I'm a little surprised by how much agreement I received in response to the Borderlands review. The fanboys are really letting their side down, considering how popular the game is. Or rather, how popular it was for the first few weeks after it came out. I guess since I left the review so late, everyone had plenty of time to let the cold light of day sink in. As I've said, that's why my reviews tend to come out later than most; nothing dies faster than hype after a game actually gets released.
So angry commenters tend to thin out after a while, which is good news for anyone who still has faith in the human race, but less so if you're all geared up to respond to your detractors. I mean, come on guys, give me something to work with. What if I said the final boss fight was a piece of shit? I mean, literally, you actually have to fight a great big piece of shit that sits in one place soaking up your bullets and knocking you off a cliff with incredibly cheap attacks? And it has more hit points than every Serious Sam enemy combined, and if you die, it gets them all back, but you don't get your ammo returned? So therefore Borderlands is worse than getting your eyelids peeled off? Anything? No? OK, I guess you all knew that already.
Just to repeat myself (again), all games must stand up on its single-player. If a game is only fun when you and your friends do it together then that's a review of your friends, not the game. And playing Borderlands single player didn't work for me because it felt like an MMOG with no other people in it. Now, I have enjoyed playing MMOGs in the past, and I know that sounds weird coming from someone who supports the human extinction project, but you don't necessarily play MMOGs to socialize.
That, too, might sound weird. After all, take something like World of Warcraft and subtract all the other human players, and you end up with something like, well, Borderlands on single player: an empty, howling land dotted with unmoving NPCs who only grow brief and fleeting pseudo-personalities in the thirty seconds it takes for them to give you a quest. MMOGs really don't stand up as single player games, but that's how I endeavored to play WoW. I ignored guilds, rarely joined parties, added no friends and generally did little to distract myself from the continuing pursuit of XP and a skeleton horse of my very own. And I remember asking myself at the time - why don't I just play Morrowind, then, or some other RPG that's geared for single player? Why put myself through a fairly mediocre game just for the sake of playing around people I never interact with?
I've compared notes with a few other people who play MMOGs the same way, and the phrase that I keep coming back to is "I don't just want to play alone; I want to play alone with other people around." And I think that's it. Other people in a game do more than just provide opponents, or someone to converse with, get to know and leave your spouse for. They're just as much part of the experience as the level design and the thousands of wandering monsters; they all go together to create the atmosphere. Even if you're only watching from a distance as they run back and forth between the inns, shops and questing areas, people give the impression of a bustling, breathing world that would otherwise seem empty and dead.