Borderlands 2: A FPS Conversion

This is not a review. There are plenty of well written professional write-ups out there. This is something else.  This is a conversion tale.

I have never been much for FPS games. The whole genre seemed like a sea of loud, overly messy, testosterone-filled violence: every game full-to-bursting with steroid-inflated meatheads with little sense of humor. I was prejudiced. I’ll admit it.

I am a Skyrim, SWTOR, Assassins Creed kind of girl. I am all for twanging a vampire in the face with my enchanted bow, plus 3x damage with sneak, but never liking the feel of bullets whizzing past my head.

Then there was Borderlands. My husband was a devotee of the first game, three and a half playthroughs before I quietly suggested he might want to move on to a new game. I never played it myself. But then the game of the year bandwagon got rolling and its popularity was picking up steam. So when Borderlands 2 was released I was more easily convinced I was missing out by rejecting all FPS’ outright.

My husband lured me into playing coop with promises of tea and chocolate chips. “There is even a female character.” He was buttering me up. I try to avoid playing male avatars. If I am going to stare at someone’s back for hours I’d like it to be a pretty back at least. Sure she is overly skinny and wearing a thong leotard but its the best they had.

We play split screen on our not-quite-big-enough TV.  We squash ourselves into our only arm chair. We play for hours. There is magic in the self-effacing comedy of the game. I love the wub wub wub of the claptrap dubstep and the chatter of the mobs. It’s bright with comic, uncivilized beauty.

The mobs are at once endearing and nail-biting. A giant man with a shrunken head, a Goliath, can be turned on his buddies with an every day headshot. Giant, state-changing mosquitoes fight hammerhead suicide robots. There are midget and souped-up versions of everything. My siren shouting “Badass sighted” perks me up every time.

The sheer diversity of weapons is so enticing. Every loot drop and vending machine visit is unique. The guns are toy and candy and jewelry all in one. Damage and firing rate stats are all well and good but its the rhythm and feel of each gun that matters.  Each weapon has a different spark of personality.

Having compared it to nothing, I have decided the siren is the best class in the game. Her special power is a lovely purple CC. Snagging fast moving Sewer Rats or Repair Surveyors has me shouting celebratory profanity at the screen.

But lest I lack any criticism, my one big complaint is that the environment/character integration looks dismal. Watching other players scamper around me is just silly. The character animations look a bit like self-aware paper dolls learning to walk on broken legs.

That aside, this is a love letter to Borderlands 2. My totally coop playthrough is positively biased.  It has had the social allure of SWTOR and the intimacy of date night. Its the perfect mix of serious gun play and thirteen-year-old, girly, psychopath tea parties.  Will my newfound love of an FPS have me playing COD next? Doubtful, but more smart and beguiling FPS titles are definitely on my wish list. Mayhem Awaits. Bring Friends.

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