The Four in Februrary: Finish Line
Touchdown Bo Jackson’s Final Update
I hate Mega Man.
Hate with the fury of a thousand suns. Hate with the most righteous, pure anger.
I am so goddamn bad at Mega Man.
I am fairly competent at video games. When I put my mind to it, I can beat a game fairly quickly. Yet, if you put a classic platformer like Super Mario Bros. or Mega Man in front of me, I just start bashing at the controller like a confused monkey; I misjudge jumps, I forget which weapon I’m using, I jump into one of those homing enemies, and I weep.
Don’t get me started on the bosses, either. Unless I look up their weaknesses on a FAQ, I turn into a jumping bean desperately trying to avoid a meat cleaver. For some reason in Mega Man, pattern recognition escapes me entirely. “Wait-he’s shooting an ice ball that travels diagonally? Better jump right into it!!!!”
But yet, none of that mattered. I forgot my own sordid history with Mega Man, sat down, and beat Mega Man X2. It took entirely too long, and I got way too frustrated, but I did it. Praise unto me!!!
(Is everyone reading Ian’s part now? No? Shit.)
Real talk? I didn’t get through Mega Man X2. I was able to beat 6 out of the 8 bosses, but I kept getting stuck and flustered. Eventually, I ran out of time, and because I couldn’t stop delaying the article in a futile attempt to finish it, I have to declare a time-out on the “Four in February.”
My final count? I got through two games this month, which is 200% more games than I beat in the last four months. I beat a game that had been nagging me for awhile, and defeated a new game that was surely going to end up in my “Need to Complete” pile for the next 5 months unless I did something about it. Real life also through a wrench into things as well, as my free time was quickly sucked away by stupid “responsibilities” and crap.
Whatever, real life.
Even though I only completely finished 50% of the games I mentioned, I’d still consider the “Four in February” a success for me. I hadn’t tried to just sit down and beat a video game for the longest time instead of just playing one to kill some time. It was a great experience to play these games from start to finish and struggle with the goal of actually seeing the credits. It reminded me of my youth, when video games were an adventure that you HAD to finish before other obligations stole you away, and you couldn’t just auto-save and come back to it.
In closing, the “Four in February” is a great idea, but I’m going to try to take its lessons with me in my game playing from now on and try to beat all my games before trading them into Gamestop. They deserve that much, don’t they? Take it away, Ian.
Meme-osa’s Final Update
Can I just go back and play more Skyward Sword?
Well, as promised, it was time to see Alan Wake from shadowy start to frightening finish.
Nope. Not doing it. Not now. I’m OUT.
I will finish Alan Wake and Dead Space, another terrifying game on my list, but there’s no way my piddly heart can withstand the subtle, lightless blurs of horror in such a rushed span of time.
So, I guess that’s it for me. Looks like I’m giv–
PSYCH. Borderlands 2!
Despite not having finished the first of the Borderlands series, I delved into the sequel. Boy, am I pleased that I did.
For those unfamiliar with the series, let’s go through a quick rundown of distinctions and genres:
- Four Vault Hunters to choose from (plus one more if you pre-ordered or bought the downloadable content), featuring a dual-wielding (and that means ANY gun, including rocket launchers) Gunzerker, a telekinetic and heroic Siren, a sentry-erectin’ Commando, and a haiku-spewin’ Assassin.
- Megalomaniac big bad with a massive plan.
- 87 bazillion guns getting bazilliondier.
- Hilarious, yet annoying robotic guide-ish.
- FPS gameplay, RPG elements, all brewed in with oodles of side quests amongst an embroiled story.
- Genre-savvy characters with enough shoutouts to satisfy the most obscure of pop culture fanatics.
- Additional and increasingly difficult second playthrough.
- DLC for new storylines, quests, and bandits to explode.
It would be quite rude of me to spoil the plot, as there are an intense amount of twists and turns fairly early in the game, but I will discuss actual gameplay aspects that I experienced.
I spent my time as Axton, the Commando character. Every Vault Hunter has unique talents and a skill that sets one apart from another, and Axton’s came in the form of a deployable turret gun. Most of my talents revolved around the customization of said sentry–increasing its fire power, survivability, accuracy, travel distance, etc.–and I stuck with the tree that allowed my turret to become a far-traveling, long-lasting distraction as I picked off baddies with a sniper rifle, though my character is best suited for assault weapons.
And that’s one of the game’s strengths; unlike many RPGs that limit a class’s ability to wield certain weapons or wear different type of armor, Borderlands 2 gives your hunter the means to use anything ranging from a pistol to a rocket launcher. Sure, there is one equipment slot that only holds items specific toward your class, but everything else is up to your discretion. Want to dual-wield sniper rifles as the Gunzerker? Go ahead. Care to get up close and personal with a shotgun as the stealthy Assassin? Be my guest.
But I’ve played many FPS/RPG hybrids before; Skyrim, the Fallout series’ latest entries, and the Bioshock games all come to mind. Hell, Far Cry 3, a game I played for the “Four in February” challenge, fits the same mold. Why did I enjoy Borderlands 2 so much more than other games of its ilk?
MINOR SPOILERS AND NSFW LANGUAGE
Some more examples of ridiculous, hilarious characters:
- 13-year-old girl with a penchant for explosions, ebonics, and civility.
- Dignified game hunter with two metallic limbs and disdain for “bonerfarts.” Yes, I find the latter part comedic.
- Inbred mechanic with no luck with the ladies coupled with a crush on his grossly oversized sister.
- Haphazard robot who’s the last of his kind, and thank god for that.
- A doctor. Well, “doctor.” No medical license, but he’s good at taking blood. And limbs.
- Weapons that actually take you on guilt trips.
That’s not counting all the NPCs, enemies, and quest text that borders on the absurd. I don’t often laugh aloud when by myself, but this game drew forth piles of guffaws. Considering the intensity of Far Cry’s plot, the nostalgia of Skyward Sword, the blasé of Darksiders II, and the fear of Alan Wake, I needed a solid cartoon of a video game. The fantastic voice acting only solidifies my contentment.
Don’t get me wrong; Borderlands 2 has some deep moments and heart-pumping action, but that is heavily outweighed by the ludicrousness throughout the entire game.
Unfortunately, I’m not going to count this one as complete. Yes, I did get through the entire main plot, but I finished it the evening of March 1st. The challenge wasn’t “Four in February and March if you can swing it.” Therefore, my final count is 3 of 4 games, with part of Alan Wake and the majority of Borderlands 2 explored.
Like Ben, I definitely found the “Four in February” worthwhile. It’s been an age since I treated a video game like anything more than a chore or obligation. Yes, the goal was to get through as many games as possible within 28 days, but I didn’t let the chaos muddy my enjoyment. I’ve gone back to liberate more camps in Far Cry 3, complete the gauntlet in Darksiders II, and I’m going through my second playthrough (True Vault Hunter Mode) in Borderlands 2. I already dissected Skyward Sword as much as I possibly could during my February play, but my heart yearns for more.
If there’s anything I’ve taken away from this opportunity, it’s the fact that video games are meant to be enjoyed. People turn games like World of Warcraft and the Call of Duty series into a plethora of one-upsmanship. People turn fun into jobs, pouring all their energy and cussing into gaining a new level, item, or title but receiving mostly stress. There are few who play WoW that read through all of their quest text, listen to characters, and take in the work that developers and programmers put into the game. Those that do are vastly outnumbered by everyone going for level cap or random achievements.
Not ready to dive into your pile of games without thinking, “Do I have to?” Try this:
Grab an old game. Anything you’ve played before. Dust off a console, plug it in, and feel the familiarity of the controller in your hand. Try to recall what it was like when you first played this game. Were you in school? Was it a birthday present? Did you save your allowance just to buy this one title? How often did you have to sneak into your sibling’s room just to get in a level or two?
Do it. For both you and me.