Sunday, January 26, 2014

Review: Borderlands (Game)

Gearbox Software have developed some spectacular classic titles in the past; Halo, Counter Strike, Half-Life: Opposing Force, Half-Life: Blue Shift and the Brothers in Arms series to name a few. So it's no wonder why the public expect great things from them and rarely does Gearbox Software fail to deliver. Borderlands is yet another claim to fame for the company, having received revering reviews across multiple media platforms and a savage fan base to boot. But does the game really deserve all of the attention it received?

Genre: Action, RPG
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Release Date: October 20th, 2009
Play Time: 25+ Hours
Price: $19.99 USD
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Official Website



                                      










Rating: 7.0/10







Gearbox Software have developed some spectacular classic titles in the past; Halo, Counter Strike, Half-Life: Opposing Force, Half-Life: Blue Shift and the Brothers in Arms series to name a few. So it's no wonder why the public expect great things from them and rarely does Gearbox Software fail to deliver. Borderlands is yet another claim to fame for the company, having received revering reviews across multiple media platforms and a savage fan base to boot. But does the game really deserve all of the attention it received?

There's not much that can be said here that hasn't been said about Borderlands in the past. The game has been out now for three years and counting and most gamers who are interested in it have already played it, those that haven't have been waiting on price drops. If, however, you've been living under a rock here's the long and short rundown of the game. Borderlands is a first person shooter (FPS) that ties in role playing game (RPG) elements, at the beginning of the game the player has the opportunity to choose from four playable characters; Lilith the Siren, Brick, Roland the Soldier and Mordecai the Hunter. Each playable character has a different specialization and unique action skill, ultimately the skill and comfort level of the gamer will depend on which character is best suited for them.


The game takes place on a planet known as Pandora in the year 5252. Multiple colonization ships have been dispatched to this planet, which is said to be on the edge of the galaxy, in search of mineral resources. Although soon the colonists, and companies that came with them, discover that the planet has little to offer. Once the companies notice they're not making a quick buck they up and leave the planet, and most of the colonists, behind; they also make sure to let the criminals that they had forcefully employed and labored loose, oops. After seven years pass the planet's slow orbit brings a transition from winter to spring, allowing for the emergence of Pandora's inhabitants from hibernation. Soon the leftover colonists discover ancient alien technology and the carvings of what appear to indicate a mysterious Vault. The Vault is said to contain the secrets to the alien technology. With no known location of The Vault, the colonists seek the help of a vault hunter... which is where you come in.

All throughout the game the player is wondering exactly what treasures this mysterious Vault contains. This is truly the plot essence that keeps the audience enthralled and continuing through the piles of missions they will have to eradicate in order to finish the game. There are some 120+ missions to finish throughout the longevity of Borderlands, ranging from main quests to side quests. Among these missions the player will encounter multiple bosses, a cache of quirky NPCs, a moderate variety of hostiles and ridiculous amounts of weaponry all while traversing vast maps. This alone is more than enough content to keep the player going for well over 20 hours of game time, making Borderlands a long lasting game with decent incentive of multiple playthroughs.


The game play itself is smooth and the button mapping is highly functional while keeping the same layout of most modern FPS style games. At any given time the player is allowed to have four guns equipped, grenades, their action skill and a shield. Like many RPG games, Borderlands comes with three distinct skill trees per character that are different depending on which character the player chose. For each level up, one point is awarded and the player can then choose to place it on any skill in any tree that they desire, up to five points per skill. As the player levels up, to a maximum of level 50, their health increases and they become stronger as they strategically place their skill points. There is also a limit on backpack space, however this can be increased by finding hidden Clap Trap missions throughout the game.

When initially advertised Borderlands boasted that it has tons of weaponry at the gamer's disposal. While this is true, many of the guns are throwaways at later levels. Taking on the RPG element again, each weapon has a rarity associated with it; white is common, green is uncommon, blue is rare, purple is epic and orange is legendary. Of course the higher the rarity the better the gun is on a general note, however this is not always true. The weaponry can also come infused with shock, corrosive, explosion or fire elements that can have a massive effect if used on the appropriate enemy type, otherwise it's effect may be detrimental to the gamer's progression.


The art in Borderlands is cell shaded and comic styled, leading to a very unique take on FPS and RPG games when it was initially released. This style has seen many copy cats in the following years, though at this point the art hasn't gotten old. The game has also aged well in the three plus years that it has been accessible. The enemies and bosses are fun to revisit time and time again, however the maps get tediously tiresome. Almost each and every map has the same look; a barren wasteland filled with dirt and dust, leading to mostly greenish brown tones that become dull. Sure, Pandora is a wasteland, but aside from a couple maps with mountains of garbage or the occasional blue alien runes the game becomes sore to look at.

The story line stays fairly solid throughout the game and the player will encounter many NPCs along the way. Gearbox Software's style of perverted humor never becomes old as the gamer will be subjected to many humorous recordings that are found, Easter eggs such as porno magazines, quest descriptions, findable objects, one particularly deranged quest giver who's isolation has caused her to go insane and just the funny general talk of the NPCs themselves. However, when the player progresses to the end of the game they may find themselves immensely disappointed at the ending, which provides little to no closure to the multiple hours put into the game.


The soundtrack for Borderlands leaves little to be desired, but each map comes with it's own subtle ambiance. The gun fire is well defined, when the player runs they will hear their character breathing heavy after a while, there are footsteps and the enemies have their own unique sounds to them as well. The voice overs are also crystal clear in quality and the voice actors have done an outstanding job in portraying their particular characters, each with unique attributes and defining characteristics.

Overall Borderlands is not a game to be missed by FPS enthusiasts that will enjoy some RPG elements that spice up the game play. It ended up receiving it's own Game of the Year edition which can now be purchased for $29.99 USD, inclusive of all DLC that was brought out after the game's release. The game leaves room for multiple playthroughs for later dates as the player will end up completing the game around level 35, although the remaining levels can be made up in the DLC content. The maps are what ultimately bring the content that this adventure has to offer down, as they cause the playthroughs to become tedious and boring at times. The main enemies, while there are quite a few different ones, also can become stale and repetitive; Psychos and Skags will be your main foes from beginning to end. At the end of the day, Borderlands is definitely not a title to be missed, so if you've been waiting now is your chance as the price is at the most minimal that it will probably get.

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