Monday, November 30, 2009

Pew Pew Lazor Beams

Amarr Ships

I have spent the past several months training towards the use of Amarr ships of the cruiser and battlecruiser variety. Over the past few weeks this effort finally culminated with the ability to use Tech II medium lasers and as a result I have been on a bit of a binge flying the Harbinger and Zealot. I am still learning the ships and tweaking my fits but so far this is how I am flying them:

[Harbinger, Tanky]
Damage Control II

1600mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I

Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II

Adaptive Nano Plating II

Heat Sink II

Heat Sink II


10MN MicroWarpdrive I
Warp Disruptor II

Medium Electrochemical Capacitor Booster I, Cap Booster 800

ECCM - Radar II


Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Scorch M

Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Scorch M

Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Scorch M

Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Scorch M

Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Scorch M

Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Scorch M

Focused Medium Pulse Laser II, Scorch M
50W Infectious Power System Malfunction


Trimark Armor Pump I

Trimark Armor Pump I

Trimark Armor Pump I


Hammerhead II x5

The above fit puts out about 450 DPS including drones and with Scorch from 20km. This gets boosted to about 535 DPS including drones when switching to Amarr Navy Multifrequency crystals which have an optimal of around 7 KM. Overheat and it just barely gets to 600 DPS. Pretty impressive compared to the other gank battlecruisers I am used to flying. Neither the Ferox or Brutix get quite the same combination of tank, gank and optimal range. Most importantly, the Harbinger looks like a giant flying chicken which is a huge improvement over the giant flying head.

[Zealot, Sniper]
Damage Control II

Heat Sink II

Heat Sink II

Heat Sink II

Tracking Enhancer II

Tracking Enhancer II

Tracking Enhancer II


Y-T8 Overcharged Hydrocarbon I Microwarpdrive

F-90 Positional Sensor Subroutines, Targeting Range

F-90 Positional Sensor Subroutines


Heavy Beam Laser II, Aurora M

Heavy Beam Laser II, Aurora M

Heavy Beam Laser II, Aurora M

Heavy Beam Laser II, Aurora M

Heavy Beam Laser II, Aurora M


Polycarbon Engine Housing I

Polycarbon Engine Housing I

This fit is specifically for sniping. I can hit for about 250 DPS from 105 KM away or 430 DPS from 30 KM away with Multifrequency crystals. Extremely one-dimensional and it will die if you sneeze at it the wrong way but incredibly effective at its one role of providing DPS from any range. Nothing is quite as cool as watching giant red laser beams shoot one-hundred kilometers through space.



There Is No Place Like Home


Our corp has been having great success on roams into the regions around Old Man Star recently. On our last roam from Egghelende to OMS, we managed to kill several ships including two totally unassociated Tech III ships in under an hour:

Loki - Probed out while doing a mission with his Legion friend.

Tengu - Made the mistake of engaging our scout on a station.

After considering the fact that this region seemed to ripe with action and the fact that the corp had grown somewhat disillusioned and inactive in Egghelende, we decided to take a corp vacation to a system only a few jumps away from Old Man Star itself. This weekend we moved into our temporary digs just to realize that we had arrived right into the system where the Blood Money Cartel lived! Already in our first couple of days we had a few fun fights (and non-fights) with Skira Ranos' corp and after talking to them in local they seem like a nice bunch of pirates. I look forward to hanging out in the same system as some real PvP'ers instead of the smacktalking joke that is Dead Terrorists.

In addition to the other benefits of this new region, we are now in easy roaming distance of the Python Cartels true home (in my opinion at least). I wanted to visit it so we arranged a small gang to roam up to Tama and then the fantastical system of Aurohunen. We set off with a Rapier and Vengeance as our scout/tackle and four battlecruisers bringing up the rear to provide actual tank and gank. We flew all the way from Old Man Star up into Tama, Ishomilken and then finally Dantumi (one jump away from Aurohunen) before we finally found a little bit of action. A lopsided fight but you take what you can find. With the area looking dead and our roam winding down and feeling somewhat unsuccessful, we sent Necio in his Rapier to scout Aurohunen. Necio jumped in and then mumbled something over chat while I was barely listening. I could have sworn he just said there was a carrier in a belt. Necio repeated himself and I perked up and realized I did not misunderstand. There was a Chimera carrier and a Hulk in a belt in Aurohunen.


Necio tackled the carrier and tanked the fighters and drones that were sent his way as we jumped into system and then warped into the belt with the rest of our gang. We spent the next couple of minutes shooting down drones and fighters as I attempted a ransom:

[ 04:48:14 ] Spectre3353 > hey man
[ 04:48:19 ] At Hand > hey wahts up?
[ 04:48:19 ] Spectre3353 > we have several more ships arriving in a minute
[ 04:48:24 ] Spectre3353 > if you want to save your ship itll be 1 billion isk
[ 04:48:29 ] Spectre3353 > you have a minute to comply otherwise you die

A blatant lie as we had no backup and no more ships were coming as of yet. Instead of a proper response, he simply ignored me and closed chat. We kept our points on the carrier, orbited out of his smartbomb range and began asking everyone we knew if they were in the area to come assist in the destruction of a defenseless and lonely Chimera carrier in the system of Aurohunen. First we managed to convince the Myrmidon pilot we had killed only a few minutes earlier to jump in and help. Then we got really lucky and recieved a response from an ex-Python, Lady Thanatos who was only a few jumps out with a gang made up of several battleships and battlecruisers. After what felt like forever, LT and his gang landed and we all opened fire on the carrier, hoping to be able to break its tank. Slowly we broke through his shields and then faster we began to burn into his armor. It was about then that he finally did what we were hoping he would not... The Chimera pilot activated self destruct! The race was on... We had only two minutes to pour on enough DPS to break through most of the armor and all of the structure of a Chimera.

[ 05:03:23 ] At Hand > i feel special
[ 05:03:29 ] At Hand > 16 people just for me wow you guys really suck haha

I opened chat again to try and trick him into turning the self-destruct off so that we could finish our kill:

[ 05:07:38 ] At Hand > yes?
[ 05:07:42 ] At Hand > you got 60 secs
[ 05:07:43 ] Spectre3353 > stop SD and we'll let you go for 250mil
[ 05:07:47 ] Spectre3353 > final offer
[ 05:07:48 ] Spectre3353 > 250mil
[ 05:07:56 ] At Hand > stop firing and let me go
[ 05:07:59 ] Spectre3353 > gotta stop sd
[ 05:08:02 ] Spectre3353 > we will as soon as you stop
[ 05:08:06 ] Spectre3353 > i have everyone ready to stop
[ 05:08:08 ] At Hand > stop firing first
[ 05:08:10 ] At Hand > 30 secs left
[ 05:08:13 ] Spectre3353 > STOP SD AND WE WILL
[ 05:08:20 ] At Hand > sorry

Everyone in gang overheated their guns and threw everything they had at the ship. It felt like he was going down so slowly and I was almost convinced that we would never be able to pull it off when finally he dipped into low hull and exploded.


The Chimera pilot let us know how he felt about the whole situation once his ship had finally been blown up:

[ 05:04:58 ] At Hand > obviosuly it takes this many to kill one is sad
[ 05:05:09 ] Bfoster > we are pretty pathetic..
[ 05:06:24 ] Priah > your in a carrier
[ 05:06:40 ] Priah > at least for now you are
[ 05:06:40 ] At Hand > your in a battleship
[ 05:06:48 ] Priah > ya but ill leave in the battleship :P
[ 05:07:30 ] Mark wick > awww thats mean
[ 05:07:34 ] At Hand > to bad
[ 05:08:00 ] Bfoster > no insurance for that
[ 05:08:02 ] Bfoster > lol
[ 05:10:20 ] At Hand > actually ya there was
[ 05:10:22 ] Mark wick > lol fail
[ 05:10:23 ] At Hand > never leave home without it
[ 05:10:29 ] Mark wick > u still died
[ 05:10:39 ] Forest Baltar > you lost a fucking carrier
[ 05:10:41 ] Forest Baltar > IN A BELT
[ 05:10:41 ] At Hand > you guys still suck and need to learn some reall pvp
[ 05:10:42 ] At Hand > lol
[ 05:10:43 ] Forest Baltar > learn eve
[ 05:10:49 ] At Hand > learn to pvp

The loot was worthless and the pilot was an idiot but it isn't every day you manage to tackle and kill a carrier in a lowsec belt. I love Aurohunen.

EDIT: Bfoster has an account of the carrier kill on his blog as well. Check it out here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words

Tonight I had an interesting conversation with Andrea Skye about our corporation:

[23:50] Skye: i would say it makes us look bad
[23:50] Skye: but we already look bad
[23:50] Spectre: yea
[23:50] Skye: so who cares
[23:50] Spectre: we are already the python cartel
[23:50] Spectre: we are the most immature loud mouthed inconsistent drunk bunch of retards in lowsec
[23:50] Skye: im not drunk
[23:50] Spectre: well lets use some math here
[23:51] Spectre: the python cartel = nothing without me
[23:51] Spectre: me = drinks a lot while flying
[23:51] Spectre: thus the python cartel = drinks a lot while flying
[23:51] Spectre: got it?
[23:51] Skye: no
[23:51] Spectre: hmmm let me draw a venn diagram or something

As I ran off to grab my crayons and some construction paper to create a color coordinated Venn Diagram that would knock my 3rd grade teachers socks off, I looked back and realized that Skye had already beaten me to the punch:

[23:56] Skye: I JUST DREW A DAIGRAM
[23:56] Spectre: oh god

My jaw dropped in awe as I gazed upon his fifteen seconds of artistic effort:

Click To Enlarge

Quite a masterpiece.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Reap What You Sow

A conversation from last month with a Python Cartel member that was removed from corp:

---------------------------------------------------------------

Channel ID: -3127383
Channel Name: Private Chat (Griznatle)
Listener: Spectre3353
Session started: 2009.10.02 05:15:48
---------------------------------------------------------------

[ 05:16:00 ] Griznatle > well ok...
[ 05:16:24 ] Griznatle > you busy, or you think you can talk to me
[ 05:16:28 ] Spectre3353 > hey
[ 05:16:29 ] Spectre3353 > whats up
[ 05:16:47 ] Griznatle > wanna explain a little whats going on man
[ 05:16:56 ] Griznatle > i was pretty sure we were getting along
[ 05:17:39 ] Griznatle > i had told you a couple times about my character sheet issue
[ 05:17:42 ] Spectre3353 > i got a few complaints of people that said they didnt want to fly with you
[ 05:17:46 ] Spectre3353 > and you piss your ships away
[ 05:18:00 ] Griznatle > what was the complaint?
[ 05:18:03 ] Spectre3353 > dont take it personal but if youre not fitting in with the corp then thats that
[ 05:18:14 ] Griznatle > i do take it personal
[ 05:18:15 ] Spectre3353 > you fc'ing gangs and getting everyone killed
[ 05:18:20 ] Spectre3353 > being obnoxious on vent
[ 05:18:30 ] Griznatle > ive never fced a gang in python man
[ 05:18:38 ] Griznatle > ive target called once
[ 05:18:47 ] Griznatle > or twice, i think
[ 05:18:51 ] Spectre3353 > i wasnt there
[ 05:18:56 ] Griznatle > i really loved being part of python
[ 05:19:08 ] Griznatle > i wish you would have talked to me saying that this shit was happening
[ 05:19:16 ] Griznatle > i would have really worked hard
[ 05:19:31 ] Griznatle > yeah the jew thing was stupid...i just got mad at the blobbers and emoraged
[ 05:19:44 ] Spectre3353 > that wasnt really the problem
[ 05:19:49 ] Griznatle > but i really love you guys
[ 05:20:03 ] Spectre3353 > well i dont want to tell you how to play
[ 05:20:09 ] Spectre3353 > if you want to suicide 5 ships a day thats perfectly fine
[ 05:20:11 ] Griznatle > please do
[ 05:20:15 ] Spectre3353 > but thats a bit beyond what i want us doing
[ 05:20:27 ] Griznatle > i know man...ive been having a hard past week
[ 05:20:41 ] Griznatle > i just started college and its difficult to fit in
[ 05:20:48 ] Griznatle > and i mean i love you guys, like brothers
[ 05:21:02 ] Griznatle > i guess what im saying is i really would have loved to work it out
[ 05:21:30 ] Griznatle > i can stop throwing ships away man, i really just miss being a part of the cool guys
[ 05:22:30 ] Griznatle > i know its not much to offer, im not that good a pvper
[ 05:22:39 ] Spectre3353 > none of us are that good, its not about that
[ 05:22:46 ] Griznatle > but im really trying to learn and its been so awesome and like a dream to fly with you guys
[ 05:23:02 ] Griznatle > id love a second chance...
[ 05:23:12 ] Spectre3353 > one moment
[ 05:24:08 ] Griznatle > i get carried away man, and i totally know that, no excuses, i dont have much to offer to the corp other than love for the craft
[ 05:24:57 ] Spectre3353 > every corp is different and i think you could probably find another where your playstyle fits in better
[ 05:25:06 ] Spectre3353 > there are tons of pirate corps and id be happy to put in a good word for you in any of them
[ 05:25:17 ] Griznatle > but i like being with you guys man
[ 05:25:26 ] Griznatle > i know a second chance is out of the question
[ 05:25:41 ] Griznatle > i just really wish i could prove to you that i could change
[ 05:25:58 ] Griznatle > and ill stop being the annoying kid on vent
[ 05:26:40 ] Griznatle > i just really loved being part of pythons
[ 05:26:44 ] Spectre3353 > i think you're taking it a little too hard
[ 05:26:56 ] Spectre3353 > we are a video game guild
[ 05:27:00 ] Spectre3353 > one of many
[ 05:27:04 ] Spectre3353 > you will find a place
[ 05:27:25 ] Griznatle > there isnt anyway i could try just one more time to not be stupid noob?
[ 05:27:57 ] Griznatle > i can really work on it man, i really can
[ 05:28:00 ] Spectre3353 > maybe sometime down the road but right now i think you should move on and find yourself a group who play the same way as you
[ 05:29:09 ] Griznatle > this sucks man, spec...i really wanted to become one of the guys
[ 05:32:11 ] Griznatle > i could be probitionary, no roles or anything, you can kick me out first sign of trouble, i just really wish i could prove myself
[ 05:33:08 ] Spectre3353 > sorry griz, ive said what im going to say for now
[ 05:33:18 ] Spectre3353 > good luck and let us know if theres anything i can do to help you with a new corp
[ 05:33:33 ] Spectre3353 > if you need to transport stuff safely out of station just let the guys know i said to let you go without engaging
[ 05:33:40 ] Spectre3353 > if anyone gives you trouble with that let me know
[ 05:33:41 ] Spectre3353 > o/

A few days after this, Griz put me on ignore and freaked out in local chat screaming at me. A little while after that, Griz posted a post out of nowhere in the C&P forums apologizing sincerely for his actions. A little while after that, Griz once again freaked out in local at us. The reason I am sharing this? Simply to let other corporations know: Do not ever recruit Griznatle. He is a complete psycho and a spaz both in game and on Ventrilo. I can only imagine that he must be bipolar or schizophrenic and I hope that he gets help. Until he does, do not accept him to your corporation or risk having to deal with some psycho shit. You've been warned.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Hangar

I've always had a lot of shit in my hangar. Tons of modules and drones and ammo so that I will always have what I need to fit a ship on the fly. Lots of different ships fit in various ways so that I will always have something adequate for the encounter at hand. This situation compounded itself considerably over the past few weeks when I came into a large quantity of money at the same time as I finished a number of skills that let me fly some new ships. I hauled in a couple Harbingers and a Zealot just today right as I was completing Medium Pulse Laser Specialization I. I dropped them in my hangar and then realized that somehow I had amassed forty-five ships in my hangar ranging from newb ships and shuttles up to several battlecruisers and battleships. Take a look for yourself at this blob:

Let's go over them:

Harbingers and Myrmidons: Just your standard battlecruisers. Fit and rigged and ready for any sort of fight that requires some tank and power under sentries but more agility than a battleship.

Dominix/Megathron/Megathron Navy Issue: Usually for station games. It's rare an engagement occurs where I can bring a battleship off the station on not be hot dropped or blobbed and Gallente battleships are not know for their agility or ability to get the fuck out (AKA "GTFO").

Curse/Arazu: For HAC/Recon gangs or situations where you need to nano around and take control of a small fight via electronic warfare. The Arazu usually gets broken out just for tackling at long range but the Curse gets utilized almost daily. It is an amazingly effective ship when used against certain ships/setups that are cap dependent, use turrets and aren't forcing you to fight under sentries.

T1 Cruisers: I don't fly them as much anymore but these were my bread and butter for a long, long time. Shown here: Arbitrator, Vexor, Blackbird, Exequror, Omen, Moa. I would usually have a Thorax or two but they have all been blowed up and I have not yet bothered to replace them.

T1 Frigates: Believe it or not, I still hop into the Rifter pretty often. It is pretty much the mainstay of any self-respecting pirate. Cheap, fast, durable and extremely effective against many other frigates including several T2 varieties.

HIC's: Shown here is a Phobos and Devoter. Both are exclusively for gate camping. I have never actually flown the Devoter yet.

HAC's: Exclusively for nano'ing around and being lame. I just bought the Zealot so I haven't gotten a chance to try it out yet. The Ishtar doesn't get undocked too often because honestly I find that it is extremely underwhelming while using heavy drones. One of these days perhaps I will train T2 sentries and give it another shot.

Pilgrim: Bought it. Fit it. Flew it once. Haven't managed to get too excited about it yet so it is rotting in the corner.

Thrashers: It's hard for me to explain how much I love the Thrasher. I love shield tanking it with autocannons. I love armor tanking it with autocannons. I love honor tanking it with artillery. It is a very flexible ship, it shreds virtually any frigates regardless of how you fit it and it looks fucking cool as hell. Even the name Thrasher is awesome. A great little ship whether you're solo'ing or you're in a Thrasher gang.

Taranis: An old favorite that I have been neglecting recently. Ever since the scrambler changes I have found myself preferring other frigate sized vessels to the Taranis.

So there you have it. My hangar. It's better than yours and you should be jealous.


Some Random Screenshots Of These Ships In Action:

Weirdass Looking Station


A Giant Penis and His Sailboat Friend


Nano Cruiser Gang


More Nano Cruiser Gang


Working Hard? Or Hardly Working?
Thanks Scam Victims! You Bought
My
Alt a Freighter!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mining In Amamake

Over the past few weeks, the Python Cartel has fallen into a state of inactivity for a number of reasons including:

- The release of Borderlands.
- The release of Dragon Age: Origins.
- The release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
- People having random real life issues or responsibilities.
- People being frustrated with Minmitar/Gallente lowsec becoming very populated and difficult to operate in.

Throw in the pending release of Left 4 Dead 2 tonight at midnight (hooray!) and I wonder how long it will be until our corporation is truly active again. Maybe when Dominion is released? Maybe in 2010?

In an effort to keep things at least a little bit interesting, I scheduled an op for the corp last week that would be different and rewarding. The rules for this op were as follows:

This is no joke. Everyone is to get into any mining ship they want with any character they own. Retriever, Hulk, Navitas, Vexor, Tengu, I don't give a shit. We will go to Amamake and we will have an ore mining contest.

WHEN:

Tonight
Thursday, November 12th
Meet in Amamake at 0300 Eve Time

THE RULES:

- The specific type of ore to be mined will be specified by me right before the contest starts.

- Only one character per person is allowed to mine or help mine/haul. You may NOT work together in teams.

- All mining ships will start in a safe spot together in Amamake, gathered on Spectre.

- Ships can be fit ANY WAY YOU WANT but I would recommend you have some mining lasers and/or mining drones or you are going to have trouble gathering any ore.

- You will have 60 minutes from the moment I say START to mine as much ore of the type that I specify that you can. At the end of 60 minutes we will meet in a station in Amamake (station to be determined) and you must CONTRACT me your ore. Anyone who tries to contract me their ore past the designated 60 minute timer will be disqualified.

- If your ship is destroyed by random gankers in system, you cannot get another. You will have to give me whatever ore you have gathered in the station to that point and that will be your score. People participating in this op are NOT allowed to attack each other in the belts or at any other point or they will be disqualified. You ARE allowed to bump, smack or distract each other as long as it does not involve directly engaging via guns, drones, etc.

- Mining in anomalies, missions or any place that isn't a normally marked and warpable belt IS NOT PERMITTED.

- If you lose your mining ship, you still have to post your loss.

- You cannot have any ore in your holds or in any station in Amamake when the OP starts. YOU MAY NOT LEAVE AMAMAKE OR YOU WILL BE DISQUALIFIED.

- You must stay in fleet the entire op. Anyone who leaves for any reason other than a disconnect will be disqualified.

REWARD:

The winner of this contest will be given 100,000,000 ISK (100 million ISK).

So with these rules set, four pilots showed up to intetionally mine in one of the busiest and most dangerous systems in all of Eve. I gave everyone the specific goal to collect as much Fiery Kernite as possible in one hour and sent them off to make fools of themselves. Within minutes we lost Golden Helmet's Retriever and Brick0Joe's Osprey. It seemed like this was going to be over very quickly but to my surprise, Bfoster's Exequror and Kerblammo's Scorpion both lasted the full sixty minutes and Kerblammo barely won with a score of 3480 ore to 3429 ore. It turns out that the winning formula was to fly a ship with Warp Core Stabilizers as well as tricking people into thinking your ship is bait.

The winning fit was like so:


Congrats to Blammo for winning 100 million ISK and congrats to Golden Helmet for being embarassed publically on the Crime and Punishment forums. Stupid carebear miners.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

XB360 Review - Borderlands

One of the first things most people will probably think to say upon noticing this review will be "First Person Shooter? RPG? Why the hell didn't you buy this for your PC?" Well, I spend all damn day at my computer at work and there is something to be said about playing games on a 50 inch plasma TV with 5.1 surround sound from a comfortable couch. This review is specifically for the XBox 360 version of Borderlands. Most of the content in this review is relevant to all versions but it should be noted that there have been many complaints about the fact that the PC version feels very much like a rushed port and has technical issues that are not prevalent in the console version of the game.


Overview:

Because Wikipedia gives better overviews than I do:
Borderlands features four player online cooperative play, which allows players to join and leave games whenever they want to, along with other single-player and multiplayer modes and a large number of weapons. Players can choose from four different playable characters who each have their own unique abilities and skill trees. In addition, players may have access to customizable vehicles for "vehicular combat" and will also be able to customize their pre-selected character. Defeated enemies will sometimes drop equipment, which is then available for players to pick up. The game is described by Gearbox Software as an "RPS," or "role-playing shooter."
Visuals:

While I didn't spend much time following the development or previews related to Borderlands before its completion, some controversy about the direction of the graphics and art style did come up around the gaming community during its development. The original art style was a bit more standard and gritty but was updated part of the way through the production cycle to have a more cell-shaded and cartoony feel by the time it was actually released.

In Borderlands final state, the colors are bright, the world is vibrant and both friendly and enemy character models are very nicely detailed. Textures on the XBox 360 become a little bit muddled as you get up to point blank range on your targets but in general everything looks sharp and the style come across as very unique and pleasing to the eyes. Perhaps the only big gripe with the cell-shaded style is that it occasionally becomes difficult to perceive depth or distinguish different pieces of terrain during a fast moving encounter but these incidents are far from game breaking and may be have been partially related to my level of intoxication.

In addition to the terrain and character models being visualized well, the guns and other weaponry are impressive looking and varied. Every weapon you pick up will differ in its model, color, scope, muzzle flash and a number of other visual elements. In comparison to other loot-centric games where "Joe's Long Sword +3" looks identical to "Fred's Short Sword +5" virtually everything you pick up in Borderlands is going to have some graphical element that distinguishes it and accurately reflects it's capabilities, even down to the number of barrels your friends can see when they look at the front of your badass new shotgun.

Sound:

The sound effects and dialogue in Borderlands could certainly be seen as one of its brightest spots. Weapons and explosions generally add a great feel to the combat and I was especially fond of one specific sound effect that plays when you fire missiles out of the games vehicles. Additionally, player and NPC dialogue is done well and much of it is has a great sense of humor that matches the "gritty-but-silly" feel that the visuals also convey. You will never know what truly hilarious combat is like until you are listening to one of your friends yelling next to your ear by using the Berserk ability as you fire a shotgun into the face of a screaming midget.

Gameplay:

At its core, the Borderlands gameplay is easy to get into and very satisfying. Jump in with your friends, activate a quest, kill everything in your path on the way to the objective and bask in the loot and experience you gain as you move along. It is a tried and true formula that has worked for Diablo, Titan Quest and a number of other games. Most interestingly is the fact that Borderlands begins to give you that familiar feeling of playing a MMO as you progress further and further along. Moving around from lower level zone to higher level zone, completing quests with your friends, leveling up and assigning talent points to your character. It all feels very familiar. Gearbox even blatantly ripped off World of Warcrafts color scheme for items via the "White -> Green -> Blue -> Purple -> Orange" progression of item strength. Fortunately, it is here where the FPS elements come to the rescue and pull Borderlands out of the "been there, done that" quagmire that it nearly falls into. The unique guns and grenades and rocket launchers along with the real time twitch based combat does much to differentiate it from just any old fantasy action-RPG or even from MMO's such as World of Warcraft that it seems to want to emulate.

Regardless of this all, no RPG is going to succeed without interesting abilities that make you feel more powerful as you level and encouragement to continue questing to advance the story and obtain more levels and loot. In the same vein, no FPS is going to succeed without adequate focus on weapons that are responsive and feel right as well as interesting enemies and encounters that challenge without frustrating. So where does Borderlands fall in these categories? To generalize, the RPG leveling, talent and gear elements are fairly light and the story is downright forgettable. On the other hand, the FPS elements are satisfying and combat is exciting and well balanced (that is if you can ignore the ridiculous fact that running an enemy over in your car instantly kills them even if it would have taken considerably more effort via normal means). The overall success and satisfaction of the gameplay comes from the fact that Borderlands brings the unique addition of FPS combat into the action-RPG genre in a manner that melds very well and causes Borderlands to really become more than the sum of its parts.


The last thing to point out that will effect the game and your overall enjoyment is unfortunately a number of glitches and bugs that exist upon release. Gearbox is working hard to get out patches to fix issues related to talents that are not working properly, sound issues on consoles and even problems that cause all of your items and money to be deleted as you join your friends games. I ran into one of these glitches when my XBox 360 froze up during the games final cut scene. Because of the timing of the crash, the last boss no longer exists in my game but it did not register me as completing the game or even getting the final boss achievement. My character is now stuck in a permanent limbo where I cannot finish the games final quest. Gearbox is working on a fix but it is still obnoxious to know that so many serious issues made it through to release.

Multiplayer:

To be totally fair, it is hard to imagine playing Borderlands in any manner that is not multiplayer and it seems quite obvious that the game is balanced around more than one person playing at a time. Bosses feel like they are designed around having multiple players, many talents and abilities lend themselves to working with others and even the in game vehicles have seats for two players. The Berserker gets abilities that encourage him to tank for the group, the Soldier gets abilities that encourage him to heal and resupply and Sniper simply needs all those other people distracting for him so he can sit back and snipe without being mobbed. In some ways the classes are unrestricted as they can use and level up proficiencies with any weapon type but your combat effectiveness really begins to shine when you utilize some of the specializations and support abilities that is encouraged for each class.

It is due to this overwhelming design around multiplayer that I wonder why some pretty important things were omitted, most obviously is the ability to trade assets. Not being able to directly trade items is a little bit insecure but far from gamebreaking. You simply drop the items to trade on the ground and pick up what want but when playing with strangers who may have no inclination to share or play fairly it seems silly that there is absolutely no ability to set loot rules or roll for items. The biggest fubar is the fact that you cannot trade or give money! If your friend Johnny needs another $5000 to buy that awesome purple sniper rifle in the shop then it's just too damn bad because you cannot give him any of your hard earned cash. Why a game that is based around working together would leave out such simple and important cooperative capabilities is just bizarre.


Conclusion:

Borderlands is a great hybrid of RPG and FPS ideas and mechanics that is unfortunately marred by some weird design decisions and a few nasty glitches/bugs. It is a hard game to recommend if you are going to be exploring the world of Pandora solo due to somewhat monotonous gameplay and a very forgettable story but with a friend or three it stands up there with Gears of War and Left 4 Dead as an extremely entertaining and satisfying co-op experience.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Look Ma

I just wanted to give a quick shout out to the Planet Risk radio show that airs every Wednesday night around 21:00 Eve time on Split Infinity Radio. Quivering Palm and Luminus Aardokay were nice enough to make mention of me in their last two episodes as both a discussion topic and as part of a question during their first round of CSM debates. If you enjoy listening to people talk about me as much as I enjoy listening to people talk about me, take a look at episodes 8 and 9 of the Planet Risk show here: