Review by Oy1919
"We don't take kindly to mentioning Fallout 3 in these parts..."
Borderlands takes you to the wasteland planet of Pandora in search of The Vault', a mysterious alien storehouse is said to house something'. While some believe it exists, many don't. As a Vault Hunter freshly arrived on Pandora, you'll be scouring every inch of the planet for clues to the location of this mystical place
I'll point out now that I've only had the chance to complete the game solo. I've not had that much chance to get online to play the game, so the review and my opinions are based solely on the single player campaign.
While Borderlands is billed as an FPS-RPG, it's very different from last years Fallout 3. Although they are both games played in the First-Person, they play very differently. Fallout 3 was very much a shooter with RPG elements, whereas Borderlands is an RPG played as a FPS. In Fallout 3, you could pretty much handle anything that came your way; regardless of it's level, as long as you were careful and had enough ammo for your gun of choice. In Borderlands however, you quickly realise that if you're a level lower than the enemy you're trying to kill, you're going to have trouble. If he's 2 or 3 levels higher than you, you'll likely have the floor wiped with your face. In large part due to the fact that damage you do being limited on higher-level enemies. But I'll get into that more later.
The graphics are quite nice, with a cell-shaded style, giving the game a nice look. But the world as a whole seems a little bland, and while some of the last few areas are a little different, once you've seen the first area's arid desert style, you've pretty much seem them all. Of course, with Pandora being a wasteland, that's to be expected, but there was still the potential for more varying scenery. Even so, areas can be vast and the fact that they're all created randomly without looking like similar bit and pieces cobbled together differently, is very well done.
A modest selection of music ranging from peaceful and quiet to upbeat and fast-paced depending on the situation. Most of the time you won't even pay to much attention to it, and it's mostly forgettable. The only two that really stand out of the songs on the intro and credits, but only because they have lyrics. But at least it's not bad enough to take notice of it.
As stated, this game is very much an RPG played as an FPS. Your enemy level determines how much damage you do to them and vice-versa. Higher-levels taking little to no damage from you, while lower ones can be taken care of in one or two shots. And in typical modern RPG style, you're given missions of varying style. There's the usual array of go here and kill X' or Go here and find X'. All of them are fairly standard RPG missions, and are really just excuses for you to go places and kill things to gain levels. Character customisation is pretty limited, being only able to change the colour of your characters clothes. Although seeing as you never really see your character, this makes sense. And you've got the usual deal of equipable weapons and items. Although, don't believe the hype of the game having a bazillion guns', all it really means is guns with varying stats and element types. Your weapons selection is also fairly standard FPS fair; being pistols, shotguns, machine guns, etc. The game itself moves rather slowly, in part due the limits your current level allows, and the fact that you have to do a lot of side-missions to gain enough experience to move on. That's not to say the game is dull. By RPG standards, the game moves as a good speed, but by FPS standards it can be quite dull.
It took around 30 hours to reach the end boss on my first playthrough. And seeing as you get 4 different characters to play as, each with their own skill-set and style of gameplay, a 2nd playthrough mode where you start from the beginning with enemies being at higher levels, and the fact that areas are randomly generated, there's a lot of replay value to be had. And that's only talking about the single player campaign, as the multiplayer allows for co-op play and duels, giving the game very good potential for a long lifespan.
Final Score 8/10
So, there you have it. Borderlands is a very different game in many respects. If you go into it thinking it's a shooter, like Fallout 3, then you'll quickly learn the hard way that's it very much an RPG at heart. But if you go into it with the right mindset, there's a lot of fun to be had, both online and offline.
Buy or Rent?
Unless you can really bomb through the game, you'll likely need more than one rental session to really get the most out of this game, and so you might as well invest in your own copy. Of course, if you're not sure about the gameplay, and it is quite different, then a rental is definitely recommended. As I said, it's a very different game, and might not be to everyone's tastes.
And with that, I'm off.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/09/09
Game Release: Borderlands (EU, 10/30/09)
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