Friday, October 30, 2009

Borderlands Review


Genre: First Person Shooter, Role Playing
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Release Date: 10/20/2009
System: Xbox 360, Playstation 3

Borderlands is a role-playing shooter, a game similar to the Fallout series. The story is simple: you are a bounty hunter on a distant planet known as Pandora, in search of The Vault. What is The Vault, you ask? It is the mythical place filled with treasure, alien technology, and whatever else you desire. But between the bandits and the massive amount of creatures on the planet Pandora, getting there is far from simple. You start out with a choice of four characters to play with, each character with their own specific class (Hunter, Soldier, Berserker, and Siren) and unique abilities. Once your character is chosen, you receive a message from the Guardian Angel, a being who tells you that The Vault is, in fact, a real place and only she can lead you there. Once you disembark on your first town, Fyrestone, you are greeted by a robot known as Claptrap, which will be your guide to the town. Not to mention that the rogue inhabitants of Fyrestone gives you a lethal greeting as well.

What happens after that? You have to play to find out. But on with the review…

Borderlands is a stunning game as a whole, showing that the people at Gearbox really did their homework. The controls of the game are simple and easy to adapt to, allowing people to jump in the game quickly without much confusion. The game’s art style is what stands out about this game, having a hand-drawn style that suits this game perfectly. There’s a bit of loading time, but if it’s installed to the hard drive, then it’s nothing to worry about. The actual game play is where Borderlands shine. For starters, this game is filled with a lot of guns, the total count being over 17 million. Ranging from pistols, shotguns, SMGs (Sub-Machine Guns), and sniper rifles, you’re guaranteed not to run into the same type of gun in game play. And as you level up in the game, you find more unique guns, such as RPG-firing shotguns, SMGs firing lightning rounds and much more. The quests/missions in the game are another selling point. There are a large amount of quests in the game, the bulk of it being side-quests and player challenges. So unless you’re trying to speed-run the entire game, you’ll be spending your time completing the side-quests.

Game play also differs depending on what class you choose. Each class – Hunter, Soldier, Berserker, and Siren – has its own unique skill and weapon proficiency (I.e.: the hunter works best with revolvers and sniper rifles, the soldier works well with shotguns and rifles). After you level your character up to LVL 5, you’re awarded with a skill point that’s automatically given to your unique skill. Your skill has its own skill trees, which gives upgrades the character’s proficiency and unique skills. Sadly, you receive your last skill point at LVL 50. But by then, you’ll already have crafted your character into a deadly weapon against the dangers of Pandora. And hey, if you don’t like how you set your character’s skill points, you can always reset them. It may cost a little money, but the points will still be there for character building.

The game’s enemy AI is a down point in the game. To put it simply, the AI is predictable at times. After a few encounters, you’ll be able to tell how an enemy will attack you and by then it’ll probably be dead. It’s a small blemish in the game, something that’s obvious even though it’s covered up by the massive amount of guns. Humanoid enemies will shoot and occasionally take cover when you shoot and the beasts in the game will run/crawl/fly towards you and melee you to death. Even higher level enemies follow the same pattern and if it weren’t for the fact that they take very little damage from your attacks (literally, if you’re at LVL 22 and you are facing a LVL 24 monster, you do no real damage on it), it’d be a major flaw in the game.

Online play is also a noteworthy aspect in Borderlands. Up to 4 people can play in Borderlands and the difficulty – or the amount of monsters - vastly increases with each player. And with the more enemies that appear, the more loot that dropped. If a player drops out of the game, the enemies are downscaled so that players won’t be utterly overwhelmed by the opposition. Players can challenge each other in a “Duel” by meleeing each other. Once the melee attack is returned, a dome appears over both contenders and it’s time for them to fight to the death. Also littered throughout Pandora are arenas where players can face off in either Free-For-All or 2vs2 matches, just in case playing the story isn’t enough.

There are very few negative points that I have with this game. Besides the AI, the online play should have came with a trading feature where players are able to trade weapons, health packs, and other items in the game. The story is another downer; there are parts in the story that are unexplained, leaving you a bit confused if you’re focusing on the story. On the other hand, the developers stated that some of the gaps will be explained via DLC that’ll be released this year. Also, customizing the character’s appearance is another down point to me. The character’s appearance is set but you’re allowed to change the colors. If you were allowed to change your character’s clothes and it were integrated in the story…*sighs* the possibilities are endless.

Overall, Borderlands is a solid game. It truly combines the best of shooting games without the parts we hate and integrates them perfectly with role-playing aspects. The AI and unexplained parts in the story are the only negatives in this game, but it is arguably a game worth its asking price. I mean, a ton of guns at your disposal, a ton of mayhem, and the ability to build your character’s skill up? You can’t ask for much more than this.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5

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