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A&E

Borderlands 2 returns us to Pandora

by Jacob Ortega

 

Gearbox Software came out of nowhere with their 2009 release of "Borderlands."borderlands-2-box-art.jpg It caught many gamers off guard with its mixture of shooter, roleplaying and loot-fest elements put into a single good-humored game. While it had its flaws, "Borderlands" offered a unique experience that will always have a special place in my heart. I thoroughly enjoyed my first journey through the laughs and perils of the planet Pandora, so it was no surprise that I jumped on the opportunity to preorder "Borderlands 2." It’s safe to say that I am very happy with my decision.

     The game opens several years after the first game's main characters opened the Vault, a mythical cache of treasures.  The opening of the Vault caused Eridium-- a precious alien resource-- to be spread throughout the planet. I know what you're thinking, "Surely no corporation would exploit such a resource for profit." Enter the Hyperion Corporation and their new president, Handsome Jack.

     Jack, being the owner of what is now the most powerful corporation on the planet, has crowned himself Pandora's criminal-in-chief. Seeing the Vault Hunters as a threat, Jack hatches a plan to get rid of any Vault Hunters by falsely inviting them to help find the Vault. His plan nearly succeeds, leaving only four survivors (that's where you come in).

     Though the game may seem very similar in play to its prequel, you will soon find that "Borderlands 2" has many unique qualities that will definitely change the opinions of gamers who found the first game boring. The new playable characters are similar, albeit superior, to the original Vault Hunters because of their sets of skills. Options for character customization have been greatly improved, allowing players to not only change the color of their clothing but their facial appearance as well.

     Each character also comes with a specific audio log that gives hints into their past exploits that landed them on the top of Hyperion's most wanted list. Character specific abilities make their return, this time working well in tandem with each other, adding a new level of teamwork to cooperative play.

     If you thought the first game had a lot of weapons (which it did) then get ready, because "Borderlands 2" has about 2.5 gazillion more guns. Assault rifles, shotguns, rocket launchers, sniper rifles; you name it, this game likely has it. Also returning are specific weapons manufacturing brands (Torgue, Dahl, Maliwan, etc.), with each of their guns working differently from each other.

     Unlike the first game, the weapon brand differences go deeper than just bonuses and weapon types, even affecting the functionality of the weapons themselves. For instance, Torgue weapons have increased damage but slower projectile speed, while Dahl guns shoot bursts of rounds when aiming down the sights regardless of the weapon's standard firing mode. This is complemented by the game's smoother gunplay and improved console frame rate.

     Also improving in this installment is the artificial intelligence of enemies. Human foes now make intelligent use of cover and small unit tactics. They understand how to suppress, flank, bound and shift positions. They also make use of evasive maneuvers like rolls, sidesteps, hurdling over low obstacles and jumping between platforms. Enemies also follow a chain of command, with higher ranking enemies give direction to the grunts. This-- combined with the wider variety of enemies-- makes the game more challenging but not frustratingly so.

     The story has also received improvement over "Borderlands." As stated, there is a central antagonist who is established as a major player from the very start. Handsome Jack is definitely an evil character, but he is also one of the funniest characters I've seen in a game. He constantly insults players with witty dialogue as they massacre his subordinates. There's even one point where Jack kills characters that I liked without remorse, but still made the situation hilarious. He is selfish, sadistic, rich, powerful and gets under your skin very easily, which is what makes Jack so enjoyable.

     Handsome Jack aside, the other characters in "Borderlands 2" also have their fair share of wise cracks. From familiar faces to complete strangers, this game is definitely not short on laughs. In the time I've had to play "Borderlands 2," I was thoroughly entertained by the story and characters, not to mention the gameplay. I have to tip my theoretical hat to Anthony Burch for his hilarious writing.

     Many of the improvements over "Borderlands" address the nitpicky features for nitpickers such as I. The console frame rate is much smoother than the first game's. Players can mark weapons as favorites or mark them as trash, complete with the option to sell all trash with one convenient button. You can view you friends list from the main menu and pause menu, allowing you to drop in or out of cooperative play easily. Fast travel stations tell you which region your current objective is located. There is an official trading system. Players can pick up ammo and money by walking over them. You can crawl (very slowly) when downed. There's even a minimap, which is very helpful.

     As a nitpicker I also noticed a few flaws. The new map is good for convenience, but finding specific locations might be a hassle. Though the console frame rate has improved overall, there are still moments when it can get choppy, and sometimes the game may freeze momentarily (I'm playing on an Xbox 360). I've also noticed moments when enemies would move or fall through solid objects. Another flaw is that audio files tend to cut each other off, which is frustrating because many are very interesting (and there's no way to review collected audio logs). These gripes are very minor but worth mention.

     In summary, "Borderlands 2" has significantly exceeded my expectations. It takes everything "Borderlands" had going for it and improved on almost every aspect possible. The game even fixes the nitpicky flaws of its prequel, netting itself points for convenience. Fans of the original title and newcomers alike will be satisfied by the experience that Gearbox Software offers in "Borderlands 2."

Easily a 5 out of 5; this is how you make a sequel.

 

Want to see a game of your choice reviewed? Send your suggestions to amazing_delicious@yahoo.com. Any gaming platform is acceptable. I'll give it a fair and honest review. I will prioritize requests for recently released games.

Gaming is not just about fun anymore

by Liping Huang

 

The age of competitive PC gaming has evolved into a multimillion enterprise that may surpass the popularity of sports competitions. gamer girl.JPGPlayers from all over the world compete in hopes of earning money from their passion and displaying their skills in the game.

Competitive gaming is driven with a desire to win and succeed. Some Lincoln students play professionally too, for example, senior Nick Hung. Hung began early, “...[I’ve] considered myself a competitive gamer ever since I started playing my first game, real-time strategy

game, ‘Starcraft 2’ [in 2010].” And started with a simple mentality, “ I didn't really choose to be competitive, I was just really fast at understanding the game itself.” eSports gaming is not easy, “A full time competitive professional gamer plays 45-75 hours/week,” Hung says. In order to have a career in gaming, “You don't anything special to start it. You only need a computer and the game.”

Downsides for playing competitively, “You lose a lot of time if your eSports career is unsuccessful; depending if you had fun during that time or not,” Nick claims. “I'm not successful so far. I have only made about $200-300 so far. There is a trade off between practicing and participating in tournaments. I primarily practice instead of playing tournaments. If you participate into tournaments and lose, you lose practice time from the time you are in the tournament.”Another bad side of professional gaming is the rage. Junior Yulin Deng knows from experience the main hardship of it, “You get mad easily.”

Many gamers compete globally for a chance to win big. According to esportsearnings.com, the highest earnings gained from competitive gaming range from $15k to 400k! Those games include “Starcraft”, “League of Legends”, and “Dota 2”. When Hung is asked about the future of his gaming career, he responds, “I see myself playing in a real professional team, making a decent amount of money, and known in the Starcraft 2 gaming community. 5% of the professional gamers are REALLY famous and make about 5-6 figures a year. I hope to fall or get close to that 5%. If you end up not being good or not known in the community there's a chance you won't survive in the professional gaming scene.”

Although casual and competitive gamers seem different, they both have one thing in common. “All gamers love to play and enjoy games,” Deng exclaims. Passion is the motivation for the competitive players, but at the end of the day, all of the players will just go home and have fun playing a quick game.

Eating lunch is never boring

by Charles Wat

Are you tired of eating the same boring food every day during lunch?8253663_8cfb9b646c.jpg Fear no more, there is a restaurant located on 1433 Taraval St called 8 Immortals. 8 Immortals has a great variety of foods and their service is friendly.

            When I entered the restaurant, the waitress greeted me and told me to take a seat and asked what I want. I ordered my favorite food, which was beef and broccoli over rice. My order came fast and it felt very hot. I tasted the broccoli and it burned my tongue. Remember to blow on hot food before you eat them! The beef was soft and tender. One thing I didn’t like was it had too much rice.

            The next day, I want there again. The waitress greeted me and took my order. I wanted something spicy, so I ordered black pepper beef over chow mein. I got my food and again, it was hot. I waited a while and then ate the food. The pepper was spicy, just as I expected. The beef tasted different this time – it wasn’t as soft and tender. I’m guessing their chef is having a bad day and didn’t cook as well. Other than that, the food was delicious.

            I also like how all the food is order to go for students. The price of the food is $6, but for students, 8 immortals sells the food for $4. I would give 8 immortals 4 out of 5 stars for having great food, but not being consistent. 

Gangnam Style takes over Youtube and the US

by Christine Ong

 

“Oppan Gangnam Style!” What is this crazy Korean song that everyone has been talking about? Gangnam Style Screencap.JPG It’s the song “Gangnam Style” by Korean rapper Psy (pronounced “sigh”). The music video was published on Youtube on July 15 and has accumulated more than 280 million views since then. The song is about a man wanting a woman who is sensibly calm in the daytime but knows how to party and play at night. “Oppa” literally means “older brother” but is commonly used by girls as a term of affection to older boys or a boyfriend. Gangnam is a wealthy district in Seoul, the capital of South Korea, where many people go to party. Psy is trying to tell the girl he is pursuing that he is this type of person, which leads to the song’s title.

What makes this song appealing is the craziness of the music video and the accompanying dance. The video is composed of many clips of Psy doing the “horse dance” move (where he jumps up and down with his hands together as if riding on a horse) in various places around Korea including parks, a horse stable, tennis courts and more.  The silliness of the video makes it appealing to a wider audience than a standard Korean pop video would.

Standard Kpop music videos consist of the artist or group dancing in a room specially made for the music video usually accompanied by a story. “Gangnam Style” breaks this style by filming in various locations outdoors and indoors. The video also incorporates humor, which most videos don’t have. “If you get down to it, the top two reasons his [Psy’s] song and video got so big was the comedy of the ‘Gangnam Style’ dance and the electro beat in the background which is simple, but nevertheless catchy to the mainstream audience,” says Isabella Cai, a junior who listens to Kpop occasionally.

Thanks to social networking sites like Facebook and Tumblr, the song has spread all over the world and is getting much attention overseas.Psy has been a major star in Korea for over a decade but has only recently come to fame in the U.S.He has appeared on many American programs such as the “MTV Video Music Awards,” “Ellen” and “Saturday Night Live.” Every program has asked Psy to do the horse dance for them, which has become the most iconic part of the video.

“Quite honestly, without the music video and the famous funky dance move, the song would be just like any other Kpop song; catchy beat but no one knows what the heck he's saying because we don't know Korean,”  says Ananda Kong, president of Lincoln High School’s Japanese/Korean Pop Club. Also, because Psy is older than most Korean pop stars, he does not try to appear as a handsome or sexy figure. He lets himself loose in front of the camera by using eye catching dance moves, colorful sets and a lively aura that can only be produced by the energy of his rapping.

Psy is a talented performer who will continue to bring his best, no matter who his audience is.

Hello Highway has hope for tomorrow

by Charlotte Woo

 

After gaining a sizable following with his debut EP, Daniel Sumstine of Hello Highway impresses even more with his sophomore EP “Timeless.” hello highway album art.jpgThe pop-rock sounds from Hello Highway’s self-titled EP matured to create Sumstine’s perfect mix of alternative, pop and rock.

            “Timeless” opens with the track “Hope in Tomorrow,” a song full of catchy lyrics and piano driven melodies. “Hope in Tomorrow” is an uplifting track that inspires listeners to never give up and reach for the stars. Sumstine’s song structure and simple lyrics make it fairly easy to find this song sticking to your brain.

The EP’s transition to its next track is fluid. “One Last Wish” is a duet that features Anna Rocket, a rock singer-songwriter from Atlanta Georgia. Their voices blend effortlessly together. Sumstine uses stories and descriptions of the beach in his lyrics to appeal greatly to the emotions and senses of the listener. The song has a smooth-rock sound and a repetitive drum track that keeps the listener interested.

“Heart Like a Metronome” is a step back from Sumstine’s expected sound. Still containing a soft-rock sound, this track is the closest the listener will get to a real rock song. Sumstine’s voice sounds natural in the unexpected notes and rises into a falsetto tone in lyrics of the title. The percussion is more sporadic but still fits with the guitar and piano and harmonizes with the style set at the beginning of the track.

The EP’s title track “Timeless” displays a very evident piano track. The instrumental tracks were mixed well enough that for the first minute and a half, the piano seems to be the only instrument used to orchestrate the song. As the track progresses, the listener is made aware of a soft drum track and a chorus of harmonization that adds even more depth to the simple song.

            “Timeless” closes with a slower melody appropriately titled “Don’t Let It Be Goodbye…” Listeners can expect to hear a soft piano repetition mixed with the loudness of the percussion track that is used to keep the melody moving. Sumstine again slips into a falsetto in the chorus and does an amazing job closing another great EP.

            Hello Highway’s success can only grow from here on out. Independently releasing all of his music, Sumstine inspires listeners to follow their dreams, no matter how big, no matter the circumstances. For more information about Hello Highway, visit www.facebook.com/HelloHighway.