Borderlands Review

I was thinking of writing this review yesterday. I wanted to shake off the usual hype you get when you get the game and play it for the first few minutes. It was supposed to work.. But it didn’t. Yes, Borderlands is that good. Now’s the time for one of my “friendly” warnings:

Borderlands is a first person shooter with role playing elements. If you want a deep RPG system implemented in a FPS, you’ll have to wait a while.

Now to get on with the review. First, the introduction. Borderlands is a role playing shooter developed by Gearbox Software and Published by 2K Games. Borderlands takes place on the frictional planet of Pandora, a desert wasteland. The game’s story is about treasure hunters who have come to Pandora in search of The Vault: an ancient myth. Whoever discovers the vault will have access to all it’s great treasures. The story is one of Borderlands’ biggest downsides. Yes, it is told with style but it’s clichéd to the max and without much adieu. You just jump of the buss and get on, splattering aliens and bandits. But before that you need to select one of the four playable classes – Roland, the soldier. Perfect for taking lots of damage without going down and taking someone tough down. The soldier is the easiest class to play with. The next one is Mordecai, the hunter. He acts as a sniper and can’t take much damage. His power lies in his accuracy. The third one is Lilith, the siren. She acts as a hybrid class, being able to heal her allies while packing a serious punch. The last one is Brick, the berserker. His job is tanking and dealing powerful hits, taking advantage of his muscles. Your choice will determine your play style and your special ability, your action skill. The action skill for the soldier is creating a turret that shoots nearby enemies. The siren turns invisible and moves really fast. The hunter summons a pet bloodwing that hurts enemies and flies back at ya. As for the Berserker, his skill is to go in Berserk mode and deal really powerful melee hits. Aside from that action skills, which you can access at level 6, you have access to a whole tree of passive skills. The quest system in Borderlands is really simple – just like any hack and slash RPG. A great role in the game play it’s arsenal. When Borderlands was announced, Gearbox told us about 87 gazillion guns. Stop rubbing your eyes. It’s just a fake number to show the power of the gun generating script. Yes, you heard right. Borderlands generates guns automatically, leaving room for an infinite looting experience. The world of Borderlands is separated into several areas. Unfortunately, the large, open world we were promised turned out to be a disappointment. Not that it’s small but compared to giant RPG’s like Fallout it’s nothing.

I think i just gave too much detail to the RPG side of the game. And this is the biggest disappointment towards Borderlands.  It’s another shooter with simple role playing elements. Not that i was expecting something more. Borderlands starts out and end up a true FPS. The quality of the action is outstanding! You keep pumping the buttons against restless hordes of enemies, your enjoying the flying damage indicators that fill out your screen and, once the battle is over, you take the loot. This is the time to congratulate Gearbox on the perfect battle balance. The battles start and end when they’re supposed to and you won’t be fighting tons of enemies like in Serious Sam, for example. Most of the time you will be trying to find a quest location, and will be facing off in random encounters. The quest system, as i said, is simple. And i mean simple. The quests get repetitive and boring after a while. The quest locater system is close to the one in the latest TES, a simple bar with directions and dots.  But once you get into the action you will forget everything. It’s just so much fun! Shooting, shooting, shooting.. Congratulations for making the core part, the action, of Borderlands perfect, Gearbox. Borderlands also includes some vehicle moments when you and your group will be on load, pumping like crazy. Those are quite standard, actually. The game also features a standard respawn system, that punishes you for dying. When all your HP is gone you will enter the so called “last breath mode”. This is where you have a limited amount of time to kill the enemy that took your life. If you fail – you will respawn and be forced to pay for the service. If you do manage to kill the target, however you will receive another chance.

I just said the action in Borderlands couldn’t get better. I lied. The amount of fun you get while playing online is of critical dozes. The game may be fun in singleplayer but it was obviously designed to play on the net. All the elements you would expect are present – PvP, communication, automatically adjustable difficulty. Ok, you didn’t expect the last one.  It’s simple – while you play alone the game automatically sets the difficulty to match the skills of a single player. When another guy joins, his level is taken into consideration and the game difficulty increases. Everytime someone leaves it balances itself to match the amount of players. The looting system also does that. Depending on the number of players, their levels and equipment, they get a different amount of different drops. Nice work in that department, too.

The next admirable aspect of Borderlands is the style and humor of the game. Every character delivers a certain amount of coolness. Their lines are well written and, although they are cliché, they’re fun. The style of Borderlands is somehow devilish and awesome. I mentioned humor. Yes, Borderlands isn’t just art style. It also has some moments where you will smile or even die laughing. For example, the caption text of one of the bandit bosses, Nine Toes, reads “Nine Toes (also, he has three balls)”. This is supported by the outstanding style and design. I had my doubts about it when i first heard about the game. I’m happy to say i was fooled. Borderlands simply looks amazing! Which comes at a price, unfortunately. You will need a beast PC(if your a pc gamer, of course) to run the game on it’s highest settings. The style is very well placed and shaped – the game looks cartoony and overally amazing. The design is also really good. The music is typical desert tunes that won’t even get to your ears unless you let them. But you won’t regret it – the music suits everything perfectly. The voice acting is done professionally. Sadly, just a few lines are actually voiced. The others are just plain text.

Time for the closing comments. Borderlands is a truly great and slick hybrid shooter. If you know what to expect. The game is polished very well and, though it has it’s flaws, it deserves your attention. With it’s great co-op mode, tons of content, amazing action scenes and solid RPG elements, Borderlands is one of the best games you can get nowadays.

[xrr rating=4/5]

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4 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. I completely agree with your 4 out of 5. Borderlands is a lot of fun, if not a bit frustrating at times. Dying, which if you’re not careful can happen awfully quick, seems to be harsh – sometimes over a thousand dollars to respawn? Not that money isn’t made hand over fist, and most times you’re selling guns you pick up instead of buying them, but it just felt a little tough.
    Still, it’s a solid game, and while the load times are pretty long, I’m sure I’ll be spending a lot of time playing through it… at least unti Assassin’s Creed II launches next month!

  2. Great review, I just got the game myself and am playing through. I agree the load times and getting killed quickly is a problem but im sure it will get better once I figure out the game controls.

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