The Backlog: We've Reached the Border; What a Nice-Looking Land edition

Backlog-y What legends of game-playing intrigue do we, the stewards of Silicon Sasquatch, bring you this week?

There's more of the same (Titan Quest) with a nice lime twist of newness (Borderlands); there's the late-to-the-party-but-enjoying-it-anyway epic (Brütal Legend); and then there's the dreaded blackness of managing grad school responsibilities (Portland State University -- rated "M" for mature).

There ain't no rest for the wicked


If you'd asked me two months ago whether I was excited for Borderlands, I'd have scoffed. Sure, Gearbox made a couple Half-Life expansions I enjoyed and delivered a real overlooked gem of a game in Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30, but they haven't come up with many surprises in the past few years.

As PAX 2009 was drawing to a close, I wandered over to the Gearbox booth to get a ten-minute hands-on demonstration with Borderlands. In that brief span of time, my apathy transformed into elation -- this was the first-person shooter/ role-playing game hybrid I'd been yearning for all these years. I walked away from the booth convinced the game would be worth owning, and I waited out the next month and a half as patiently as I could.

Now that it's here, I'm pleased to say Borderlands is everything I had hoped it would be. It's full of wit, style, and finely tuned action-RPG mechanics that, while a bit unoriginal, are executed with quality. It's almost enough to wash the sour taste of the disastrous Hellgate: London out of my mouth.

You know something's really interesting when people aren't staring at the giant wings of the demonic Eddie Riggs


Along with playing "Oh god I'm halfway through my first term of grad school," I've spent time alternating between shaking my fist at and being thankful for the Europeans who got Forza 3 this week -- it's validating my pre-order decision many times over. Foreign coverage hasn't influenced me this much since Gran Turismo 4.

Also, I played a bit more NCAA 10 and Brütal Legend. But, mostly, I'm trying to survive my classes.

Lucky you! You get a bonus Borderlands screenshot


I'm still playing Titan Quest. Yeah, I know. Best $5 I've ever spent though -- on a videogame.

But this week's titles of actual interest didn't find their way into my disc drive until the tail end: Brütal Legend and Borderlands. Slowly, but surely, I'm scratching away the surface layers of each game with dilligence and child-like excitement. What's going on, 2009? You've produced almost too many surprisingly great games so far.

Should I accept each game's hype without taking that grain of salt everyone always warns me about?

Yes, I think it'll be OK.

There's not much else to say yet, unfortunately. Installing Windows 7 took away some of my PC gaming time this week due to reinstalling and optimizing, so finishing TQ and getting to know Champions Online were put on the back burner.

You'll have to excuse me, but it's time to go giggle at Brütal Legend and cause severe eyestrain from grinding away in Borderlands.