Somewhere around 1990 my sister, nearly four years my senior, received a NES as a gift. The first game we played, as is true for most people, was the original Super Mario Bros.
Randy Pitchford is showing me an email he received a day ago on his phone. In it someone asks the Gearbox Software boss whether Aliens: Colonial Marines, which came out in February 2013 for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, will be remastered for PlayStation 4 or released as part of the PlayStation Plus subscription service.
Ultimate Badass Savages? These guys don't sound like they're going to go down easily. Yet with Krieg the loveable psycho - he's Borderlands 2's latest class, and I added the loveable bit myself - they're despatched in a matter of seconds. This is because of Krieg's action skill - a neat little piece of classic Borderlands design called Buzz Axe Rampage. Press that bumper button, and Krieg produces his signature psycho axe. Melee power and movement speed are both given a serious boost, and he can even lob axes around like some kind of deadly and deranged hot dog vendor, pacing the bleachers at the world's bloodiest ball game.
Kameo: Elements of Power didn't just help kick off the current console generation, it played a role in the early days of one of its more interesting - and divisive - trends, too. Shortly after the Xbox 360 came out in December 2005, I went over to my friend - and handy early adopter - Stu's house to see what the new hardware could do. Stu was playing Kameo, which looked colourful and pleasant and busy with particle effects, but there was something else taking place on the screen that seemed completely weird. As Christmas inched closer in the real world, Christmas was inching closer in Kameo, as well: all the elves and pixies, grunts and lumbering yeti-type things the protagonist could transform into were decked out in scarlet pom-pom hats and little red and white ruffs. Santa Claus had come to toy town.
I was going to start by saying that Mr. Torgue's Campaign of Carnage feels like the Borderlands 2 experience ramped up to 11, but I realise that's a foolish claim to make. Borderlands 2 twisted the dial on its own amplifier far past 11 long, long ago. At some point that dial fell off, was kicked under the sofa and was chewed by a drooling bulldog, while the valves in the amp are close to bursting from the endless power chords hammered out on a grimy Les Paul.
The Mechromancer hasn't had it too good so far, born into the midst of the Girlfriend Mode PR disaster, and then released, somewhat ahead of schedule, with little fanfare. There's also the question of adding a fifth class to a game that works rather brilliantly with just four. Cool name aside, do we need Borderland's latest leading lady?
This autumn is passing in a wonderful swirl of loot and of levelling. Divided between Torchlight 2 and Borderlands 2, I'm picking over weapon drops, sifting my inventory, and assigning skill points and ember chips from rosy dawn to misty dusk.
The force is a beautiful, infuriating, mesmerising thing. It's often drafted in to provide the true high-wire moment in a really good card trick, and it's the kind of technique that novice magicians struggle for years to perfect.
Borderlands 2 was built in a bank.
There is a boss in Borderlands 2 so tough you probably won't be able to kill it. But there's a quest to kill it anyway. It's called 'You.Will. Die. (Seriously.)'
GTA comes close but, if you ask me, no game gets under the skin of America quite like Borderlands. That's why - Badass Fire Skags aside - dropping in on Pandora can feel a little like visiting Arizona, or New Mexico, or the red plains of Utah. Gearbox's endlessly replayable shooter-looter resembles a yard sale in the south west states grown vast and ungainly. It's where the pioneer spirit meets the get-rich-quick mentality, where trailer trash quest-givers greet you in front of a clapboard outhouse, and where the sequel's new villain, Handsome Jack, is a cross between a Roger Ramjet second-stringer and Abraham Lincoln's meaner, cooler younger brother.
Take away the purple skies and city-sized drilling rigs and you're in the dusty America of Steinbeck and Andrew Wyeth, but Borderlands also understands the lurid, gleefully tacky homeland of Billy Mays Jr (RIP) and John Carpenter. The end result's crass and canny and terminally run down, and the whole thing revolves around life, liberty, and the pursuit of guns.
Because in Borderlands, guns mean happiness. That's whether they're dropping from the bodies of downed bandits, or glinting inside the chilled confines of those over-engineered crates you stumble across every five minutes. Vault hunters are lured to Pandora by the promise of riches, but they're paid - and convinced to stick around - with the weapons that come their way in endless torrents: the toxic shotguns, electrical SMGs, explosive repeaters, and crit-casting rocket launchers. Late on in my adventures in the original game, I found an eight-chambered shotgun that set almost all my enemies on fire and reloaded in milliseconds. I still think of it sometimes. I'm surprised I don't have a faded Polaroid of it on my fridge, actually.