Welcome to Pandora, a world full of bandits, skags, vehicles, giant monsters, and plenty of loot. You will learn very quickly during your time in Pandora that there is much to gather and it is actually what you will spend most of your time doing while you are here. Whether you run across a stash of money or a chest full of guns, at no time will you ever be short of things to sell at your local vendor. With millions of weapons to choose from and stat modifications coming at you from your left and right, you will have plenty to brag about with your friends, and brag you will! At any point during your journey you can choose to invite a few friends in and start blasting away at an encampment of enemies, or trade with each other in order to get that perfect weapon that you just haven’t run across yet. Borderlands is an RPG/Shooter, or a “Shooter-Looter” as some call it. It also offers hours of gameplay, and you can easily catch yourself scavenging the wasteland for weapons and shields instead of getting your missions finished.
Borderlands is a shooter, but it is also an RPG. Through the game you will be faced with many adversaries that you can kill for experience and many missions that will also give you experience in turn for their completion. As you gain experience, you gain levels and in turn you gain skill points that you can use to add special abilities to your character. These are known as RPG elements, and this is what Borderlands brings to the table. Unlike Fallout 3, when you shoot at an enemy with any of your guns, as long as you are aiming directly at them, then you will not miss no matter what level you are. The shooter elements are still present in the game and they are based on your skill as a shooter.
The key point of this game is its multiplayer experience. The game seems to have been specifically designed for a four-player adventure, but it doesn’t discourage you from playing by yourself. As you play with more people, your enemies get stronger and in turn you can be sure to get better loot which you can take back to your own single player game. Many of the skills that you will use from leveling up your character are party skills that can be used to aid the members of your team. Some skills allow you to heal your teammates by shooting them, or regenerate ammo by standing next to a soldier’s turret. Needless to say this game is very multiplayer friendly.
The game concept is great, but it is lacking in an in-depth story line. For most people that is alright, and I didn’t mind it that much myself, but others may be a little disappointed. The main storyline consists of gathering up pieces of a key to unlock a rumored vault, but that’s about the extent of it. While there are plenty of missions that help add to the storyline, they can get quite repetitive and usually consist of killing a certain number of enemies, finding pieces to a weapon, and collecting other various items. These quests are usually placed in areas where a high volume of enemies are in order to give you additional chances to loot and gain experience. One of my favorite parts of the entire game is the boss battles that are scattered throughout the game. At many times throughout the mainline story you will have to face “end-of-level” bosses and mini-bosses that provide quite difficult challenges. It is not uncommon to find yourself dying and respawning during the middle of a boss battle. Let’s also not forget to mention the insane amount of money you will have to pay out every time you die. While it’s not very hard to gain money, you really don’t use it for much else than paying a fee to be revived and you can even get caught in a cycle of that.
The game is great and definitely one of the best this year. There are negatives to the game, but they are few and far between and aren’t worth causing you to overlook this game. The art style and direction is very fun and playful, and the game style fits that of a hardcore gamer. Gearbox has also done a great job of blending a shooter and an RPG together to make a game that can find its place in the heart of both types of gamers. The leveling system runs smooth and you don’t have to spend hours “grinding” to gain a higher level as you do in a lot of RPGs. The replayability is high, and you will find yourself wanting to start a second playthrough with your character. Pick up this game if you get the chance, and enjoy your time in Pandora.