Review by Behelit42

"Mad Max mixed with Heavy Metal Magazine mixed with FPS mixed with RPG..."

Introduction -
Borderlands is a first person shooter game with heavy rpg elements. The game takes place on run down and almost completely abandoned mining planet called Pandora. After the mineral deposits were used up, the corporations just packed up and left, leaving the remaining workers to fend for themselves. Since a majority of the workforce for those mining operations were convicts, they were now free to cause widespread panic and terror. There is one thing about Pandora that attracts treasure hunters, the legendary Vault. It's said the vault contains limitless alien technology and wealth, justified by having another alien vault found on a neighboring planet. When you start the game, you pick one of 4 vault hunters that will explore Pandora looking for clues leading to its location. From there, you have the choice of either going through the game alone, or with friends in co-op mode.

Gameplay - 9
This game provides single player and multi-player co-op modes, allowing you to play the game solo or with a group of friends. Game progression works by finding / completing missions and leveling up, not unlike many popular rpg and mmorpgs out there. At the start of the game you are given a HUD that provides health, weapons, and shield status. You can also check the map and obtain new skills with this device. Playing the game solo can be fun, but where this game really shines is when you are playing with 1-3 friends. Team play adds a whole new element that makes the gameplay more dynamic and entertaining. The more players you have in your party, the more powerful and aggressive the mobs you encounter will be. Harder monsters = better item drops, so the best items are generally found in multi-player matches. The game even has a good system of matching up players who are in a certain level range or trying to finish a mission. And there are plenty of weapons to be found, over 17 million combinations due to a procedural weapon generation system the game uses. The only flaw with co-op mode is the poor chat interface, messages are flashed up for a few seconds with no way to review the history. If you play on Steam, you can get around this, but it can be annoying. As others have said, the AI is a little stupid. But what they lack in intelligence, they make up for in numbers and brute force. Other then that, the gameplay is top notch in co-op mode and very good in single player mode.

Story - 8
Personally, I really liked the story, but I will admit it was lacking in body. It is similar to Mad Max and post apocalyptic stories I've read in Heavy Metal magazines. The highly detailed comic book art style, thus, it's very fitting for this game. When you start the game, there is a really good intro giving you a rough overview of the world you are in and what you will be dealing with. After that, the missions provide the basis for continuous story and NPC dialog, each one giving you little snippets of information about the world of Pandora and the Vault. When you run into a significant boss or NPC, there will be a brief cinematic ending with them in a dramatic pose. Other then that, most of the game revolves around running, driving, shooting stuff, finding way-points, completing missions, looting weapon chests, selling surplus loot, and improving your character's shields/weapons/skills; rinse and repeat. This can become a tedious and boring in single player mode, but in co-op mode it's actually a lot of fun. The game also goes a lot faster in co-op mode, making the somewhat sparse storyline much less noticeable. Overall, the story and pacing is pretty good in single player and better in co-op.

Graphics and Sound - 10
I thought the graphics were amazing in this game. The barren, abandoned landscape of a once thriving mining planet is extremely well emulated by the hand drawn textures. Monsters are well animated and have a very life like quality to them. NPCs and human players/enemies are extremely well done, each one getting the attention of a comic book cover. The extremely vast and detailed landscape really makes you feel like you are there, with details going far off into the distance. There are towns, caves, open plains, junkyards, abandon factories, a snow covered northern region, arenas, secret hideouts and ruins to explore, all of them highly detailed. Sound effects in this game are top notch, with each weapon giving appropriate sounds that you would expect from such weapons. The voice acting is excellent, even going so far as to hire well known anime voice actors for the job. And the music for the game is amazing, very atmospheric and fluid, changing to match the situation. Overall I would say the graphics and sound are excellent for this game in all respects.

Play Time/Replayability - 9
It took me about 30 hours to beat the first run playing with a friend. Playtimes might very from 20-40 hours to beat the first run, depending on if you like to explore every nook and cranny, or simply rush through the game. However, the fun doesn't stop there. After you beat the game the first time around, you can continue by playing through the game again at a harder challenge level. You keep all your gear, skills, and level. Enemies the second time around are MUCH harder, faster, and smarter. Many of them employ super attacks not seen the first time around. I've just started playing the second run, but I've heard there is also a 3rd run after you complete that! So, if you played all 3 runs, you are probably looking at 60-100 hours with one character. And since the game has 4 character classes you can play, each with their own unique skill trees, that's 240-400 hours worth of gameplay!! And as if that wasn't enough, the game has 4 expansion packs that add new story and content. And on top of all that, there are player vs player modes that allow you to participate in 1vs1, 2vs2, and 1vs3 combat. Throw in the millions of randomly generated weapons, mobs, and loot.. and you have a game with over 500 hours of potential gameplay. Overall the Play Time / Replayability is quite good, giving the player a wide variety of replay and expansion options.

Final Recommendation - 9
This game is a excellent title to have in your collection. It's unique style really sets it apart from modern first person shooter and rpg games alike. This is a great game for playing with small groups of friends and being able to continue solo if they aren't around. I would highly recommend this game to FPS fans who also love RPG games and vise versa. I would also highly recommend this game to people looking for a good online co-op game to play with friends. Overall I think this is a solid title and well worth the purchase. For people on consoles, you might as well buy, unless you just want to power through the first run and that's it.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/08/10

Game Release: Borderlands (US, 10/26/09)

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