Borderlands is a game most of you have heard of, if you haven’t, then you’re hearing of it now. It is a Role-Playing Game/First Person Shooter developed by Gearbox. With that in mind, most of you will think “Oh, it’s just a Fallout 3 clone.” Well don’t, it’s far from it. If you need a game to compare Borderlands to, it would be best to think one of Blizzard Entertainment’s massively successful games: Diablo II, or World Of Warcraft.
If anyone has been following this game for any length of time, you know that about halfway through development that Gearbox made a dramatic change in style from a grimdark realistic look to the now, cel shaded-esque “Concept Art Style”. Typically you loose a lot of detail in cel shading, but with Gearbox’s method you maintain the style, while keeping tiny details like a wrinkle on cloth. The graphics are very suiting of the game, but there are hitches here and there. Water effects are nonexistent, and on-character shadows tend to be fragmented. With previous few I cannot say for certain if they are a product of the Unreal Engine or not, however, the ridiculous texture pops are. You would think that people would either find a work around or license a better engine. Oh well, I guess it can’t be helped.
The sound fits the game unbelievably well. Walking unknowingly past a skag nest, only to hear one running at you from behind is at intense at it gets. Guns sound different to the point that really fell them for what the are. Be it an assault rifle that sounds like an anti-aircraft gun or an SMG that sounds like you could kill ten people without them even noticing, it’s really amazing how many different sounds they have. The background music is a bit western and use a lot of plucking in strings to give it that authentic feel. Needless to say, if you enjoyed the music of Firefly, you will feel right at home here.
This is where Borderlands truly shines. The game consists of either single player, or up to four player co-op in Borderlands’ nice open world. You have buggies that come in various colors and in either a rocket launcher or chain gun variant where one player drives and the other guns. Borderlands has a quest system set in place to where you find a quest giver, fulfill the requirements, and return for the reward, not too different than you standard RPG. Quests come in the “go here, kill that”, “go here, find this”, and “go here, find this, and kill something with it”. If you have ever in your life played an instance on World Of Warcraft you know exactly what to expect from “dungeons” on here. You go into an area, fight your way through many a “peon” and several sub-bosses to make it to the final boss. And when I say sub-bosses and bosses, I mean exactly that. Be prepared to have yourself killed SEVERAL times in the process of fighting through the instance as well as burning through most of your ammo supply. Dying consistes of two stages. 1) You are knocked to the ground and can either kill someone while downed to get up, or wait for a teammate to pick you up. 2) if neither of the previous happen you will respawn at the last checkpoint marker you passed, aptly named “New-U”, You’ll come back with no real penalty other then a loss of money. You really feel the need to work together, and I’d say doing so is more important than Left 4 Dead. On to one of the most touted aspects of the game. Guns. As has been said, this game has guns, guns, and MORE guns. You will literally never find the the same gun twice. Even if you find a gun that has the same sight, the same barrel and same name, they will not have the same stats. The amount of variety in the game truly does match that of Diablo and World Of Warcraft.
As an obvious statement, no game is perfect. And Borderlands is no exception. You will come across bugs here and there such as getting stuck between a ramp and a rock. The only way to get free, being dying. The occasional graphic glitch during respawn, or shadow not lining up correctly. But in all honesty, you will be enjoying the game too much to care.
This Review is based on the Xbox 360 version of Borderlands.