Review by samboulon
"Buggy, Bland, Boring"
Given Borderland's popularity on the Xbox360, I cannot completely condemn it to the growing pile of games that are good on a console, but largely irrelevant on the PC. The game has some merits, and while people feel it's fun, my experience with it led me to eventually loath it so much I removed it from my hard-drive after reaching level 9-10, and if you are a PC gamer, the game gives you plenty of reasons for loathing.
To begin, I'll touch on the complete mediocrity of the PC port. As the game touts it's multiplayer funbag as a selling point, and as a host or player you have to open more ports on your firewall to get it to play than players you can play with. What's more, there is little to no documentation telling you what ports to open-- a few, if I remember correctly, were not documented until a week or so after the release. Even with the massive amounts of ports open, it's almost random whether or not the game will allow you to join a friend's game, or for them to join yours. With a group of us, one being an IT manager at a local firm, it took nearly 2 hours to get three of the players hooked into a game.
Once in game, the sheer laziness and apathy of the approach to the PC port becomes shockingly evident, with menus that defy any logic when a user has a mouse: forcing the user to click Enter, the up or down arrows and certain letter combinations to take menu actions with no alternative clicks with the mouse. Frankly, the menu system felt like it was back in the DOS days when developers could not be 100% sure a users had a mouse.
All these complaints would be ignorable had the game been filled with awesome, but once you head out from the same dusty, dilapidated piece of concrete you traversed over hundreds of times in Fallout 3, faced with an annoying-voiced robot who proceeds to explain to your avatar how the technology works to enable you to die and then be teleported back to some specific starting points---leading to a preposterous suspension of disbelief ala the train-wreck of an explanation for respawning at the beginning of Unreal Tournament 3.
Then we head into combat, which, from what little I could stand from my short play through to level 9, displayed that the same apathy and lazy approach to the PC port was also applied to the AI. The roaming mutated rats, which you will spend your first few hours fighting monotonous hordes of-- like the frogs in early Diakatana levels--either charge straight at you or spit some goop. The antagonists with guns stand out in the open and shoot-- while you are strafe-ducking from cover. The only way the AI shines is that if you are even partially visible for the moment it takes you to strafe, fire, strafe back it will hit you-- seemingly regardless of distance. This echoes the consistently impossible shots made by the AI in Far Cry 2 with shotguns from extreme distance. The first boss, again, stood or ran out in the open to be shot down in quick order.
Loot drops are largely to get more ammo and are quite annoying as you are forced to click on every piece of loot to pick it up. One situation I was in involved some mutated birds hovering over a rock bridge with me below. I shot them all down, yet the loot dropped onto the bridge so I had to hike all around the map to areas where more rats had re-spawned since I had been there. Given most of your ammo comes from loot drops of in my experience, rats and birds, I had to fight rats off with my hand to hand attack.
Vehicles, highly marketed in the games commercials and literature do not fulfill in any way the Mad Max style game play you expect from the ads and seemed altogether a tacked on feature that really could have been left well enough alone.
With generic and insipid AI the only strong point of the game are the 'bazillion guns' right? I found a submachine gun early that started things on fire and this was used throughout the rest of my play time, without really feeling the need to look at all the guns that spewed forth from the rats and birds. Granted I only made it to level 9 before the monochrome levels and fighting the same rats over and over dragged the game off my hard drive.
Given the single player is rather boring, I understand why this game is currently popular on the Xbox360 as a multiplayer game-- but for PC, with it's myriad of interface and networking problems Borderlands is a disappointing pass.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 11/24/09
Game Release: Borderlands (US, 10/26/09)
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