Haiku Monday: The Dark Soul

Atomizing sprite,
Brought forth the seedling crystals,
Blackened foundation.

Power and curse,
Healing and fateful undeath,
Nature’s perversion.

Fuel to feed the fire,
Fuel to feed the coming dark,
Burn different flame.

Consuming the gods,
Empowering of mankind,
Which is right or wrong?

Game Review: Borderlands 2

Borderlands 2 is the successful predecessor to the original Borderlands, with an all-new cast of vault hunters (Axton, Salvador, Zero and Maya) looking to make their fame and fortune on the bandit planet of Pandora, by rescuing it from the clutches of Hyperion CEO, Handsome Jack. It is a First-Person-Shooter game with role-playing elements blended in to add a diverse set of customization options, from changing your character’s looks & head, the guns and other aspects you can tailor. On its debut launch week, Borderlands 2 topped the UK charts and beat Mass Effect 3 by 4000 sales, reaching number 1 quicker than any other video game this year so far (excellent start!).

Gameplay is pretty hectic and action-packed, which is what you would expect from a shooter game but you can control the pace depending on how you play. Controls are accessible and the graphics are pretty dynamic, similar to the original Borderlands. You advance in the game by completing quests, killing bad guys with your guns and levelling up and that will earn you extra maximum hit points and a skill point at every level from 5 onwards. The overall gameplay experience is boosted when Co-op is enabled, increasing the difficulty of the enemies, but increasing the rewards in terms of experience points and treasure. As a little quirk, there’s unlimited running (unless you hit a wall) and some really awesome-looking grenade explosions in the game from bouncing bombs, to child grenades, to homing ones and EVEN MORE than that! Although it’s fun, some would probably lose interest as shooter games don’t offer much variety in actions and quests you can do. There are hidden easter eggs for gamers to find aswell that range from custom skins, to weapons or just quirky interactions, but I shall not disclose any more detail to thee :P.

The audio quality, as well as the music used in Borderlands 2 is quite excellent and emphasises the theme of “badassery” when you’re killing bandits. In terms of the style, it’s reminiscent of fight scene music from films such as Underworld, Resident Evil and various other high-action classics. The music choice is purely situational (different themes depending on environment, etc) and the gun firing sounds are wacky and dynamic: some traditional, some futuristic. truly, there is no negative aspect about the audio aspects of the game, it is merely a matter of taste and this is good taste to the majority because of popularity.

Visual quality is stunning as ever, purely because the graphics for the entire game is unique to itself where no game has the appearance quite like BL2. It’s not for everyone as things can get a little messy, or hardcore gamers may not like the simplistic meshing for the terrain as it is not so detailed as video games like Call of Duty or Battlefield. Yet as I mentioned, the graphics are unique to itself and make Borderlands 2 different and very interesting to play.

The set of characters you meet in-game range from sane to insane… simple. Some are stiff-necked, but MOST are psychotic in one of three branches: sadist, sexual or manipulative. The few sane characters you meet tend to be too focused with dishing out tasks for you, but at least your sanity won’t be affected here. But safe to say, you will meet familiar faces, including the original vault hunters: Roland, Lilith, Brick and Mordecai. Alongside them, you’ll meet Dr. Zed, Marcus, Moxxi and a host of new characters with their own creepiness.

As a summary, Borderlands 2’s dynamic visuals, gameplay, customization and co-op will make unique gaming sessions each time you play. Ultimately the overall gameplay may become a tad dull and blunt when played for long hours, but some can create fun situations with friends and many overlook this hitch because they’re focused on collecting/finding awesome new guns to toy with :). The age restriction is 18 because there is some very adult themes from violence to sexual provocation. But as a result of this, it’s an adult-geared game with cartoony elements and a replay factor that is only understandable by fans of the shooter genre. Granted, this game is not for everyone, especially children as the warped themes in the game are not for sensitive eyes. Get blasting those bandits on Pandora vault hunters!

Game Review: League of Legends

Developed by Riot Games Inc. in 2009, this Multiplayer-Online-Battle-Arena (or MOBA for short) offers various paces of action with a clever combination of strategy and RPG elements. League of Legends, also known as LoL, is a relatively new game out on the scene but it has gained an incredible following with over 11 million players enjoying LoL a month. Alongside that, the game’s competitive scene has taken a boon in popularity and the current Season 2 championship prize pool totals at £2 million.

In this online free-to-play game, you are a summoner that summons champions to fight in team-based arena matches for you. You earn influence points which can help you buy new champions, runes to boost your champions or other various upgrades. The classic mode pits teams of 5 against eachother and each battle it out, with the assistance of NPC’s called minions and a shopkeeper who sells you items (with the gold you earn), to reach the opposing team’s base and destroy their Nexus. The game is predominantly PvP (Player versus Player) with an option to play against practice bots. The benefits of this game being that it’s free to play, but you can choose to buy premium items like champion skins if you so wish. The vast selection of champions can create interesting and unique team combinations and there is replayability factor in terms of player versus player matches.

For a small backstory, League Of Legends is set in the fantasy land of Runeterra upon a continent called Valoran. Valoran has been ravaged by what is called “Runewars” and a powerful organization comprised of the Valorian Countries’ brightest and wisest individuals was formed to prevent further damage to the land. This organization is called the League of Legends and instead of open warfare, disputes are settled on fields of justice, where opposing sides summon champions to fight for their cause to gain influence and decide the outcome of such disputes.

The abundance of champions, each with their own special skills (a set of 4 for each champion) does indeed create unusual and fun combinations of teams and this is a real bonus. There are so many characters to purchase that there is a completionist attitude set aside for hardcore gamers who like “collecting” things and the gameplay can vary between fast-paced or strategic and this broadens the dynamics of what a MOBA game can do for players. This game accomodates for experienced and new players alike and aims to provide the best balanced matches available, but for new players just starting out, they can play against bots to get used to the game first. The effort that goes into providing visually stunning artwork, 3D models and animation effects shows that Riot Games have a talented and dedicated team of staff to provide the best experience possible. As well as the art and development team, there is a team of community support staff to take care of the gamer’s queries and problems, from all corners of the world. What really will grab a players attention, is the feeling of control and new players will feel a connection to the game based on the “flavour” of champion they choose and over time gamers can become attached to their favourite champions as they develop their in-game skills.

On top of the positives, Riot have gone above and beyond to create their own musical scores in-game and offer regular patches to update the game’s visual and technical details. Despite being a new company, there is an air of extreme professionalism that reflects in their popularity and economical fortunes through premium purchases in game with currency called “Riot Points” and merchandising. Players who retain a positive attitude can see the care taken and I along with the rest of the fanbase should offer apreciation for their attention to detail. There is a strong competitive scene (as there should be with MOBAs) that offers normal games and ranked matches where players compete to be the best of the leaderboards. Local, national and world tournaments sinew a roar of excitement and enthralling action to where everyone can set themselves goals, so hardcore gamers ALSO have this element to keep themselves happy. Of course being a PvP game, anyone can meet anyone and make friends through any of Riot’s game servers.

Unfortunately, there are some issues with LoL that do ’cause serious concerns… The most noted of all is the community. Sure there are some really nice people in the game, but the reputation of the LoL fanbase is tarnished by negative and abusive players that is kindled by the competitiveness of the MOBA genre. Insults and cursewords, as well as a habit called “trolling” is very much abundant in LoL and it often pits new and veteran players in uncomfortable and upsetting positions and can even deter new players. Alongside that, the competitiveness and the broad skillset of the gamers who play it mean there’s a stark contrast and sometimes a new player is pitted against experienced players through “smurfs” or just misfortune. The high skill-level required to keep up with League of Legends would not appeal to every gamer, but Riot tries its best to change that.

Overall, there are some serious kinks to work out such as the community behaviour and the competitive scene, but generally it is a fun and enthralling game that offers MOBA veterans and newcomers alike a fresh and free-to-play video game that can be tailored to how the player wants to play. In comparison to LoL’s competitors Dota2, Rise of Immortals and SMITE, they have the largest fanbase and still continue to grow which is thanks alot to the beautiful artwork and the fluid and ever-updating gameplay mechanics, as well as a constant addition of champions and content to the roster, which keeps the fans entertained. League Of Legends is certainly not for everyone, but experimenting and giving this some time should decide whether the game is fun for you to play. Ultimately, you play the game however you want, WITH whoever you want and WHENEVER you want.

If you are curious, here is the link to their website:

http://www.leagueoflegends.com

and also Riot’s website, that has company info and job vacancies:

http://www.riotgames.com