Very few games are cool enough for my wife and I to play through these days. Most people would naturally think that SHE’S the picky one, but actually I’ve gotten really picky in my old age. When we try to games we both have a virtual “Gong” that either one of us can ring and throw the game off the island.
Many arrive and few remain. If it has split or same screen co-op we’ve probably played it at some point — for a few hours, and then tossed it.
Borderlands has survived the Gong, although there was several times I thought she was going to ring it.
“Why am I not hitting anything? What’s wrong with this gun?” she would ask, frustrated.
I tried to explain the RPG nature of the game, and her eyes glazed over not listening. After years of gaming with me she understood that shotguns required the target to be closer, but she was still a ways off from understanding how stat based rolls that depended on varying character and equipment attributes could have an affect on the game. That even though she had her target squarely in her sights, she could still miss.
But we played on. The initial presentation of the game was very good, and the goodies were everywhere to be found, which pleased her. Her Gamertag includes a reference to goodies for a reason….
Another crazy strange thing about the game is how it handles the inventory / merchant / character screens. If you play the game on a widescreen TV it splits the screen vertical (which is what we’ve come to prefer), but when you go into your inventory screen you see half of the options panel. You then have to scroll your view of it with the right stick. This is, to say the least, annoying, because the other half of the panel might have little tidbits like how much the item you are looking at costs to buy.
So then you find yourself in there wiggling your view around as you try to look at the map, which itself scrolls, so you have your view scroll and map scroll getting mixed up and may feel some nausea starting up in your stomach. I really don’t understand why they couldn’t address this somehow. Split screen was obviously not planned from the start with this one.
But we played on. After the first night we shrugged and said it was “ok”, which is usually a death warrant for most games. I mentioned something to the effect of “Rat levels” in Baulders Gate, and how you had to do the dumb stuff in RPGs to get to anything good.
A week went by and we never touched it. Then finally we decided to give it one more try.
Our powers became activated, we acquired some decent guns, and got used to the strange half interface, and now we’re hooked. Last night is was after 2am when we realized we should put the game down and go to bed. We make a good team, with her enjoying the rocket launcher and sniper rifles while I tend to the machine guns and combat rifles. I’m the Solider (warrior) and she’s the Siren (magic user). She loves user her powers to tease me. We’ll be running toward some point and she’ll kick it on and fly past me like the silver surfer from Fantastic Four.
“I’ll meet ya there!”
“Hey, you can’t leave me! I’m your husband!” But its too late, she’s already cashed-in the quest and started shopping by the time I catch up to her.
This morning when we talked, she asked if we were going to be playing it again tonight. Obviously, we’re completely hooked now and talking about spending a weekend alone together in a hotel somewhere playing the game — undisturbed by those annoying little responsibilities we call children.
So, in closing, Borderlands is a good split-screen game, but you have to give it some time and get used to it. It has some strange quirks about it, but the heart of the game is good simple fun. I don’t think it’s going to break into the ranks of some of our recent favorite co-op games like Resident Evil 5 and Rainbow Six Vegas 2, but it looks like it’s going to keep us occupied for a long time to come.
— Robert Dusseau