Saturday, August 31, 2013

Borderlands, WWE 13 and Why Skyward Sword is Underwhelming

     So I bought Borderlands 2 a week ago, which I had been meaning to do since it came out, but hadn't because I have yet to play through the first game in this whole backlog bullsh*t thing.

The other day I started Borderlands, and decided I would plays as Lilith the Siren because I had already played as the Hunter and Soldier, but didn't want to go with the Berserker on this playthrough.

I don't know how I feel about it because I'm always terrible when it comes to characters with powers. I always overlook some simple function, and end up abandoning or just using the most basic attacks or abilities.

As much as I love the notion of powers, whether it be a mage/wizard or just a support character with buffs and powerups, I'm absolutely terrible.

It goes back to being very offensively minded, preferred to shoot, stab, hack, slash, burn, etc. through enemies as opposed to making it easier for allies to do so.

But that is neither here nor there since Borderlands is being approached in single player fashion, and Lillith isn't very support-y anyway.

What's interest about Borderlands is that I was initially intrigued by the game from all I had seen, read and heard about it, but ultimately shied away because it seemed geared more towards multiplayer, which made me think the single player would fall flat.

The main story is a little meh, but it doesn't make the gameplay any less fun, albeit repetitive.

If you're into looting, Borderlands is the game for you.

I love the general idea of the weapon system, where different manufacturers make different weapons, but aside from elemental capabilities, increased rate of fire of a better crosshair/scope, the system fails to engage.

There is a distinct lack of customization, even with the ability to level up different skills, change your color scheme and all that.

Why is there no custom weaponry? Something tailor-made for my character, for my style of play?

Maybe that's just me, but Borderlands feels like a very surface RPG in that regard, since customization is very basic all around.

The story isn't awful, it just doesn't really engage you. The characters which should provide some level of engagement are just there to take jobs from, and they never really figure into the story much. Their function is the same as the bounty board, they just happen to have names and some semblance of personality.

You're a vault hunter charged with finding an alien vault which is supposed to house alien secrets and all sorts of good stuff that could be used to make the desolate planet worthwhile, and/or change the entire galaxy

Even being guided by the mysterious Angel doesn't add any sort of immersion to the game. It could have been engaging, but the frenetic gameplay is often at odds with her calm interjections throughout the game.

Having already played through the game in the past, I know what to expect, and I know that it is relatively inconsequential because the game is still fun to play.

Moving on...

WWE 13 is a thing that I've been playing. I've been out of the wrestling game game for a while, but not really.

Ever since WWF No Mercy on N64, I've never been satisfied with any of the titles that have released since then. They all got too complex, or overly simplistic.

I tried some of the Smackdown vs. Raw titles, but didn't really care much for them because of the sh*tty "story" mode. There's no real decisions to be made, just do this, beat this guy, fulfill this requirement, done.

The Road to Wrestlemania mode was short and offered no real enjoyment other than leveling up your created character or seeing crappy canned interactions for the specific superstar paths.

WWE 13 doesn't have that traditional story mode, but has the Attitude mode, which is essentially a playable highlight reel of the WCW/WWF ratings war that the WWF knows as the Attitude Era.

I've only just started, completing the Rise of DX and playing the first few matches of Stone Cold's path, but I already enjoy it.

Which is weird, because it follows the same, "do this, fulfill this requirement, done" sort of formula. The difference being that you're replaying history as opposed to battling as an up and coming created wrestler through wave after wave of crappy storylines.

Some of the matches are frustrating because of my unwillingness to not unlock everything there is to unlock in the game, but I'm enjoying it.

The gameplay takes some getting used to, and the counter system is spotty. I appreciate flashing a symbol to counter, though I wish it wasn't just the right trigger but rather an exclamation point or something fitting for a wrestling match, but I don't like how easy it is for opponents to counter.

Matches often devolve into brawls because sometimes guys just don't stay down, and you NEED to wear down their stamina before attempting a pin.

And let me tell you, that little "roll out of the ring" skill too many wrestlers have is beyond annoying.

So you've just hit your signature move, pulled off your signature taunt and hit your finishing move, and you expect to be able to float over into the pin for the old 1-2-3, right?


Your opponent rolls out of the ring to a standing position, showing no signs of wear, making it necessary to throw an even more extensive beating on them, making matches frustratingly long, or repetitive.

In that regard, it handles more like a fighting game, and not in the way that made No Mercy a great game.

No Mercy was fluid gameplay, just enough customization to be engaging, but not too much to overwhelm, and featured some real-life angles in the main story mode, though they didn't come with full-fledged builds or anything.

WWE 13 feels very basic in the controls, with the A grapple, X to strike approach, but I don't like generic movesets a lot of the wrestlers have.

Not every superstar uses the same suplex, the same back drop or the same neckbreaker, and having the majority of their movesets match takes away from the uniqueness of each wrestler.

Sure, wrestlers all have that basic pool of moves they all used, but the grappling system feels limited to just those moves, opting to make their signatures and finishers the defining moves.

A little nitpick is the weapon use in hardcore matches, or regular matches if you're into cheating.

Why are we limited to strikes and occasional grapples? Nothing is contextual, or most of it isn't. I want to pull off a One-Man Conchairto, or do a Sabu-style leap from a chair over the ropes to an opponent on the outside.

Maybe that's just me though, or I'm doing something wrong...

Moving along yet again.

I haven't made a ton of progress in Skyward Sword, only just finished the first temple, and I'm already feeling let down.

The controls are what they are, I don't hate them, but I don't love them either. The story hasn't really reeled me in, but maybe there's time for that.

My biggest concern is the overall feel of the world. Everything feels too bright and sterile.

There is no sense of foreboding in Skyward Sword. The first "boss" you face isn't intimidating, even if they try really hard to play up the mystique of holding back his full power.

Not to mention he is an unsettling figure, but not in the way that makes bosses good. He looks like the type of character who might violate you...

In the worst way possible

The first dungeon was disappointing. It was too short and didn't feel very intuitive. Compare it to Inside the Deku Tree and it fails on almost every level.

There was a sense of fear in that dungeon, whereas the Skyview Temple was too much like traipsing through a collection of rooms with little or no connection to the end-goal.

And why is everything so well-lit?!?

Why are there no shadows? No areas where something creeps on the edge of the light, making you think twice before engaging it?

Nope. None of that. There's some skulltulas, and deku baba, but nothing we haven't seen before or have any sense of dread over.

I get it, it is the first temple, but there was nothing engaging about it. I did not, and still do not, care about this iteration of Zelda, and Fi really needs to shut her f*cking mouth.

I also wish Nintendo hadn't shown their laziness by introducing the eyeball/sentry "puzzle" and proceeding to use it a handful of times in a short dungeon. We get it, motion controls. Get the f*ck over it already.

What's the point of the beeping when your low on health if Fi is just going to chime in each and every time to tell you to be careful or replenish your health with a potion?

Why isn't all Fi dialogue optional in-game? Navi only chimed in when necessary, more so in the early going, but even then it wasn't page after page of "Master this---" or "Master, that---"

And I know I've said it before, but why does she sound like GlaDOS?!? Only her voice though. She doesn't have the charming personality...

On top of that, the story hasn't really pulled me in. It still feels too forced, because we've only been told that Link and Zelda have grown up together and she has a soft spot for him. What we DO see of this relationship feels childish and very shallow.

No subtlety in this game, and that bothers me.

I now realize I should probably break this down into smaller, more easy to digest entries... But I'm not going to do that.

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