thing – and my little heart broke. It wasn’t bad, not even slightly, but it felt wrong – like trying to eat spaghetti with a spoon, or trying to kiss a lobster. Obviously I’m hugely indentured towards the mouse and keyboard as killing tools of choice, but even so – headshots didn’t seem to shoot in the head, trying to get a bead on a bounding worg (or whatever they’re called) was tiresome, and most of all my right hand hurt like hell from having to press a button to manually pick up every single cash drop. My hands. MY BEAUTIFUL PIANO PLAYER’S HANDS. (I can’t play piano. But former PC Gamer editor Ross Atherton once told me my hands look like I can).

So I scored it 8 for an Xbox magazine (a scandalous number to assign to a big-name game in that strange, fierce world), then grumbled and procrastinated when team RPS tried to arrange co-op games. Then, after a lot of networking headaches, I did join one and Lo. LO!

Gearbox might want a big greasy dollop of the money-goo contemporaries such as Epic and Valve have hoovered up from consoleland, but Borderlands is such a PC game. It’s fast, it requires precision and it hangs around obsessive looting: gamepads have yet to truly master these things. (It also looks a hell of a lot better on PC, but I don’t wanna be Graphics Snob Moany-Man). In turn, I felt fast and precise and like an obsessive looter. I.e. Borderlands achieved exactly what it supposed to, and that I was briefly tricked into believing it had failed at : a novel approach to something that, realistically speaking, is quite ordinary. There is nothing wrong with ordinary – in this case, it’s giving me exactly what I want. To whit, shooting’n’looting.

It wasn’t really about the weapons in the end – all those inflated, confusing numbers that had us expecting to have a pistol that shoots milk one minute and a sniper rifle that fires nukes the next. It’s a raw joy to be given something weird (my bestests were the revolver that grew its own ammo and a rocket-firing shotgun), but really it’s just about wanting /better/, and duly being given better. Borderlands does that often and at speed. That sustained carrot and stick of over-strong enemies and the hope of the tools to defeat them: it’s an old, old trick, older than sausages or Terry Wogan, but when someone gets it as right as Blands did, it’s chemical magic.

I’m annoyed the DLC has focused on adding new content rather than fixing problems, such as the rudimentary co-op, the flaky networking, the limited inventory and the lack of cash auto-loot, but such is the way of things. Much as I dug it, Blands does feel a little like a proof of concept game in some regards: I’m expecting genuinely incredible things from the inevitable sequel.

, .

66 Comments »

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  1. Sweedums says:

    just came off borderlands to see this :D

    i managed to open all the right ports last night to allow me to host (as i cant play around with ports in my halls at uni) and havent really stopped playing it since. even with random people its a lot of fun in co-op, but most of all with friends for whom im waiting to get home from their Uni’s so we can kick some ass together… FUN!

  2. Ian says:

    I really need to get back to Borderlands again. yet another game I seem to have sort of drifted away from for no good reason.

    Unlike John, I quite enjoy comparing guns and such. Not because I’m a min/max-er or anything like that, I just like seeing what sort of stuff I can have at my current level. It’s especially good when you find some awesome loot that’s a level or two ahead of you. Extra incentive to shoot things really hard in the face until you’re allowed to use. Mmmmm.

  3. Kieron Gillen says:

    If kissing a lobster is wrong then I don’t want to be right.

    KG

  4. Daedren says:

    Alec: You should know that Italians often eat pasta, particularly the spaghetti kind, with a spoon. Well, it’s used as a secondary utensil, with the fork ‘spinning’ the pasta and using the spoon as a base to make it into a tidy and delicious ball of edible proportions. As for kissing a lobster, I can’t say.

    But yeah, I’ve never liked FPS’s on consoles anyway, save for Halo and some old fashioned Bond. So, your analogy is understandable, though I’m not sure why you’d want to kiss a lobster. Eating spaghetti or some other long-noodled pasta with solely a spoon could be frustrating, but at least the situation is feasible. Though, as I analyze it more, you could probably cut the pasta with the edge of the spoon and make it quite edible as well. I still can’t figure out the lobster, though. Would you kiss a lobster in the water or bring it out into the air to kiss it? Either outcome (that is, kissing the lobster in or out of water) has a high pinch-factor risk, though most would agree out of the water would be preferable, as if that sneaky lobster tried to latch on to your nose or something at least you could lob it into the pot of boiling water next to you. In the water, good luck. Plus, you’d get wet, in sea-water even.

    So, in perhaps the longest and most bizarre reply to a witty and harmless analogy to date here at RPS, I would say that the spoon analogy is a fair one, but the lobster thing is just plain weird. With spaghetti, most people would agree that you can and would want to eat this, so wanting to enjoy said meal (pasta) but being limited to your normal or preferred utensil (a fork) would be similar to wanting to play Borderlands (the pasta) but being limited or forced to play on a medium not optimal, the XBOX. (the spoon, where as the PC would be the fork).

    For the lobster in this analogy, I guess we can say that Borderlands is indeed “the Lobster” – perhaps we could assume that the person in question, being of sound mind and of normal character, would like to either befriend the lobster or eat the lobster, with the latter being more common in hominid/crustacean relationships. Using this logic, the ‘kiss’ would then be interpreted as the XBOX, as it is the undesirable medium to play Borderlands. Perhaps I’ve mistaken this analogy, though, and you really want to be kissing (kissing = Borderlands) but it’s the lobster that’s out of place. In this scenario the lobster would be the XBOX, as it could be you’re more partial to kissing shrimp or maybe a seahorse or something. In either scenario I can’t see the lobster coming out very well, unless the off chance that you intend or have befriended a lobster, but wouldn’t want your friendship to be compromised by any sort of romantic relationship. That’s understandable, and though lobsters are normally known to be very loyal and faithful lovers, I could understand the difficulties of this inter-species affair.

    Anyway, I’m just ranting now. I think I speak for a lot of people (read: me) when I ask what your intentions are with the aforementioned lobster, if only to appease curiosity.

    And that, folks, is what we get when we drink too much at lunch.

    (Thank God I didn’t go BELAIR)

    • Premium User Badge

      Fede says:

      Alec: You should know that Italians often eat pasta, particularly the spaghetti kind, with a spoon.

      What?!? We Italians *NEVER* ever for any reason eat spaghetti with a spoon. That would be horrible! Atrocious! How can you think so badly of us?!?

      :P

      No, seriously, I’m italian and I have never seen an italian eating spaghetti (or helping himself as you described) with a spoon. But lots of uncivilized foreigners do, before they are taught how to eat properly.
      One could consider eating with a spoon very small kinds of pasta, but nothing else.

    • Daedren says:

      @Fede: As I said, not “with” a spoon, but a fork – with a spoon helping to aid in rolling the pasta.

      I lived in Italy 5 years (Friuli baby!) and my wife is Italian. It surprised me too. Mainly it’s down in the south, I think – I never saw it up north, but all the times I’m in Sicily or with her family (her Dad is from Agrigento) some of them always break out a spoon for long spaghetti or angel hair.

      I called them out the first time I said that, saying “WTF? Real Italians don’t eat pasta with a spoon to help!” They laughed at me and then shoved more food at me.

      But yeah, spaghetti with only a spoon would be plain silly.

    • Premium User Badge

      Fede says:

      Yes, I understood what you meant, and that’s how americans eat spaghetti usually. But I really have no words to express my feelings about this, but “The horror! The horror!”

    • dadioflex says:

      I live with two Italians. They scoffed at the idea of eating pasta or spaghetti with a spoon. You may have found an Italian family that learned to eat pasta from Charlie Chaplin or a cartoon.

      I eat a lot of spaghetti, never felt the need for a spoon. Weird.

    • Ashurbanipal says:

      My parents come from Italy. My father comes from Sicily, my mother from Le Marche region. Both eat spaghetti with spoon and fork.

      My father, like many older Sicilians, is a very stern, traditional man, who yells at me if I cut a block of cheese the wrong way, so he’d respond quite aggressively if he was told he wasn’t eating spaghetti right.

    • Martin Kingsley says:

      Mmm, my Sicilian mother insisted loudly from the kitchen for many years that WITH THE SPOON TWIRL IT TWIRL IT GOOD was the way, and looked at me sternly over her spectacles if I even attempted to do it any other way, and considered the table unset for pasta dishes if I didn’t supply everyone with a spoon.

    • Daedren says:

      Glad I got a little backup from some fellow Sicilian / family experiences! Thought I might be going crazy, or that my in-laws were in some weird Italian pasta cult.

      @Ashurbanipal: My father in law is the same way, in fact his whole family is like that when it comes to eating food. ;)

    • TeeJay says:

      From The New York Times:

      THE SPOON QUESTION, OR HOW TO EAT PASTA LIKE AN EXPERT
      http://www.nytimes.com/1982/05/19/garden/the-spoon-question-or-how-to-eat-pasta-like-an-expert.html

    • Tei says:

      Re: pasta

      I am updating the wikipedia article. You eat spaguetty with lobster hands.

  5. Misnomer says:

    I agree with every assessment of this game above, especially the parts about how they need to fix networking.

    Overall, I feel like the most disturbing part is how I want more levels. I played through Bioshock twice almost immediately because I just loved exploring the world and looking at the Art Deco designs. I have no played 1.75 Playthroughs with my level 50, have a level 36 I have done in co-op with a buddy, and another level 18 (all different classes). While I suppose this amounts to replay, I feel like I go back to redo classes and enjoy co-op with my buddies….not to see more of the world. I feel like I have already seen every nook and cranny and there is little thought that I might have missed something.

    Steam tells me I accomplished this feeling in 70 hours. While that is not bad, I know I would gladly head back in if there was more carrot and stick. I have fun every time I load it up, but I have lost that urge to play I had pre-50. It makes me hate myself a little for becoming the sort of level whore that game companies think I am. At heart, I don’t do achievements because collecting them means nothing to me, and getting the highest stats weapons and “best loadout” in any game is something that bores me to think about. Yet, in Borderlands I never want the leveling to stop. I want them to let me level even without getting more powerful…. just something to dumbly justify going back and playing Old Haven for the 15th time rather than playing some other game.

    That all being said, thank you 2K for putting out another original title. While I am sure Borderlands is going to be a franchise now, I will serious consider any new IP 2K wants to tell me about.

  6. Severian says:

    Borderlands is a fantastic game, but I have to say that I have enjoyed playing it much more single-player than online co-op. I am one of those weirdos that actually reads all the quest dialogue, obsessively compares guns (in all the vending machines as well), tries to maximize cash, optimize my quest order to minimize travel time, etc. None of this is reasonably done in multiplayer. Furthermore, I’ve found Bordlerlands (more so on the 2nd playthrough) to be a challenging tactical experience if played solo. I like to approach bandit hide-outs carefully, and think through how I’m going to massacre the lot of them. In co-op, it’s more rush, rush, rush, kill, kill, kill, oh that guy is down, i better heal him, oh i don’t have time to pull out my sniper, oh those guys are rushing the weapon box, i’m not going to get a rare item, etc. etc. Solo is much more satisfying.

  7. Jacques says:

    I’m pretty meh about Borderlands, sure, the weapons are pretty crazy, but they’re not the “one shot and every single motherfucker around me dies” kind of weapons, and that’s seriously disappointing.
    If HG:L could manage it, why the hell can’t Borderlands?

    • Nick says:

      What’s fun about killing everything in one shot?

    • Jacques says:

      Nick: If you have to ask that you’ve clearly never played D2 with a well kitted out character.

    • Jeremy says:

      Or Torchlight from level 1 to level Forever.

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      Wisq says:

      I’m pretty meh about Borderlands, sure, the weapons are pretty crazy, but they’re not the “one shot and every single motherfucker around me dies” kind of weapons, and that’s seriously disappointing.

      You haven’t seen the sniper rifle I got, then. “PPZ7 Liquid Orion”, orange-rarity sniper rifle. 247 damage per shot, 2.7 shots per second, 15 shots per clip (boosted to 25 by skills), x3 shock effect.

      It’s a sniper rifle that fires like an assault rifle, and creates (AoE) shock explosions almost all the time. If I miss, then — I kid you not — the shot bounces off the ground / wall / etc., splits in three, and hits something somewhere else, creating three shock explosions. Or maybe it’s always firing three at a time, I dunno.

      Ironically, “I dunno” pretty much describes it, since I can’t see anything when I’m firing it, the shock explosions are so thick. I’ve killed mini-bosses without realising it (e.g. Jaynistown boss) due to just firing until I stop seeing damage numbers, only having a split second to wonder why it’s taking so long before they die.

      So yeah, Borderlands can give you some pretty awesome weapons. But yeah, the randomness can get a bit frustrating if it doesn’t work in your favour.

    • Jacques says:

      Wisq: What level are the mobs you’re killing though? Are they the same level as you/higher/lower?

  8. Heliosicle says:

    Just reinstalled it, I’m wondering whether to break my “I WONT GIVE IN TO DLC” promise to myself for Dr Ned and the new thing…

  9. Morti says:

    I played this, on PC, from lvl 1, with 3 buddies, 4-player cooping the hell out of Borderlands and.. it’s such a great game. Until the ending.

    “O hai, u haz reeched tha vault. Now fuck off, not yours”

    • Torgen says:

      Yeah, it’s like someone forgot to add the loot table to the End Boss, and you’re getting default skag whelp loot. As far as the game as a whole, I think I like Old Haven the best. The first time meeting the Crimson Lance, who are professional soldiers and not wasteland bandits, with the armor and firepower that implies including running up against the first NPCs that use player skills (and OH so glad they don’t have Hunters or Sirens, just Soldier skills.) But what I love most is the vicious street fighting in the twisting alleyways.

      Also: I want one of those turreted Crimson Lance buggies, terribly. (Sorry, Scooter.)

    • P7uen says:

      @Morti
      Not that it was the most engaging story ever, but thanks for the spoiler anyway.

  10. Osmosisch says:

    [quote=The Article]now that they’re largely patched and tweaked out[/quote]
    Yerwhat?

    • invisiblejesus says:

      @Osmosich: I think he’s counting the tweaks you can implement with the player-made config tool when he says “tweaked out”.

  11. CMaster says:

    Borderlands has been a big bag full of fun for me and a couple of friends. I’m hoping 2 more will get it over/after Christmas. It’s not a great game though, not one that I will be telling stories of for years. THe plot is meh, the enemies while often good get repetitive and the world, while gorgeous is shallow and engaging. The skill system is good but unspectacular. The difficulty is too easy for the entirety of the first play through, and doesn’t get hard enough on playthrough 2.5

    Also, there are still some interface issues that they need to fix. E.g. not being able to mouse-over Sniper level (have to use arrow keys), or if you use arrow keys to select an item to sell, you can’t confirm with the mouse and vice versa. Also, public coop is a complete waste of time – odds are you’ll end up with people using hacked weapons that instagib Superbad Defenders.

    Anyway I really like it, and hope some developers with a bit more soul and skill than Gearbox start making semi-open-world multiplayer shooters with character customization.

  12. 1stGear says:

    I want to buy Borderlands but I’m a friendless loner and thus have no one to play it with. Can you just hop into pub games or does the single-player stand well enough on its own to make it enjoyable?

    • Severian says:

      1st Gear: absolutely great for single-player. I was concerned about this as well, since I read several reviews saying that co-op was necessary for full enjoyment. As I comment above, having played both single and coop quite a bit, I can honestly say that I find single-player much more enjoyable.

    • PeopleLikeFrank says:

      You can hop in to pub games. It’s decent enough in SP, and then you wouldn’t have to deal with the jaw-droppingly terrible net code. It’s much more fun with friends though, since it’s basically silly-shooty action light on plot.

    • Premium User Badge

      Vandelay says:

      I ordered it from CDWOW and encouraged a mate to do the same. My copy arrived just under 3 weeks later, but my friend’s copy still hasn’t arrived (now 4 weeks.) He ordered it to his Uni address too, so he won’t be getting his copy for at least another two weeks now. So, I have had to solo it and I’m very much enjoying.

      There are a couple of problems you may want to watch out for. Just completed an area that had a fair few enemies in vehicles. Taking them on in your own vehicle can be real pain, as you have to keep switching out of the drivers seat to shoot the mounted gun. For the most part this just breaks up the flow of the game, but the boss became incredibly hard without a partner. I think you can also get better loot with more people playing, as you face tougher enemies.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      I gotta disagree, I found the game pretty underwhelming in single player. Different strokes and all that. It sucks for me, as even with the correct ports opened I haven’t been able to connect to multiplayer since I last reinstalled Windows. I’m waiting on the patch that’s supposed to fix multiplayer issues, but Gearbox seem to be taking their sweet time with it.

    • neems says:

      You shouldn’t have to switch seats to use the gun on the cars – or maybe it’s an option in the menus somewhere? I just drove around rocket gunning the bandits.

  13. Shalrath says:

    I feel totally alone in disliking this game. It’s the 3rd shooter I’ve ever owned that I didn’t beat. I was just so tired of the awful netplay, the impossibility of getting a game with your friends working, Game Fucking Spy, and the fact that if whomever was hosting your game was, god forbid, not running off a good/great desktop, you were playing at a crawl. Friend on a laptop behind you in levels? Make him catch up, because you can’t join his game.

    And all the little things that wouldn’t normally bugged me added up and just made it impossible for me. 55 FOV or whatever it was, the Halo jumping (once I realised I could just jump and be nearly invulnerable I had to actively make sure i wasn’t doing that, having to add toggle aiming and turn OFF toggle crouching, good God, I do less scripting at WORK than I did on that game. In fact, trying to get it to run like Average FPS Game was more work than work is!

    I really wanted to like it, but int he end I think my friends and I made it all to like, early 30’s? I’m not sure, it’s been a long time.

  14. PeopleLikeFrank says:

    Fun game and all, but didn’t get past level 20 or so. My friends all abandoned it, since we tried absolutely everything to get the networking working, and it was still basically Voodoo. It usually took 20-30 minutes of creating games, trying to join, quitting, starting single player and inviting, restarting, etc., etc., to even get a game going, and then weird lag build-ups for everyone but the host would eventually force quitting the game and then going through all that nonsense again. Nobody can be bothered until they fix it. The SP is OK, but having had the first taste in co-op, it’s just not compelling enough at this point.

    So yeah, good creative work (though perhaps lacking some depth for longevity), but amazingly incompetent on a lot of the technical aspects. To the point where it’s a “gallon of ice-cream, gallon of manure” for most people I know.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Indeed. My friends and I gave up on the damn thing. One of us finished it in single player and reported the end was memorably terrible, the rest of us didn’t bother, so great was our disappointment.

  15. gulag says:

    Rubbish ending did a lot to sour the whole thing.

    Badly ‘polished for PC’. Rand Pitchford has about as much credibility as Chemical Ali.

    Still loved the incredible artwork.

  16. RyePunk says:

    Great game, playing through the first DLC which takes the humor a bit further (see macaroni hat were-skag) but I just have one question.
    Where is the auto-loot cash and ammo patch?

  17. bookwormat says:

    I like the game. The AI is really dumb, and there is little to do after you done with it. But until then, this game is a lot of fun. And i don’t want it to be “more RPG”. It’s RPG enough for me. I can even laugh about the humor. That’s how I am.

    The content in the addons is fine for me. Unfortunately, the price seems unreasonable high, so I had to pass on this one. I mean even horse armor had a better price/value relation than Dr. Ned.

  18. Daedren says:

    @Fede: As I said, not “with” a spoon, but a fork – with a spoon helping to aid in rolling the pasta.

    I lived in Italy 5 years (Friuli baby!) and my wife is Italian. It surprised me too. Mainly it’s down in the south, I think – I never saw it up north, but all the times I’m in Sicily or with her family (her Dad is from Agrigento) some of them always break out a spoon for long spaghetti or angel hair.

    I called them out the first time I said that, saying “WTF? Real Italians don’t eat pasta with a spoon to help!” They laughed at me and then shoved more food at me.

    But yeah, spaghetti with only a spoon would be plain silly.

  19. Vinraith says:

    Even when people talk about Borderlands favorably, I get the overwhelming sense I should wait for a good sale. I’m planning to do just that, though I’m itching to get my hands on the thing for some co-op.

    • Jad says:

      Nothing wrong with waiting for a sale. I only got it at release because I went in for the four-pack pre-order, which came to $33 per person. Cross your fingers for it to come up on the Steam Christmas sale (or some other site’s holiday sales, too).

    • CMaster says:

      Don’t recall where you are from, Vinrath, but the latest price SavyGamer had for Borderlands was ~£13

    • Vinraith says:

      @CMaster

      Unfortunately I’m in North America, so Savvygamer seldom helps me out (at least with physical shipment sales). That’s a VERY nice deal though (you UK folks seem to have had several of those lately, which is only fair considering how often it goes the other way) and I appreciate your mentioning it.

    • Blather Blob says:

      If you’re going to wait for a sale, wait for the inevitable gold/GOTY edition too. Even if you got the base game for free, you’d probably end up paying the full $50 for DLC anyway. And it’s got such a unique art style that age isn’t really going to cut down its effect much. BTW, it was $20 from Amazon and GameStop on Black Friday, so maybe it’s going to follow a similar pricing schedule as Left4Dead did this last year.

  20. Dante says:

    You know, every time I fail an illegible CAPTCHA test, a little part of me wonders if I really am a robot.

    The only shame is that you guys didn’t bring back your old ‘do maths to post’ version.

  21. El Stevo says:

    How do you write these things? Literally one after the other?

  22. gulag says:

    RPS Pro-Spoon, Anti-Pasta agenda has been apparent for far too long!

  23. malkav11 says:

    I really like Borderlands a lot, and I wish the PC implementation were less horrifically awful. It is a credit to the game that, unlike Saints Row 2, this has only moderately interfered with my enjoying the game a whole bunch anyway. But I disagree wholly with the idea that most of its problems have been patched or tweaked away. They’re almost all still dashing madly in front of you, trying their best to ruin your enjoyment.

    And then they had to go and compound things by a) continuing to release content on a delayed timer for PC, and b) saddling said content with ridiculous activation-limit DRM.

    • Blather Blob says:

      I think it’s less the fault of the underlying game and more that Saint’s Row 2 had cripplingly bad performance, making it notably worse than the console version, while Borderlands is simply too exactly like the console version in many aspects. But I think Borderlands is catching too much flack for its “bad port”, and would like to put forward the Unreal engine as a better target. I can’t think of a single UE3-powered FPS that doesn’t suffer from low resolution textures (something Borderlands made happily irrelevant), a UI that works poorly with the mouse, that trademark texture pop-in, a default of a low FOV, and multiplayer tied to a gamespy account. Assuming you can even get networking going, and that is much worse in Borderlands. I’ve given up on it and turned to a 3rd party program, GameRanger, to make it work.

  24. Starky says:

    Gamespy is so poor that I actually long for Borderlands to use GFWL instead.
    Steamworks matchmaking would be a too much to dream for.

    Seriously, it’s 2009, having a matchmaking system that lets you add friends by name, or account or what-have-you, and then join a game with them at a few clicks is standard…
    How can Borderlands fail so hard.

    What I don’t get is why they didn’t use GFWL, given they already had for the Xbox, you’d think it would be easier for them to port to it than to gamespy…

    Also, someone at gearbox needs to open up a networking for dummies book and learn WTF UPnP is.

    Other than that, good game – not great, but good.

  25. postmanX3 says:

    Borderlands’s PC port is still so atrociously unsupported and console-ish, I find it damn well near unplayable. Maybe it’s too much to expect all my games to play with the underlying elegance of Valve’s creations, but some thing about this game just felt… rough, if you will. The game is great fun, worth every penny, but there’s just something

    And Gamespy. Oh GOD Gamespy. The stuff of nightmares.

  26. MrB says:

    REAL MEN slurp their spaghetti cold, straight out of a can. A can that they opened with their teeth.

    Borderlands was ever so slightly above average. The map system sucked, as soon as I unlocked the second area I tried looking at it’s map while still in Fyrestone. Alas I could not. This became a larger issue when around the Rust Commons East/West, not knowing which route would be quicker- to just drive through this gate and realise I still have to drive forever, or teleport to some other place and drive from there, only to realise it would have been quicker to just have went through the original gate in the first place.

    Much was missing from the game. A “storage chest” of the like would have been great so I didn’t have to lug around all the novelty weapons and fill up inventory space and risk selling them. A way of seeing the details of the items picked up by other players would have been great too. Most people will just loot everything and never consider that you might NEED something.

  27. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    So.. since when are achievements a part of the rpg genre? Personally think it has more to do with the medium of the console and especially that Xbox community thingie I hear about. Achievements add nothing to an rpg. Nothing. They’re just like words from an insane man. Meaningless, and add nothing.. although possibly at risk of being a danger to the greater whole.

    I mean, rpgs are about immersion. Achievements are metagaming things, like highscores.

  28. Morph says:

    Most fun I’ve had all year. This is the game that had me realising how great co-op can be (despite all the connection problems – lost hours of play time because of them).

    A lot of problems of course. The difficulty scaled poorly towards the end when it started becoming super easy with 3 of us.

    Best bit: Street fighting in Old Haven. The sudden change in setting, the sudden cramped conditions, was wonderful.

    And Nine-Toes of course.

  29. Daffs says:

    Just ’cause I’ve seen it arise on a couple of articles now…
    Have y’all been using the term meta-narrative all along? I kind of hesitantly used it in something I wrote about TF2 (at http://www.alex-spencer.co.uk, under the Christmas Batman, if anyone’s interested), thinking I’d maybe made the word up.

    Have I just been subconciously absorbing/ripping-off yet more stuff from you?
    Bugger.

  30. Tei says:

    What I can say? I have more hours on Borderlands than on comparetivelly much better and longer games. I have replayed a lot. Why? I have no idea. But firing the game, joining a pub game, and doing some pew pew in Borderlands is often satisfying. My favorite monster is these spider-ant things. Give me a good horde, and a soldier guy. Good times :-)

  31. Premium User Badge

    TRS-80 says:

    I had quite a bit of fun playing this on Linux, until the 1.1 patch added SecuROM to the Steam version and now it doesn’t launch :-(

    • The Drag says:

      SecuROM with Steam? INSANITY

    • invisiblejesus says:

      OK, I’ve asked this before and haven’t gotten an answer, but is there any evidence that Borderlands sans DLC actually has active, installed SecuROM now? My understanding had been that the files to support it were downloaded but it wasn’t actually installed. Does anyone have any actual evidence suggesting otherwise?

    • Premium User Badge

      TRS-80 says:

      invisiblejesus: The best evidence I saw was running Borderlands.exe with a SecuROM debug switch, which I unfortunately cannot find now. Then again, people were saying they running programs SecuROM doesn’t like and Borderlands at the same time. So it’s there, but perhaps not actively defending unless the DRM is installed. Either way, I can’t play the main game (and don’t have the DLC) in Linux since the 1.1 patch, and the error has been seen in other games using SecuROM.

  32. The Drag says:

    I got hooked on Borderlands with a friend. Went to buy it on Steam. Waited all night for the blasted thing to download. 24 hours later, it was still saying that it was “unavailable”. I’m just wrapping up the second install now. /groan