Borderlands

(PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 – Reviewed on PC)

by – “Tiger” Oliver

Pros:
The
Unreal 3 engine, great controls and great single/multiplayer modes meld flawlessly.
Guns, guns, and MOAR GUNS!
It’s like
World of Warcraft for FPS fans.

Cons:
The storyline, while engrossing, is like a lovechild of
Starship Troopers and Indiana Jones.
Just like
WoW, the quests can stack up and get tiresome to complete.
The music is average to the point of mediocrity.

Over the holidays, I’ve pretty much wasted half of my time off playing a little game called Borderlands. The first marketed “Role-Playing Shooter” is pretty much like The Elder Scrolls for gamers who like to shoot things and make them go BOOM!

And, I can truly say, this is the first game I’ve played in awhile that’s lived up to the hype.

The storyline is like the lovechild of Starship Troopers and Indiana Jones. The Vault, an ancient treasure, resides on the wasteland planet of Pandora and can only be opened every 200 years. And guess what, it’s ready to be opened. You play as one of four characters (A siren, a soldier, a hunter and a berserker) who arrives on Pandora to seek the Vault. When you arrive at the town of Fyrestone, the “Guardian Angel” contacts you and leads you along your journey.

Enough backstory, time for the run-down:

Gameplay – 4/5
While it controls like a first-person shooter (ala Halo), Borderlands runs like a role-playing game like Elder Scrolls and World of Warcraft. You go around completing quests for people which redeems you with experience, items and cash. The combat, while real-time like FPS’s, play out like RPGS – the stats of yourself, your shield and weapons & your enemies determine the damage dealt. The cool thing, though, is that critical hits aren’t random: each enemy has a weak spot. For example, a head shot will quickly kill human enemies but not spiderants, which need to be shot in the butt-end:

The guns are made up of several classes: Pistols, Repeaters, Revolvers, Shotguns, Launchers and Sub-Machine Guns (SMG’s). Each work as they sound, and each class has their own specialties of weaponry. In addition, grenades and shields are also available. There also “mod kits” which are used to modify your grenades and your own stats. And if that wasn’t enough, there are also elemental properties: fire, electricity, acid and combustible (exploding).

While the quests are much more fun, they still have what I call the “RPG curse” – the more of them you accumulate to complete, the less fun the game is and the more it turns into work.

While you can play this alone, play it with multiple players and you’ll not only get better loot, but a whole new experience that probably hasn’t been seen since Left 4 Dead/L4D II.

Odd to play at first, especially for those who aren’t used to the RPG-style of equipping, but it works out in the end.

Graphics – 5/5
I’ve looked all over seeing how I could describe the graphics on Borderlands, and I’ve got nothing. It (arguably) looks better than most games do that use the Unreal 3 engine. From the wide open environments to the dungeon areas to the boss arenas, this game is gorgeous.

On PC, if you have a decent gaming rig (where you’re decently over the minimum requirements), the frame rate may be jumpy, especially in very tense combat. If you have a mid-line gaming setup, the frame rate should be flawless. If you have just the bare minimum system requirements, play at your own risk and contact either Hans or I and tell us how it operates.

On the XBox 360 and PS3, I’ve heard that the frame rates are choppy in areas, but not enough to detract from the game.

Oh, and the Clap-traps in the game are just so darn adorable, too.

Sound – 2/5
The soundtrack sets the mood for the game – while exciting at times, most of the time it’s dull as hell between battles. If you’re having a hard time completing a quest or lost your vehicle and have to hoof it across the other side of the map to a vehicle spawn point, the background music will wear on your nerves.

Apart from that, the sound effects are great, but the dialogue is what makes the game, rom Scooter’s hick-accented one-liners to the Clap-traps.

Controls – 4/5
Same basic style as with the rest First Person Shooters in the world, maybe a few tweaks here and there. The vehicle drives a bit on the loose side, but you can make up for that by adjusting your steering to accommodate.

Replay Value – 5/5
With four character classes and the ability to do a second run-through of the game with all your equipment and stats; not to mention local, LAN and online multiplayer & two DLCs available for consoles (the second one for PC will be released sometime soon), this game has a lot to offer if you’re willing to squeeze every-last-bit of life out of it.

Overall Score- 4/5
Borderlands
shapes up to be one of the best games of 2009, although probably not on the elite class that Batman: Arkham Asylum, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves or Dragon Age: Origins reside. This is one of those games you need to play at least once, whether you’re a shooter or RPG fan, or just want something different to play.

Buy – Catch-A-RIIIIIDE!
With all the DLC that’s coming out and the replay value, Borderlands is well worth the price tag, much more than Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II is for the same price.

Rent – I don’t think so, Scooter…
Unless you just want to test-drive it, it ain’t worth the rent unless you have a GameFly account. Unless you’ll play it on levels exceeding obsession and addiction, just shell out the $50 for the disks or the download.

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One Response to “Borderlands”

  1. […] Tiger reviewed Borderlands and Guitar Hero: Van Halen. […]


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