Thursday, 22 October 2009

Boredomlands and Dragging-on Age

(Okay, slightly unfair title as I haven't played either yet, but I thought it was too good to pass up)

Here's what this post is really about though. A few weeks ago Gearbox/2K announced that the PC version of Borderlands was going to be put back a week for "optimisation purposes".

This was a lie. Not only are stores getting the PC version at the same time as the console version, but it's clearly complete. People who managed to get hold of a legal copy in the confusion simply can't play it, as Securom forces them not to until the game's official PC release date - which was obviously put back for no good reason whatsoever. Why not go the whole hog and just shut people out from playing your game forever? They can't return their copy, so you'll get the money no matter what. Plus the criticism will be slightly less.

In a similar vein, i.e. delaying PC versions of games and then lying about why, Eurogamer previewed Dragon Age: Origins this week. Note paragraph 4 on the first page:

"...publisher EA started distributing a complete PC review version to press months before its release."

Um... excuse me? The game was finished for its original release date, then? The one you put back claiming Bioware needed more time to finish and polish the game? Bullshit. You (being EA) were terrified of the prospect of a PC game being released months before the console version. You were worried that console would feel left out and just ignore the game when it was finally released, or you were worried about that everyone would pirate it on PC and not buy it on consoles.

To 2K, EA, Bioware and Gearbox: fuck both of you. If Dragon Age had been released when it was supposed to have been I would've got the Special Edition and all the DLC. Now I'll stick with the standard version. And I'm not even going to bother with Borderlands at all now. Thanks guys, you just saved me a lot of money.

- Chris Capel

Monday, 19 October 2009


Yes, we're still here. I've been extremely busy since the last post (doing an English Teaching course, y'know), and the others, well, they're just... themselves.

Anyway, let's talk about some games quickly. In fact one in particular, since I've just finished it: Brütal Legend. After the fantastic Psychonauts (as featured in our Bare Essentials gaming list on the right) the ever-misspelt Tim Schafer and never-misspelt Double Fine have been beavering away on this big homage to the epic heavy metal music of yore.

Despite being advertised everywhere as a free-roaming/driving hack n' slash game, people are going to be quite shocked to discover that that's only the first hour or two. Pretty much all of the rest of the game is a genre that we PC players know exist but console gamers have never heard of, hence why everyone's wrongly referring to it as an RTS game. It's nothing of the sort: it's an Action Strategy game. The biggest comparisons are to Sacrifice and the Reaper third of Giants: Citizen Kabuto. You're right in the middle of the action, but you're commanding troops on the fly too.

And sadly, this is where two things come in: 1. All types of Strategy game are much more at home on the PC because it's far easier to issue orders with the mouse and keyboard, a problem which makes ordering and controlling units very frustrating in Brütal Legend, and 2. Double Fine have no experience of this genre, and it shows.

They break one of the big Golden Rules of Good Gaming: if you get something new, useful, and vitally important, you need to be shown how to use it, and then be forced to do so to make sure you get the hang of it. Brütal Legend does not do this, and it doesn't do it often. If I hadn't been told by Kotaku that Rally Flags existed I never would've used them, and I never would've finished the game.

The style, humour, and story (despite an anticlimactic rushed ending) suck you in, but unless you're an Action Strategy Heavy Metal fan, you'll get frustrated fast. Brütal Legend's easy to fall in love with, but hard to love. At least for me.

- Chris Capel