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BorderlandscoverI have now played Borderlands for 14 hours. I’m at level 23 and I just entered New Haven. I looked up online about how far I’m into the game and apparently, I’m somewhere around half way. This worries me because the story has been essentially non-existent. I don’t want to say much because I don’t want to spoil anything and I want to go in depth in my actual review but essentially, I am looking for this secret vault and am doing favors for the locals to gain their trust / get clues on where the vault might be. There have been some messages of some people telling me to stop searching but that’s about it. The story hasn’t changed since I’ve started playing.

A lot of the characters in the game have something that makes them interesting to hear from, such as a cripple with a shotgun or a redneck mechanic, and a lot of this comes from the good voice acting. However, you don’t spend enough time with these characters to really grow to love them. Also, since most of your interactions with these characters is through voice messages, it makes the few interactions even less impactful.

The gameplay hasn’t changed at all since I last wrote about it. However, while before I found myself not like certain weapon categories like the shotgun, I have found uses for them now. I’ve realized that one of the reasons the shooting feels so good is because each category of weapon offers a different kind of satisfying feel. Snipers can kill enemies in one well placed shot, shotguns can make enemies recoil, and SMGs can whittle away life quickly if you have a strong enough gun. I’m still haven’t trouble finding a good use of assault rifles but I like how each gun type truly doesn’t have a use for certain situations.

Another reason the shooting’s great is the guns themselves. The design of the guns in my opinion aren’t as varied and cool looking as maybe they’re supposed to be. However, they are cool when you aim. The designs of the aiming reticles are more inventive and varied than most games. Aiming lets you see through the gun’s sights or through the scope and it’s really satisfying to have someone in your line of fire. You shoot, see the flashes coming from the gun and then see the numbers pop up above the enemy’s head. That’s the other thing too. Having that hit confirmation of hit points removed show up as you shoot enemies is really satisfying. It feels that OCD side of me that wants to do things exact and efficiently.

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In terms of progressing, I’ve noticed that the skill points you earn each time you level up actually don’t help you that much. The real upgrades come from just the base stats being updated from leveling up as well as the new weapons you earn. I’ve been more experimental with the weapons I keep and elemental effects can really make a difference. Reload rate is also one that’s really important and I wish it was a statistic that the game listed flat out.

Unfortunately, repetition is really starting to set in. At this point, I HAVE to listen to something else to continue having fun with the game and I can’t play too much before having to stop. The missions, though rewarding, are just not varied enough. The fact that the environments all kind of look the same also doesn’t help. I’ve actually taken a couple of days off and have started playing another game (Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood) to break up the repetition. Borderlands feels like a game that you grind on and play when you need a break from the main game that you’re playing.

Those are my thoughts now of Borderlands. I haven’t had a chance to play multiplayer so that is what I want to do next. If anyone wants to play Borderlands on Steam, my username is Colorwind. Remember that I’m level 23 right now so I would like to play with someone the same level as me. However, I do want to play with someone a lower level than me and a higher level than me so I can see what the game does with that. Until next time, peace and love, gamers and players!









header_292x136So I’ve played Borderlands now for several hours. I’ve gotten to level 18 and I’m about to go after Sledge. I’ve played Borderlands in the past on my 360 and even got to the second area. So I’ve played further than this. However, as I’m sticking to the PC version now, I’ll focus on that.

When I first started the game, I noticed some screen tearing and blurry cut scenes. I went into the menu to see if I can fix it and was unable to. So then I searched online for a solution and found out there are some graphical settings that aren’t in the in-game menu. You need to go into the config file and screw with that in order to turn on things like Vsync and disable mouse smoothing. So Borderlands leaves something to be desired in terms of PC options.

Once I fixed all of that though, the game ran pretty well. Using Bandicam, I saw that the game ran at a consistent 60 frames per second. I have noticed that when stuff gets crazy sometimes, the frame rate suffers. However, it doesn’t last long. I’ve also seen some blurry textures here and there (grass and weeds don’t look good close up) but overall, Borderlands runs great and looks great too, especially for a now five year old game.

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The controls in Borderlands feel really good. Moving around and shooting with a mouse and keyboard feels really good, better than my time with the game on a Xbox 360 controller. I like the different effects some of the guns have on enemies, such as exploding on contact or setting them on fire. However, the models themselves are nothing amazing as far as I have seen so far. So far, the only thing that looks vaguely cool is when a gun is a pretty shade of blue that I like. Of course this is subjective but I mostly just keep the gun that’s more powerful and I keep one gun per gun category.

A quick thing I want to mention is the inventory menu. Sorting items and scrolling through text boxes is done with the Page Up and Page Down buttons. It’s awkward and I don’t see an option to change this. I did manage to go into the input files and allow the mouse scroll wheel to scroll through text boxes but I still can’t change the sort function.

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So what about the gameplay? So far I’m enjoying myself but I have some caveats. First off, I haven’t played with someone else in co-op yet and I picked the Siren class. Magic classes always appeal to me. The game essentially assigns you missions and you do them in whatever order you want (past the first 10 or so missions). A lot of them are collect these parts, kill this person or reach this area. Along the way, you’ll have to fight the wildlife or bandits in the area. Shooting things feels good. I especially like it when you shoot something in the head and get a critical hit or even better, when you kill them with a critical hit to the head and their head explodes.

However, the gameplay doesn’t really change and it gets repetitive rather quickly. However, it doesn’t get so repetitive that it doesn’t feel rewarding. You just need something to break up the same feeling. At this point, I’ll bring up that while the sound effects of the guns and the animals are well done, the music, or lack thereof, is boring. It doesn’t help the repetitive nature of the game. So I’ve been muting the game and listening to music and podcasts while playing and it’s helped things move along. I’ve played most of this game while listening to something else and I’ve been really enjoying myself doing that. It’s that kind of game.

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One last thing I’ll mention is I did run into what I’m sure is a glitch. In the hideout where you get the key to Sledge’s place, I ran into one grunt who was clearly overpowered. I had already gotten the key and defeated the boss in the area and was just trying to get out of the area and there was this one henchmen that kept killing me over and over. He was the same level as me and I was able to take out the other henchmen in the area with little problem but this guy killed me over 20 times before I got lucky and killed him right before I died again. It hasn’t happened since so I’m deeming it a glitch.

So those are my thoughts so far. I’ll write a 2nd Impressions piece when I’ve played enough to write something substantial. Eventually, when I’ve played through the game and the DLC (maybe) 100%, I’ll write a comprehensive review of the game with a mind for not only the quality of the game but from the perspective of a completionist and a consumer.









I’m going to try something different. I’ve noticed that a lot of reviews of video games don’t go into enough detail as to why the game in question is fun or enjoyable. They talk about how the game excels or fails in certain aspect but not into great lengths. There’s rarely examples or personal experiences of the positive or negatives. I’ve also noticed that I have made the same mistakes in my reviews and I want to improve so I’m going to try something new. I want to be thorough with my next review, which I’ve decided will be Borderlands. So what I’m going to do is give my impressions of the game as I play through it with multiple preview pieces. This will not only (hopefully) give me feedback from the community on the game while I play it (and possibly help me with it) but also be a record of my thoughts as they possible change and form. It’ll be like my notes that can be interactive.

I’m also going to be playing the DLC and with completion aspirations so that I can see how much I can get out of the game. The reason for this is so I can not only give a normal review that’s detailed but also include sections looking at the game from a completionist perspective (or end game perspective) as well as from a consumer perspective. So essentially my review will tell you if the main game is fun, if it’s worth your time to do everything in the game, and how much it’s worth paying for. I’m going with Borderlands because I’ve always wanted to beat it but never have and this long game would benefit greatly from this kind of extensive coverage. I’ll be playing the PC version as I don’t have any of the DLC from the 360. So I’ll be posting a first first impressions pretty soon.

Now I want to hear from you. Let me know in the comments what you think of this idea. A great deal of this experiment would benefit greatly from feedback. Thanks for reading. Peace and love, gamers and players.









159ac4f8-e80c-4acc-bac4-81c1f405fc49Last weekend and Monday, I started playing a game thatís been in my backlog for a long time. I used to own Skate about a year or two after it came out but I never sat down and actually gave it a fair shot. So I bought it when it was on sale on the Xbox Games Marketplace earlier this year and sat down and played it some last Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Before I continue, I want to make it clear that this is more of an impressions piece rather than a review because I havenít completed the game.

What has always drawn me to Skate is the trick mechanics. Skate is a more realistic take on the skating sport, where a 360 flip over a sizable gap is awe inspiring. You use the right analog stick, in lieu of buttons, to do flip tricks and manuals. grinds are done by using the right stick to ollie and then lining up your board to the rail or ledge or what have you. Grab tricks are done with by holding the left or right trigger and manipulating the board with the right analog stick while in the air. Finally, acrobatic tricks like spins and backflips are done with the left analog stick while in the air. All of this is done pretty well and although I wouldnít call it an intuitive control scheme, it makes a lot of sense.

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However, the problems with Skate also begin with the control scheme. You do flips by holding either down or up on the right stick and flicking it in the opposite direction for different tricks. Go to the side a bit and youíll get a kick flip or a heel flip. A quarter circle will result in a shovit. The problem with this is some tricks are done in ways that are too similar to other tricks. Being precise with your tricks is nearly impossible. For example, a 360 flip is done by holding down-left or down-right on the right stick, then rolling the stick to the down position and flicking the stick up-left or up-right. Most of the time, the game wonít register the beginning position of down-left or down-right and think you just did down and then up-left or up-right, resulting in a kick flip or heel flip instead of the 360 flip.

Another problem is the way you progress in the game. Despite having a more realistic approach to how you do tricks, progression features a familiar point system that in this context feels arbitrary. Most challenges have you doing certain tricks in a line, which is fine, but also a point goal that feels unrealistic. I understand having to do something for difficulty and preventing all challenges from being accomplish by doing a basic kick flip. However, this creates a difficulty that feels out of place in this game as well as adding unnecessary frustration to tasks that could be simple. The tricks are broken up into easy, medium and hard categories and that could have been used to differentiate the challenges and difficulty better. Instead of the challenge being ďdo a manual, a flip trick and reach 1,000 pointsĒ, it could be ďdo a manual and a medium flip trickĒ

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However, none of this matters because when the game does ask you to do specific tricks, itís often too specific. The precision the game does ask you to do is often too precise and it makes simple tasks frustrating. In fact, this was the reason I decided to stop playing the game. I got to a challenge that had me olling off a ramp onto a iron container and then jumping over to another iron container. I had to land on the first container in a manual, jump out of the manual over the gap while doing a flip trick in mid jump and finally landing into another manual. Sounds complicated but itís actually not a big deal. However, I could complete it because of several problems.

First off, most of the time when I jumped the ramp onto the container, I ended up grinding the edge of the container instead. The issue is with the grind mechanic. Since you need to just approach a edge, ollie and line your board up in order to grind, that means grinding is situational. Therefore, itís up to the game to decide whether you have met the requirements in order to grind and then make the action happen for you. Even though I meant to just land on the container, I met the requirements for grinding and therefore the game actually changed my jump trajectory slightly so I would grind instead.

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Secondly, the ollie mechanic seems to either have a slight delay or the game is trying to predict a ďfallingĒ flip trick. The other problem I kept having was with the game not jumping over the gap and instead doing a flip trick while I fell off the container. Instead of jumping when I told the game to, it would wait a half second for me to fall off the container and then do a flip trick. The third and final problem is manualing. Sometimes, my player wouldnít go into a manual despite me doing the command, which is hold up or down slightly on the left analog stick. The reason for this is because when you manual right after a jump, the amount you have to hold up or down the stick is different from if you were just on the ground.

The trick system is a cool system but it lacks the precision that you would probably have from pressing buttons. This makes for extremely frustrating gameplay. If I was going to complete that challenge, I would have to get some speed, hopefully jump high enough to get to the top of the container (sometimes you donít ollie high enough for reasons I donít know), hope the game doesnít think Iím trying to grind, land in a manual thatís different from manualing on the floor, have enough speed to clear the gap, hope the game jumps when I tell it to, do the flip trick in midair, land in another manual, and then end the line. Thereís way too much hoping in that, which means that if I were to complete it Ė and Iím pretty sure I could Ė it would just be because I got lucky.

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Iím not saying Skate is a purely luck based game. Clearly skill is involved and Iím willing to admit that my skills in this game are not the best. However, to compare this to a more traditional sport, thereís a reason Basketball is played in a closed arena. The last thing we need is Lebron James missing a two pointer because the wind happened to blow at that moment and blew the ball off its original trajectory. Again, this is not a review so there will be no score but there wonít be a review of this game from me in the future because I do not plan to continue playing this game. Iíve got plenty of other games to play rather than one that frustrates me. However, since I made this game the main inspiration of myUnderstanding Gamer Rage post, I felt like I should talk about the game in depth.


Thanks for reading my thoughts on Skate. Feel free to leave a comment and follow me onTwitter (@Colorwind), as well as on my personal blog on WordPress.









A couple of days ago, I posted a blog of me explaining how I get mad at video games sometimes while playing them and my attempt to understand why I get angry. I got a lot of responses across all the sites I posted that blog on, including Destructoid, IGN, Gamespot, Giant Bomb, and my personal blog on Wordpress. I included links to each of those posts if you want to read what others said. First off, thank you so much for all of the comments about how you all handle Gamer Rage and thoughts on why it happens. Especially with all of the negativity going on within the gamer community right now, itís nice to see that a topic can receive essentially no harmful, bad, or negative responses.


Now onto the actual follow-up. After writing the post and the first batch of comments, I played some more Skate, the game in question that inspired the post in the first place. I tried to remain calm but soon I started to get frustrated again. It came to ahead when a challenge involving me olling up to a container, landing in a manual, jumping a gap to another container, and landing in another manual came up. This wasnít a hard challenge in my opinion but try as I might, I couldnít pull it off. So following the advice of a lot of you, I paused the game and relaxed a bit. I thought about what it was I was doing wrong but came to the conclusion that I wasnít doing anything wrong and it was a flaw in the mechanics. I wonít go into detail here as I want to focus on the gamer rage part of this but I will do a write up on Skate after this.

I un-paused the game and tried to complete the challenge a few more times to confirm my suspicions and they were fully confirmed. So I stopped playing Skate and moved on to another game in my backlog that I had been playing off and on: Mafia II on the 360. Part of my reasoning behind quitting Skate was a comment made by Marduke 1913 on Gamespot. I said that I donít get enjoyment out of finally accomplishing tasks sometimes in games like Skate. Marduke 1913 explained this is because when I do finally do it, itís usually because I only did something slightly different. So theoretically, I could have done it my first try. This makes it feel more like luck than skill. I didnít beat the challenge, the game just decided it was happy this time. I included his comment as a photo that you can check out below.

What Iíve found out is I need to understand what kind of games annoy me and get me angry. Playing Mafia II, I have died a few times but the game isnít that hard, to be fair, and I havenít gotten mad once because Iíve been able to try something different with a different result. Skate requires you to do something one way only (for its challenges anyway) and you just need to try again doing the same thing if you fail. Iíve also learned that taking a break and thinking about what I need to do helps a lot. I find Iím still to headstrong to flat out turn off the game and come back to it later but pausing and calming down by thinking of a tactic helps a lot.

Also, a side note. Some of you think that when I get mad, Iím throwing my controller at the TV screen. Iím not doing that. I take very good care of my systems and controllers and regularly clean them to keep them operating well. When I say I throw my controller, I mean I throw it up in the air, it flips a few times, and then lands right next to me on the couch. That being said, I have broken a PS2, PS3 and several N64 controllers. The PS2 controller, I donít remember how that broke, but the PS3 controllerís L2 and R2 came off after I threw a controller hard on the couch and it bounced off and hit the floor. Luckily, I just snapped them back on. In my defense, it was a SixAxis controller, not a DualShock, and I think I was playing Lair. As for the N64 controllers, all of them broke when I wasnít even mad and just put them down a little hard on the shelf or something. Those controllers are just cheap pieces of crap.

So thatís the follow-up. Thank you all so much for your responses and my full thoughts on Skate will be going up in the next day or so. If you would like to read more of my stuff, follow my blog on wordpress or follow me on Twitter @Colorwind.
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I was playing Skate yesterday on the Xbox 360 and I reached a point where I got really frustrated and angry. I started to yell at the screen and toss my controller. I say things like ďDo what I tell you to doĒ and ďWhy arenít you listening to meĒ and I start cursing. Usually by the end of it, I wonder why Iím even bothering in playing the game Ė for instance, I played Skate for 3 hours Ė and I typically am very tense and my body is tight. I usually come to the conclusion that Iím not going to let the game beat me and Iím just not as good at the game than Iíd like to think I am. I also think that the game is worth playing because if I didnít like it or didnít care, then I wouldnít let it get to me.

However, Iíve notice that this has started happening a bit more often than usual. Itís got me thinking when is too much and how to remain calm. It also has me wondering whether or not I should continue to play games that get me angry, what the breaking point should be, and how to suppress the desire to continue the experience in lieu of another. From a personal perspective, Iím a pretty calm guy and I consider myself to be a realist, though I try to lean towards a positive outlook. However, I have been known to have a temper though it takes a lot to actually get me angry. A negative feeling I do often get is annoyance. I donít suffer fools well and while Iím patient when explaining things, I get annoyed by foolishness or misunderstanding of simple things.

So what does this have to do with Skate? Well, itís simply the fact that itís counterintuitive to how I normally am. Skate has a fairly complex control scheme thatís not easily understandable though it is intuitive. Add on that the controls are not the most responsive and it can be easily frustrating. Therefore, Iím not really getting annoyed at the game. Iím sure this is obvious but I am, in fact, getting angry that Iím unable to complete the objective in the game. Whatís more is when I do complete it, I typically donít feel accomplished. Instead, Iím just glad itís over so I can move on to the next thing.

To use another example, the other night I beat Super Mario World because itís one of my favorite games and I felt like it. However, I got stuck on trying to get the secret exit in the final Ghost House in the game near Bowserís Castle. You need to be small Mario and use these moving blocks to get you near the ceiling of one particular room and fit through this small hole. I started yelling again about how the blocks wouldnít move in the way I wanted them too but when I finally did it (by spin jumping off one of the nearby Boos), it felt really good and I felt accomplished.

So whatís the difference? Well, like I mentioned, Skateís controls arenít very responsive and the game does have a few glitches in it where Super Mario World has very responsive controls and few glitches. So the question could be ďShouldnít I stop playing Skate if the partial reason for my frustration with that game being the game itself?Ē However, I really like Sonic Adventure and thatís a game with less than perfect controls and a lot of glitches that rarely frustrates me. Perhaps it depends on the type of glitches in the game and the level of unresponsiveness in the controls.

Maybe I should look at this another way and focus on finding a way to calm myself and get less frustrated with games. Maybe I should pause the game and figure out what it is I need to do and how Iím going to do it. This will give me time to calm down as well as formulate a plan for my next attempt. Aside from maybe just working on when to turn off the game for awhile, thatís the only idea I have in terms of being less frustrated with games.

Now I want to hear from you. What do you think? You just read essentially my mind trying to figure this out and I would love to get some input from anyone reading this. How do you deal with frustrating games? Do you take a break? Do you quit the game altogether? Why do you get frustrated with games? What type of games frustrate you? Should I just stop playing Skate? Does it suck? Let me know in the comments below and share this post so others can comment on the matter. Thanks a lot for reading and peace and love, gamers and players!
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