Borderlands is the newest game from the guys over at Gearbox and it is truly a game that exceeded my expectations. As far as gaming cliches go, I feel that most gamers can agree that post-apocalyptic wasteland is definitely on the list. However, Borderlands really makes the best out of what it has. As an FPS/RPG, I was expecting another Fallout 3 (I thought that game was complete trash), and I was a bit apprehensive to try Borderlands; however, as previously stated, I was impressed.
The story of Borderlands is one that almost seems the opposite of Fallout 3. Instead of leaving a vault, you are finding one, but this vault is full of advanced technology and treasure. Actually, the vault in fallout was pretty advanced too… I digress. The game takes place on a planet named Pandora. Parents tell their children a fable about a hidden vault on Pandora that holds advanced alien technology. Many children grow up and spend their entire lives searching for the vault. I like how the story builds around fables and plays at the childhood curiosities of the characters and society. There are a few continuity issues, but nothing that should really detract from the game.
As far as looks go, Borderlands is a really good looking game. The switch to cell-shading was a great choice to make, even if it was done a bit late in development. The game has a tendency to drop framerate quite drastically when a lot is going on, which is a definite drawback. Also, I noticed a fair amount of pop in, most commonly, after loading a new area, and the pop in was noticeably worse in online play.
As far as gameplay goes, I feel that Borderlands really does it right. The gunplay feels great and really does justice to the FPS part of the game. The RPG aspects are done extremely well also. The most awkward part of this game would have to be the driving. I felt that it was a tad loose and could have used a bit more refining. In Borderlands, you get the choice to play as one of four characters: Mordecai the Hunter, Roland the Soldier, Lilith the Siren, or Brick the Berserker. Each character has a special ability that can be used to give them a competitive edge. Special abilities are learned once your character reaches level 5. Another perk about hitting level 5 is the acquisition of skill points at every level after. Skill points can be distributed amongst the three skill trees, making you character different depending on the allocation of points. Personally, I play a support class soldier.
Borderlands is a loot grind, and that is an understatement. With over 17 million unique guns, players can never be sure that they have the best possible weapon. Weapons go by a color-based rank system, which is quite similar to World of Warcraft (white, green, blue, purple, yellow). Later in the game, you can pick up guns with added perks, including acid, electricity, and explosive. You also receive grenade upgrades which give different properties to your grenades, which can give you even more of a competitive edge. There are class-specific enhancements as well, which can give points into certain skills and enhance passive abilities. You can also add perks to your class specific ability and change it to suit the situation. You have to be careful with how many items you have, because bag space is extremely limited, even after you earn most of the bag upgrades.
Borderlands allows for up to four player multiplayer, which is how I played most of the game. When playing with more people, not only does the game get more difficult, but the loot gets substantially better. Playing with people you know is highly advised, as there is no trade system. Playing with friends allows for a different experience, and it was an extremely fun experience at that. However, the pop in and framerate dropping is worse in multiplayer that it is in just regular single player.
Although Borderlands does sport some performance issues, overall, I feel that the game has more redeeming qualities. Simply put, the game is just a damn good time, and if you allow a bit of lag and texture pop in ruin it, then you are looking too far into it. I have to say that Gearbox made a winner with Borderlands.
- Game: Borderlands
- Platform Reviewed: PS3
- Developer: Gearbox
- Publisher: 2k Games
- MSRP: $59.99
- Release Date: October 26, 2009
- Review Copy Info: This game was purchased by DualShockers Inc. for reviewing purposes.