And The Best Video Game Of 2012 Goes To….
Quick disclaimer , I have not played every game that came out this year. Second quick disclaimer, I have really only played three games this year. And the other thing I should point out is, they were all awesome, and all for different reasons. Mass Effect 3 was amazing for the sheer scope of the story telling, and for the simple fact that hasty decisions I made in part one came back to bite me in the ass in part three. As a gamer, I had never experienced anything like that (and no, I have not played Telltales Games The Walling Dead yet. I am a fucking writer, I make like eleven cents a day). Sleeping Dogs was fun in a mindless, action movie sort of way, but the game did not floor me, which game of the year needs to. You know what game did floor me, over and over again? Borderlands 2. That game sucked so many hours off the last few months of my life that, if I were to lay out stats for you, you would wonder when I actually found time to sleep. Truth is, I didn’t. I haven’t slept in three weeks. But regardless of that fact, Borderlands 2 was quite easily the most consistently entertaining game I played in 2012. It had the three F’s of success. Funny, fast paced, and fucked up. All the F’s I love in life. Well, except one, but I digress.
First off, I need to let my bias be known before I go any further. When the original Borderlands dropped, I was hooked. There was something I found so enjoyable about skipping around Pandora, killing wave after wave of bandits. I played through the original game as Mordecai, and for those who don’t know, that was a huge emotional set up for part 2. While I won’t ruin any plot points for those who have not played through the series yet, I will say that the characters in part one, while not playable in the sequel, are very much an integral part of the story, in ways you may not see coming. And this leads me to address the changes developer Gearbox made to its seminal series.
As great as the original Borderlands may have been, it has some glaring faults. One fault was a real lack of a story, which was a major shortcoming, because the few characters you interacted with were so funny and flushed out in their personalities, you would find yourself wishing there were more to do with them. Borderlands 2 addresses that, and throws handfuls of amazing characters at you this time, all of whom are far more thought out and developed, and the storyline is much richer and more layered this time. And all this culminates with a bad guy named Handsome Jack , played brilliantly by comedian and actor Will Arnett, who may just be the single greatest bad guy you have ever loved to hate in a game. He is CONSTANTLY spewing anger, misdirected rage, and utter cynicism at you, trying to stop you at every turn. While I won’t divulge much about the story, I will tell you that you he will have you laughing as much as he has you wincing. And some of the things he says and does in the game WILL have you wincing. You may forget he is a bad guy from time to time because of all the awesome pop culture references and jokes he makes, but there are key moments, with very important characters, where he will remind you just how terrible he is. Hell, one thing Handsome Jack does in this game almost put tears in my eyes. No joke.
Let’s take a second right now to talk about some of the other characters you will meet in this game. We have Scooter, the mechanic who has you collect porn mags for him at one point. You have Mal (reference to Hal 9000), the robot that just wants to be human. You have the buxom Mad Moxxi, who’s boobs may affect your decision-making from time to time. And Borderlands 2 has my favorite game character of all time, as of 2012. Her name is Tiny Tina. Here, take a moment to acclimate yourself with her awesomeness.
If you don’t love her, I don’t love you.
If that all that wasn’t enough to convince you just how awesome this game is, there is a mission where you even join a cult and have to sacrifice a flame worshiping midget. I know that sounds like something I would make up, but the most amazing thing is that I didn’t.
And that is me telling you about four characters and one mission. Do you even know how massive this game is? Well, to put it bluntly, there are whole, massive sections of the map (and some side missions) that some gamers never even find. When you see just how big it this game is, and just how many missions you have, and how many locations there are to discover and explore, it hits you. This game is so big it’s almost daunting. But what is relatively amazing is that you can play what and how you want. Do you want to run through with guns blazing? There is a class for you, called Gunzerker. Do you want to sneak through the levels, silently cutting throats? There is a character class for you, called the assassin, which is the class I played through as. And even as we speak, Gearbox is giving people all new character classes through DLC. Like the Mechromancer. And the world is open, so if you are stuck on one mission, go to another and get more powerful, then come back and beat it when you are stronger. It all has a brilliant ebb and flow to it.
And the biggest selling point, I have not even brought up yet. I haven’t even spoken of the million guns you can find in this game. No, not exaggeration.
The guns generate randomly, mixing parts from other guns. The end result is that, every time you play this game, you could shoot a different gun. we are talking about a hundred hours here, depending on how far down the rabbit hole you go. Do you realize how amazing and rewarding it is to play through a game that constantly rewards you with cool new ways to kill things? You have shotguns that fire electric grenades. You have machine guns that fire rockets. Rocket Launchers that shoot acid. And those are some of the NORMAL guns. What about the rare occasion that you find a special weapon, or even a CURSED WEAPON? Yup, they got that, too. I played with the cursed gun, and it was like a nightmare. It screams at you the whole time, and the more you use it, the slower you move and less accurate it gets. Like a nightmare. But you can’t deny, that is hilarious, and is worth experiencing just to see how Gearbox pulled it off.
Hopefully that helps you get the gist of what I am saying about the guns in this game. They are mind-blowing, poor pun intended. Once you grasp the scope here, from the perfection of the voice actors, to the amazing, cell-shaded visuals, it is clear to see that other games may have been better in certain ways, but none were quite as consistently fun and entertaining as Borderlands 2. Dishonored may have been a stellar example of atmosphere, and Far Cry 3 may have been the first person model, pretty much perfected. But was there any other game released in 2012 that was as time-consuming and just plain fun as Borderlands 2?
Nope. Not for me, anyway.