VERSUS: Borderlands v.s. Left 4 Dead 2

8 Dec

Hello friendly viewers (and to those who aren’t so friendly, get out). I realize I haven’t posted much in a while, so I’ve decided to come back with a bang. Two great games have been released. Though one isn’t quite as recent as the other, they both feature something that I love: four player co-op.

I’m going to be breaking this duel between the games into several parts. If you’re only interested in one section, just look for it, read it, and be on your way. But if you want a full blow review of the two, and want to know which is really better (in my opinion of course), then sit back, relax, and enjoy the first episode of VERSUS.

BORDERLANDS V.S. LEFT 4 DEAD 2

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The first thing one notices about L4D 2 that instantly makes it better than Left 4 Dead (1), is the drawn out, kickass, rompin’ stompin’ opening cinematic. The characters look better, their voice actors are perfect n ever way, it’s cooler, it’s longer and the excitement one feels while watching it is much higher than that of the first. It also spans across all of the campaigns, not just one, and makes one want to play through the whole game to see how this, that, and the other might have played out. It really is incredible.

Now with Borderlands the story is a tad different. The opening cinematic is awesome, don’t get me wrong. It’s just a different kind of awesome, and unfortunately this different kind isn’t quite as good as L4D 2’s first impression. The opening scene introduces you quickly to the planet of Pandora, and the classes you can pick from. Now I must admit that There Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked is the absolute perfect choice of song for this scene, and the timing is perfect as well, with each characters being introduced in rhythm in a grindhouse manner. Although it’s fun to watch. I’d rather look at the cinematic the L4D 2 has than the one Borderlands plays. Sorry Pandora, but this round goes to the zombie apocalypse.

WINNER: L4D 2

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

STORY

L4D (1) is known for having little to no story. It’s just four (well, now five with Crash Course) movie campaigns that aren’t very connected at all. L4D 2, however, manages to handle this problem nicely by having the first campaign be the very first meeting between the survivors. The introduce themselves to each other in an elevator, and set out to see what’s out there in Postapocalyptia (note the Fallout reference I just made there :]).

L4D 2’s campaigns are also tied together. For instance, the characters might talk about something that happened earlier in another campaign that’s related to the one you’re one. And whatever vehicle you left the last campaign in is in the start of the next one, providing some link between each campaign. It’s not a huge story arc, but it’s something. And L4D 2 comes complete with a company called CEDA (Valve is known for having companies in their games, i.e. Black Mesa and Aperture Science), which was supposed to be protecting people from the infection, but failed miserably. Their jets and helicopters are still flying around, but all of their “infantry” on the ground are now infected. It’s a real hellhole.

Borderlands’ story is…um…yeah. Listen, I hate to disappoint any readers hoping Borderlands would have a nice story, especially with such potential (four unique mercenaries on an alien planet being ordered to do things by a mysterious guardian angel who might have something up her sleeve that will shock gamers everywhere). Unfortunately however, the story is, for lack of a better term, utter crap. I mean, I haven’t beaten the complete story yet, but I’ve gotten far enough to know that this game is not about the story, it’s about the gameplay. The guardian angel isn’t mysterious, just annoying. She feels like she was thrown in at the last minute so people would feel like there might be some inner workings to the story. The opening events of the game are boring (in terms of story, not action) and made me want to shut it off (though the gameplay really saved it big time). Honestly, I pity the writers who worked on it and had to play it afterwards because I have a feeling they know they failed. And so the winner is once again the apocalypse.

WINNER: L4D 2

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

GAMEPLAY

L4D (1) had plenty of great things, but also plenty of flaws. For one thing, there were only five primary weapons, two grenade types, and only one secondary weapon (although dual wield was enabled), along with a few other items not used for combat. In L4D 2 there’s ten primary weapons, twelve secondary weapons (if you include dual wielded pistols and melee weapons), and even a new grenade, an adrenaline shot, and a defibrillator. That’s a large improvement from the last game and gives players much more flexibility with what they use in the game, and greatly influenced my take on the game. Another improvement is the difficulty level. L4D 2 is much more challenging than its predecessor, causing survivors to really have to work together even more. Teamwork is key to completing the campaigns in L4D 2, and I mean key, especially with the new special infected running around. The spitter shoots acid spit at survivors and creates pools of this dangerous fluid when she dies. The charger rams through everything in its path and when it tires out grabs the nearest survivor and begins pummeling him into the ground. And then there’s of course the jockey, who jumps on the backs of survivors and leads them into the hordes of zombies, fires, off cliffs, into the witch, etc. Speaking of witches, in all daytime campaigns the witch will now wander around. She could pop up around any corner, and you wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.

It isn’t just the regular game that’s improved. There’s also new game modes as well. Scavenger takes survivors to sections of campaigns and has then bring objects around the map (usually fuel tanks) back to the “home base” area to collect points. And then there’s of course the game mode that was revealed in the demo (but not playable): Realism. Realism at first seemed to me like basically the regular game. But that was before I got separated from my team. Realism takes away the blue silhouettes that helped you out so much in the regular game and makes you realize how important they actually were. You can get lost very easily in Realism and not only that, but items are much harder to find in Realism because of the silhouette removal. The tank does more damage than before as well and the witch can kill players in one hit. And I don’t mean knock down, I mean literally kill you in one hit. And remember those closets that helped so much in getting teammates back? Not there. They’re gone in Realism. Hope you packed a defibrillator or two. Now imagine that game mode on expert, and you’ve got a real challenge on your hands.

Now Borderlands has a very different play-style. Borderlands is, for one thing, and RPG at its core. It’s a shooter, don’t get me wrong. But all attacks and stats and such are altered by RPG style perks and statistics. There’s no moral decisions or anything, but the game doesn’t work like that. It work more like this other one game I hate. What was it called again? World of Whorecraft? Something like that. Anyhow, the game flows like that certain other MMORPG, but it’s ten times better. For one thing, the action isn’t slow and boring, but exciting and fun. And not only that but there’s tons of guns. I mean, there may actually be 87 bazillion, just like in the ads. Because there’s plenty of guns. Rocket launching shotguns, flaming snipers, explosive revolvers, to name a few. And I mean a few, because there’s so many guns. It’s crazy how many there are.

Character progression is quite fun as well. Character customization is purely asthetic, but that’s okay for a game like this. It’s more about your abilities than your armor and such. Each class has its own special ability. The hunter has a deadly pet bird named Bloodwing. The soldier has a turret he can drop down equipped with a shield for protection. The siren can turn invisible and move super fast before deploying an energy blast that covers a large space. And then there’s the brick (or berserker) who drops his guns and take out enemies with his fists. All of these abilities are upgradable, and so are a whole bunch of other things like reload speed, what kind of item drops you’ll get, etc.

Exploration is quite fun, and since there’s so many new areas to explore around every corner and so many quests to uphold, you’ll almost always have something to do. And with co-op, question becomes more challenging, but at the same time, more fun. Having buddies around always makes Borderlands a lot more enjoyable. In multiplayer you can duel (like in Whorecraft), and even have 2v2 battles in arena. So if you ever get bored of NPC enemies getting slaughtered at you feet, you can always try and see if you can beat your buddies into the dirt, too.

It was a tough decision, but I think because of the RPG aspect, this round is going to have to go to Pandora.

WINNER: BORDERLANDS

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

PRESENTATION

The new menu for L4D 2 is sleek and smooth and it’s very easy to find the thing you want to do. It’s also easy to find games and start playing them without fuss. The new musical style is cool too, providing a cool set of tunes to go with your getting into the game, and improving the in-game experience itself. Along with that the daytime campaigns and the new lighting for nighttime campaigns create a much more brilliant atmosphere in the world of L4D 2. Lastly there is of course new wall messages and new side characters to spice up the L4D world, including L4D 2’s version of the companion cube, a cute little garden gnome named Chompski.

Borderlands’ menu isn’t quite as interesting and feels sort of like the menu for a PS2 game (be advised I have Borderlands on the PS3). The in-game menus are cool though and provide easy viewing of items and stats and such. And there’s also that great art style that makes the world more vibrant and colorful. However, bland characters who don’t have that much personality (not that every character in Borderlands is like this) caused me to not be able to appreciate the way it was presented as much. And that’s why Valve has once again triumphed.

WINNER: L4D 2

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

FINAL SCOREBOARD:

L4D 2: 3

BORDERLANDS: 1

WINNER OF VERSUS: L4D 2

Hope you enjoyed the first episode of VERSUS.

Happy Holidays!

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