Heralded as the next step in the evolution of the Role Playing Shooter, Borderlands was one of the most hotly anticipated games of 2009. Developers 2K Games (creators of such golden gaming nuggets as the Civilization series, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Bioshock) have struck gold once more! But what is it that makes Borderlands so great? Well it’s all, as they say, in the details.
The plot is a simple classic; a group of young treasure-hunters come to a desert planet named Pandora in search of something called ‘The Vault’, an ancient stockpile of alien technology. Unfortunately, the planet turns out not to be so deserted as you’d have thought with all manner of nasty beasties crawling around just waiting to snack upon any hapless adventurers that come their way. And if a violent wildlife wasn’t enough, raiders and bandits are never far away and more than happy to blow your measly brains out for a quick buck. There are 4 classes to choose from at the start of the game, with different specializations. Mordecai, the Hunter, is basically a Sniper and provides his Bloodwing bird pet, who can take out enemies for you. Lilith, the Siren, is a variation of a Scout who specializes in elemental damage and can Phasewalk, moving at high speed and doing AoE damage. Roland, the Soldier, provides a deployable turret for fire support and healing, and Brick, the Heavy, who specializes in heavy weapons and provides his fists.
By now most of you will have seen the trailers on TV or Youtube. They make some bold claims, not least of which that the game contains ’87 Bazillion guns’. And while that was obviously a massive overstatement, their sentiment wasn’t at all wrong. There’s several different types of gun; repeating pistols, revolvers, smgs, assault rifles, heavy machine guns, sniper rifles, shotguns, rocket launchers and ‘alien’ guns. Depending on which of the classes you picked at the start you’ll likely specialize in one or two of these types, but it is possible to become adept in all of them with time. What guns you use will also be highly dependent on your talent specialization, a system very similar to that deployed in World of Warcraft in which every time you level up you gain a skill point you can put into a talent tree and gain certain bonuses. For example, Mordecai’s talents allow him to specialize in either sniping, gunslinging with a revolver or repeating pistol, or going ‘rogue’ and focusing on the training of his Bloodwing.
The game is designed with multiplayer in mind, but I’ve played both 1 player and 4 player and the game scales the difficulty quite nicely such that it works well in both. The funky cell-shaded graphics work surprisingly well, and the MMORPG-style quest system somehow manages to keep all the originality while cutting out a significant portion of the annoying grind that accompanies most MMORPGS. All in all, the game does exactly what it says on the tin. The Rpg aspects are sufficiently subtle as not to get in the way of the Fps aspects but at the same time there in enough force to make a significant difference if you aren’t paying attention to it. I’d call it the smart person’s shooter. If all you want to do is shoot people, go pick up Modern Warfare 2. But if you want an entertaining experience that will almost undoubtedly be very different each time you play it, Borderlands is exactly the game for you. You can pick up borderlands on Steam for a very cheap price.