There is nothing quite so satisfying as being rewarded for all your efforts with a game, whether it’s from months of solving puzzles to eventually reach that elusive final boss or just to hit that ultimate level cap and know that you worked to get there. When the promise of something great lies at the end of the struggle, how must it feel to reach that final destination only to be let down massively?
There have been several occasions recently where I have felt that grand defeat… and all from the same game. The build up and anticipation have been so much that, when it ultimately never happened, I was left feeling not only let down, but absolutely cheated. Cheated by the law of random selection, cheated by the carrots being dangled in front of me throughout the entire game and, ultimately, cheated by the developers who made huge promises and failed to deliver.
For those of you who are unaware of my gaming tendencies, I won’t play more than one game at a time. It’s just not how we roll in my shire. It’s about immersiveness and dedication and so, for the last couple of months, I have been spending all of my time on Borderlands which started off as a single player campaign as Mordecai the Hunter and developed into a co-op scenario with my friend and fellow GamingLives writer Pete.
When we first entered The Vault and were faced with this huge writhing creature, The Destroyer, our first reactions were “Holy shit!” or some such surprised mutterance. Within the space of sixty seconds, however, the excited blurts had become painful cries of “What?! Shit!? Is that it??” because the big bad… the final boss… the last big nasty that you’re tasked to kill… was dead quicker than some of the regular in-game enemies and we were quickly subjected to the end credits so we could quickly jot down the names of the people who obviously found it hilarious to hype up this “Vault” as being something spectacular, rather than an oversized slug that dropped a few crap weapons.
It doesn’t end there though, unfortunately.
I have made no secret of the fact that a huge part of the experience for me was working out the quickest and most efficient way of getting through all of the red crates in one particular area in the hopes that they will be filled, or least be peppered, with weapons and shields superior to my own. Imagine my surprise and sheer delight when I discovered that my latest purchase, The Secret Armory DLC, not only included bigger bosses than the main game… but all new Crimson Lance crates containing more advanced and powerful weaponry than the main game as well as a final boss by the name of Crawmerax who, as I was frequently reminded during loading screens, would regress me back to that kid in a candy store (or, in my case, a Tandy store) as “Crawmerax has a chance to drop the best weapons and gear ever seen on Pandora”.
Some digging around the various gaming forums turned up information on the recent addition of the Pearlescent weapons which, while still generated using a random seed, would be specifically named and have statistics within a specific range… so it was easy to see in advance just how powerful these weapons and shields were. I wanted them, and those new Crimson Lance crates had the chance of containing these Pearlescent weapons, as did Badass enemies, Skyscraper (oversized daddy long legs with a superiority complex) and Crawmerax.
My digging also introduced me to a glitch whereby the player would have an unlimited amount of time to loot General Knoxx’ Secret Armory rather than the 2 minutes and 33 seconds that were afforded through regular game play. Being a crate whore I, naturally and unquestionably, exploited that glitch as many times as I could manage… but boredom got the better of me as I opened each of the 150+ crates several times over (including making my way through hordes of enemies each time) and not one single weapon was better than anything that I was already carrying… most of which I’d had since around level 40-45.
Not being one to give up easily, I decided to give this Crawmerax guy a go and see what tasty nuggets he’d throw my way. He certainly wasn’t an easy kill, and I died three times before finding a nice safe spot to take him out without further consequence. His health bar dropped as each of his claws were ripped off by my Desert Penetrator sniper rifle and I sat transfixed on his health bar as the shock ricochet from my Vicious Orion stole the last few millimetres of his life. Dead. I had just killed Crawmerax and now I waited to be rewarded so, as his monstrous body crashed to the ground and exploded in a glorious rainbow of rarities, I rushed forward to soak in the “best weapons and gear ever seen on Pandora”.
The truth was, much to my agony, that my backpack already contained twenty one items that were infinitely better than anything that Crawmerax had dropped… and this was with him being killed while I had a Scavenger class mod equipped that had “+4 Scavenge Extra Items” and “+2 Team Find Rare Items” which are the highest possible multipliers for these stats.
Today alone, I have killed Crawmerax more than ten times and I have yet to find a single pearlescent weapon although I DO admit that the penultimate kill for this evening turned up an Incendiary Thanatos pistol which had a faster fire rate and larger clip than any of my other incendiary repeaters, albeit with half of the damage… but it was still better overall.
So there you have it – the greatest defeat I have found in my two and a half playthroughs of Borderlands is the defeat I feel myself from being let down by the promises made by the game itself. The bosses were a little too easy to kill, the DLC weapons were mostly inferior to those found in the main game, and the weapons dropped by Crawmerax may have been several million dollars resale value each… but the actual weapon statistics are, as yet, nothing to write home about. I’ll stick to my trusty Cold Thanatos!
That said, it’ll still be another couple of weeks of whoring Crawmerax before I finally give up and decide to move on to another game.
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