I’ve tried to be far less critical off gaming and film critics lately because I was one. I gave it up, found myself a lot happier when it comes to my passions of gaming and film. I found myself dropping the opinion people think I should have and rather forming an opinion that I truthfully feel and I feel better for it… But then sometimes I read an article like Adam Najberg’s review of Borderlands 2 and I feel like he simply doesn’t understand gaming culture at all.
Borderlands 2 is a shooter at face value. It has hundreds of thousands of guns in it (literally not an exaggeration) and you shoot lots of things in the face and they die, but that’s not what Borderlands 2 really is. Borderlands 2 is a Diablo style RPG where rather than click your mouse a million times to tell your character where to move and what to smack with a weapon, you use the familiar controller or WASD/Mouse combo to rain bullet filled hell storms down on your enemies until they explode in to physics based goo piles all over the screen. It’s wonderful good fun.
So why did Adam Najberg get this so wrong in his review of Borderlands 2? Well he simply doesn’t understand what the game is. In the fist part of the second paragraph of his review of the game, Adam states:
[Borderlands 2], the first-person shooter, published by 2K Games, inevitably invites comparisons with the Halos and Call of Duty games already out and due to come in the next few weeks and months
This isn’t really true at all. Gamers don’t compare the series at all simply because of their foundations are in completely different game types. Borderlands 2 has more in common with Dungeons and Dragons than it does with Call of Duty. Every bullet you fire has a number of damage associated to it that effects what it hits much in the same way you’d roll a dice in Dungeons and Dragons to figure out if you’ve caused harm to the enemy or not. This is happening on a millisecond by millisecond basis in the game because so many bullets are being fired but that’s what the game is about.
Borderlands is about loot, statistics and numbers. At it’s core it’s about leveling up, gaining new abilities, ability trees, customizing your character the same way you would in a game like The Elder Scrolls… but yes… with guns.
Borderlands 2 falls short because it’s missing several key elements you need to have in a 2012 first-person shooter game – most notably, a rich multiplayer online mode. There’s an extremely limited four-player cooperative mode, and if you have an Xbox Live Gold account, you can team up that way, but this isn’t the type of deeply engrossing FPS game the headset-wearing COD crowds gather to play months and months after release.
I would suggest that Adam stop for a second and rethink this statement. A reich multiplayer online mode isn’t necessary for a 2012 first person shooter at all. A fun and engaging experience should be at the game’s core and everything else about the game should be there to help generate the idea of fun.. and that’s what Borderlands is.
Is Borderlands competitive? Well it does have a dueling mode where you can face off against your friend and see who the better player is with whatever character you’ve designed, but that’s fine. That’s not the game’s main idea. The game’s main idea is character classes and cooperative play. It’s only limited by your imagination. What this says to me is that Adam didn’t have anyone to play with and so he associated that with being “limited”. The game is built around the idea that you should play with 3 other friends. How is that limiting?
Cooperative play is under rated in a lot of games. It’s usually tacked on or a mode like Hoard Mode in Gears of War. Rarely is it an integral part of the entire game’s structure and here it is. Four different classes exist in the game, each playing wildly different with different abilities. When you have four people working together, combining these abilities together and taking on huge waves of enemies it feels pretty far from limited. Combining the “Phase Lock” ability that Maya has with the dual wielding gun play of the Gunzerker named Salvador to take out a giant enemy feels great!
In comparison, I read on several sites that COD: Black Ops 2 will feature up to six teams, for a total of 18 simultaneous players, in multiplayer mode.
This is not how you review a game. A game should stand on it’s own merits. When the goal of the game is cooperative play, comparing it to rumors about another game from another developer that isn’t yet released is irresponsible. What if this isn’t true? Why is speculation on another game even a factor in how this one plays? This is how I feel about that:
What if I wrote a review of a movie that stated “Movie A isn’t as good as upcoming Movie B (Which I have not played and have no experience with) because I heard that Movie B has more car chases than Movie A does.”
You would call me an imbecile for even bringing it up. It shouldn’t effect how you think of a game you’re playing at that moment and like I said before, it has no business being in a review. It’s unprofessional.
Borderlands 2’s single-player campaign mode isn’t as good as what you’ll find in games like COD: Black Ops or the Medal of Honor series. There’s too much “feast-or-famine” hunting for tasks, supplies and a good battle for this to be a fun game all the way through.
The above statement irked me even more. Borderland 2’s single player campaign mode is far better than what you’ll find in Black Ops or Medal of Honor based on the fact that it’s not meant to be a single player campaign mode. This is a game, like I stated, like the game is sold, as a cooperative game. It’s meant to be played with three friends. The game gets more difficult, the loot gets better as you go, and the story gets wilder as do the environments. Not only that but it’s not a directed corridor shooter like COD or MoH games are. It’s not a linear experience or directed to be as such. It’s an adventure that you take your time with.
I played with my 14-year-old son, and we found ourselves spending a lot of time mindlessly opening supply boxes and mailboxes to find bullets, health boosts and other goodies we didn’t really want or need yet
Let’s break this down shall we? Adam played with His son who isn’t old enough to buy the game. Adam also complains about the language of the foul mouthed Claptrap robot at one point in the review. Ok so why are you playing with your son?
Then comes this…
As a $30 impulse buy, priced about the same as games like “NASCAR Unleashed,” I wouldn’t have a problem recommending Borderlands 2 as a fun diversion. At twice that price, though, I think it’s fair for players to demand the whole magilla – cutting-edge development, engrossing campaign gameplay, scads of downloadable content, a rich social media/community experience, sharing of loot and gear and online multiplayer modes that keep you and your friends coming back until the next version of the game comes out.
Here we see what kind of gamer that Adam is. He’s not a thinking gamer. He doesn’t like stats and customization really. What he really does like is GO FAST! SHOOT GUNS! Through his entire review he talks about COD, comparing the two games (Which no critic should do, especially since they’re in different genres.) He also comments on something about Skyrim he dislikes that he feels is similar in BL2. Clearly not an RPG fan.
But what about his complaints here? The listed complaints… How accurate are they? Well as for cutting edge development the game has a giant Nvidia PHYSX suites and as such water, dirty, body parts, anything laying in the environment can be effected by anything else. There’s even procedural wind that’s moving banners and flags which can be torn, shot or moved.
Engrossing campaign gameplay? I’m more than engrossed. I’m completely in that world. I can’t wait to jump back into it as soon as I’m done writing this. I love my character, I love how I’m interacting with the characters from the previous game, how the story is being fleshed out and how there’s all these new things to find, characters to talk to and side missions to go on. There’s a lot of engrossing campaign at your fingertips.
A rich social media experience? Ok where is that in COD? I’d say the social media experience for the game lives with it’s fans who write about it on Twitter, Tumblr, post about it on facebook, join into games on XBL or Steam or even PSN…
Scads of Downloadable content? On day one? Well I as premiere member for pre-ordering got a set of weapons and items exclusive to me. I also get a new character class next month. Why the hell is this even in your review when they’ve been selling the idea of more content to come for months now? Not only that but there’s a 30 dollar season pass which will buy you all the DLC that is coming out later. There’s already so much game, how can you complain that you want more when it’s a game you don’t like?
Sharing of loot and gear? Yeah I just press X on my keyboard when I’m next to one of the players I’m playing with… Again did you even really play this game? And for how long? How much of your review is you playing with your son and how much is you getting information from the Gearbox press kit that came with it?
Adam Najberg is a terrible critic. He’s clearly into a certain type of game, can’t wrap his mind around the RPG or why people like it and is seriously misinformed about not only the game’s core audience but what type of game Borderlands 2 is. I don’t even know why the Wall Street Journal is reviewing games, but some one needs to give this guy a different job.
You can read his horribly written, executed, misinformed and misguided attempt at a fair and balanced review here.
*edit* I also found a review of Adam’s about Fable III. While the game isn’t stellar, it’s clear this guy simply does NOT like RPGs at all. He should probably not write about something he doesn’t like…