Game Review: Borderlands
Hey readers, we have a gamer in our midst now. Tom will be contributing some gaming reviews and analysis from time to time.
When Autumn arrives every year with leaves turning and temperatures dropping it vexes me. The colors are beautiful and wondrous at times with the sudden coldness that follows summer. I’m alone and cold and wondering how this happens again and again, year after year. Everyone needs more money and free time, but no one needs it the way I do when fall approaches. It’s almost frightening really, this itch I have. There are always way too many good video games that come out. Even when I do have enough money I still won’t have enough time to play them all as much as I want. And so it begins.
Borderlands is a first person shooter with elements of role-playing that help you progress and level your character up so you can take on the next challenge with better guns, skills and generally a more mind-blowing experience the more you play. In some far off desert planet you’re looting and killing your way to some ancient alien vault that will hopefully have vast amounts of superior technology and weaponry. Some people claim this is a new genre of video game. On the back of it’s box it says it’s and RPS or role-playing shooter. It’s plays like a shooter and the setting looks like a cel-shaded version of the Mad Max universe. But like the back of the box suggests, this is no ordinary shooter. Yes, there is a lot of awesome battles and a ton of enemies to shoot down and it’s controls instantly felt like COD to me. However, this is a true RPG game at work with a character leveling system, literally millions of combinations of guns, random loot drops, and much more. The landscape and visuals are amazing if you are a fan of cel-shading and even if you’re not it does stand out. Weapons are plentiful and you’ll be collecting a lot from dead foes and then selling them to get your bank up. Story wise there is not much here to offer but that’s not what this game is about. If you’ve ever played Baldur’s Gate or Diablo and wanted an FPS version, you got it.
You start as one of four classes that you get to choose from. There is a soldier, hunter, siren and berserker. They each have unique abilities with skill trees to unlock as you level up. A slight flaw in this game comes with a lack of character customization. Sure you can change the colors of your protagonists clothes (Yippee!?) but how come there isn’t any armor to buy and put on? It sure would been cool to show off your new gear to your friends online. This will not keep you from playing through this game. You will more than likely find yourself up in the middle of the night contemplating whether or not you should call into work tomorrow so that you reach level 31 and finally use that sniper rifle that’s plus 499 damage. When you finish the game this first time you can play it again with the same character and the game will start with higher level enemies. This makes the replayability of this game incredible considering the cooperative mode that is offers.
The multiplayer of Borderlands is unique to say the least. At any point during your campaign you can hop online to play with others that are at roughly the some point in the game as you. All of the loot that you collect while playing online stays with you if you decide to drop out and play solo again. Up to four players can play cooperatively online at one time and the more players that are playing the tougher the game will get. Vehicles due play a small role in the game and while playing online they are more fun. With one player driving and one on the turret you can drive and shoot enemies Halo-style. The cars are used mostly for traveling faster but the time I did spend shooting the turret I had fun. You can face off with others by challenging them to a duel for a 1 vs.1 showdown to see who has the better character.
The hours that I spent playing Borderlands were fun and engaging. It really felt like I was playing a small-scale online role-playing game with solid FPS controls. I hope other developers take note from Gearbox Software and see that it’s worth being unique and taking risks when a reward like Borderlands is what you end up with. Aside from more character options and a bland story this game is grand in a market that is frothing with rip-offs and sequels. If you’re an FPS and an RPG fan you simply have to play this game. For anyone who is a fan of either genre and is open for new experiences I would also recommend it. It can be quite addictive shooting giant spiders and bandits in this desert wasteland knowing your next best weapon could drop at any time.