Borderlands is a very dangerous concept, and Gearbox Software are very bad men for realising it. We all know how time-munchingly compulsive RPGs like Diablo and World of Warcraft are, but to seamlessly blend all of that looting, leveling, character customisation and tactical depth with the visceral thrills of co-operative FPS? And a stunningly gorgeous, raucously fun, and downright funny one at that? Fiendish. Borderline insidious, in fact.
Suddenly no-one is safe from that all-consuming addiction usually reserved for WoW guilds. Even the hardiest, stat-avoiding, RPG-allergic shooter fan can’t fail to become absorbed in the accessible depth of Borderlands. Its super-streamlined mechanics make managing your increasingly impressive arsenal a breeze, and pimping out your character’s development into a fully-customised apocalyptic arse-kicker couldn’t be easier. And did we mention that there are potentially 17 million unique guns to forage for? Alone, Borderlands is a compulsive RPG shooter. Played with a co-operative team of complementary character classes, its brainy violence becomes a goddamn way of life.
Rarely has sadomasochism been such a prevalent part of an XBLA game. You’ll try, fail, try, fail and try again to complete Trials HD’s most punishing physics puzzles, and no matter how hard it humiliates you, you’ll always crawl back for just one… more… go…
Most videogame voiceovers are forgettable. Occasionally someone will actually deliver a notable performance, and in a medium where the majority of voice acting is grating, even a decent take comes off as brilliant. Even rarer are voice actors who deliver not just quality work, but also quotable lines that we take with us for months after the game is over. So even though Ellis, Left 4 Dead 2’s lovable redneck, doesn’t have a lot of competition, he knocks it out of the park.
Above: Thank god for his buddy Keith
Ellis is without a doubt the butt of several jokes, but his Southern-style anecdotes manage to be absurd and endearing at the same time. Three GR editors hail from “the South” and applaud Ellis’s (and actor Eric Laden’s) balance of “boy isn’t he stupid” and “whadda guy!”
Introduced as a minor villain in 2003, Fawful takes center stage in Bowser’s Inside Story and brings his one-of-a-kind, intentionally mistranslated speech pattern along for the ride. “I have chortles!”
Wii controls…make game… better? Does not compute. After seeing the likes of Pikmin and Mario Tennis have unnecessary motion controls shunted upon them for Nintendo’s cynical ‘Play on Wii’ GameCube reboots, we expected Prime Trilogy to make the first two games worse, not better. How wrong we were. Reborn on Nintendo’s much maligned little white box, the original groundbreaking masterpiece and its darker sequel were instantly enhanced by spot-on Wiimote-assisted aiming.
Unerringly accurate, the system provided a peerless sense of control for a console FPS. It made shooting Space Pirates a veritable wet dream about femme fatale bounty hunters in form-fitting space suits. And, better yet, the revamped controls let you move and aim at the same time, one of the few glaring omissions from Samus’s incredible GameCube debut. With three amazing titles in one recession-friendly package, Prime Trilogy reminded us motion controls don’t always have to detract from a game.
No, we’re not talking about the unbalanced sequel. Instead our love is for the bundled classic Escape from Butcher Bay. Thanks to an HD-reskinning and Achievement/Trophy support the game miraculously rose from the supreme shittiness of Vin Diesel like a phoenix soaring out of a sewage dump.
It may have had a patchy start, but Apple's iPhone has had a phenomenal year, establishing itself as a true contender in the handheld gaming scene. Top games on the service have already become million-sellers, which is bigger than most console games. There really is something for everyone on iPhone; Flash classics like Peggle, Canabalt and Bejeweled 2 live alongside souped-up ports of old games like Driver. Then there are impressive reworkings of console games like Tom Clancy's HAWX, Resident Evil 4 and Metal Gear Solid.
Above: Driver, HAWX and Metal Gear are surprisingly good
And with lower prices than either portable platform for the majority of releases as well as our favourite price of all for many (that's 'free'), there's very little reason to deny Apple the name of third major player in the handheld market. Take a look at our recent 50 iPhone games you need to play feature and then tell us it's not a proper gaming machine.