Alan Smithee

Gearbox Has Become My New Valve

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If you’ve read this site at all over the past year or so, you should know by now that we’ve got some serious love for the company who brought us one of the most refreshing IPs to come out in over a year…that IP of course being Borderlands. We’ve gotten some great DLC from the ladies and gents there, but with their shenanigans at PAX this year, they’ve replaced the place in my heart that was once filled by Valve.

For quite some time, I had been a serious supporter of Valve through all of their endeavors, up until they came out with Left 4 Dead 2. It know that it might seem a bit childish to judge a company based on just one game, but once they came out with a sequel to a great game within the first year of it coming out, when they have been leaving other projects that have been promised for years…I couldn’t see it as anything but a money grab.

No matter how fun the game was, it just hammered home the fact that the gaming industry that I admired, due to the perception I had as a child, that it was a fun loving entity that was profitable, into a selfish unrepentant and unforgiving money making one.

The decision on Valve’s part seemed to be of those, “yeah we’re a business and we’re here to make money, and lots of it” types of decisions that I can’t stand. Yes, I understand that you’re a company, I get it that you have payroll and overhead that needs to be paid, but what these companies need to understand that we consumers are not just a massive bank of miniature piggy-banks that you can come crack open on a regular basis.

I of course speak for myself, I’m sure that there are thousands upon thousands of gamers that will have blind allegiance to Valve and will buy everything they put out…and don’t get me wrong, they put out a quality product, I just have no reason to follow them like I once did.

Instead, I’m all about Gearbox. In my opinion these guys have now become THE company to follow. The funny bit…is that they worked closely with Valve, and some of you may not have known just how close.

For example, did any of you ever play any of the Half-Life expansions that came out a looooong time ago? Do the names Opposing Force, Blue Shift, or Decay ring any bells? If you’re a true Half-Life and Valve fan, you’ve probably ran across them before…here’s the deal, they were developed by Gearbox. Yup a good chunk of the Half-Life expanded universe was created by them.

Sure, they’ve had to do some serious time making stuff like the Brothers in Arms games, but once they finally were given a chance to create something unique like Borderlands, they hit it out of the park. Literally. I have yet to find a game like Borderlands that successfully melds the RPG and FPS genres the way this game does.

I was late to the party with this game by about half a year. And to be honest, I didn’t know what to expect when I loaded it up, and after beating Mass Effect 2 I was honestly preparing myself to be let down. How wrong I was. From the moment that the game introduced the greedy aspect, I was hooked. At first it was looking for stronger weapons, then it became the actual leveling up, and then the story hooked me. The real unsung hero about this game is the humor; it never takes itself too seriously, but is never completely campy either…rather a striking balance between giggly and dramatic.

On the horizon for the company is the much anticipated Duke Nukem Forever, but for me I’m more excited to see Aliens: Colonial Marines…though I’m afraid it’ll become vaporware in the long run. I guess we’ll just have to wait and find out. If they really have become my new Valve, then I’m sure I’ll be used to it.

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