Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Date of North American Release: 10/21/2009
Date of European Release: 10/23/2009
Borderlands is set in a distant future on a planet named Pandora. On Pandora there is a vault left behind by an unknown alien force said to contain un-named amounts of power and wealth. This is the fulcrum of there player's involvement, and while this story doesn't sound very exciting or engaging... its the atmosphere, style, and gameplay that will keep you playing, not to mention the bazillion guns
The gameplay of it is pretty simple. It is essentially a "Team Fortress"-type first person shooter with some RPG elements which allow your some customization of your class. The classes are as follows:
Soldier - A combination medic/support class. Your class power allows you to lay down an automated turret, and you have access to abilities which allow you to increase your damage, regenerate ammo or health around your turret, and even revive your teammates by shooting them.
Sniper - Your heavy DD. Your class ability releases your hawk, which does massive amounts of damage to a target. Your class structure contains perks to significantly increase your damage, accuracy, loot, and allows your bird to attack multiple targets.
Siren - The assassin/mage class. This is the "wild-card", if you could look at one in this game. What you can do with her varies greatly depending on your tree - anything from dealing ridiculous damage with different ammo types to being able to stay stealthed for significant amounts of time.
Brick - Your tank. Self explanatory. His tree is based around his continued survival. There are other trees which boost your ability damage and your damage with explosives.
Other than your class customization the gameplay itself is very simple. You shoot stuff, and it dies. There isn't alot of "greater purpose" to anything, and it is pretty one dimensional. The other strong draw, though, that will keep many players is the head-spinning amount of guns available in the game. When an enemy dies it can drop a weapon, and there are certain levels of rarity and quality, but the stats on a gun are basically randomly generated. This could be simple things such as quicker reload times or higher damage to firing explosive bullets and lightning.
It's a truly original spin on what many would see as a traditional class-based shooter. The result is a game you will find yourself getting lost in for hours.
There really isn't alot to say about the Singleplayer game - it's built like an open-world FPS. You take missions from various NPCs on various maps, complete them, and are rewarded. The missions themselves are pretty straightforward: most are about killing a boss or a certain number of enemies or retrieving a special item. There's nothing too new here.
The story is nothing new either, despite the setting of Pandora and the gameplay's originality. It's a typical "you are the chosen one" route and you have to open/retrieve the item/person - in this case, opening the aforementioned vault.
After reading this, you might think the Singleplayer just sucks, but it doesn't. It is strangely compelling because while it isn't anything original, it is extremely well executed and fun. You will find yourself playing for hours just to explore Pandora, mess around with your class, and get new weapons.
Like many FPSs, this is the bread and butter of Borderlands. The game is built around 4-player Co-op, but with its own unique twist. This time the host's open world environment is the backdrop for all the going-ons, such as what point in the story the team of 4 is at, what you have access to, and what level the monsters are. The best part is larger parties means increased enemy difficulty and increased loot quality.
And a nice thing is the game isn't restrictive, you can play quests you have already completed with a friend, just as long as they haven't completed them.
There are definitely some throw-aways in multiplayer, though. The duels and arenas are clear after-thoughts for the losers who can't live without competitive multiplayer in FPSs. Problem is, they keep the same balance but don't add any skill or strategy, so the person with better gear/higher level will ALWAYS win with very few exceptions. Its a disappointment, and feels as though it shouldn't be there.
Overall, much like the singleplayer, there isn't alot to say. Its not complicated and the depth of the mode comes from the gameplay... It is definitely fun though.
This is the other area Borderlands shines. Performance wise, Borderlands is solid. There aren't any noticeable frame-rate dips - I did experience the occasional hiccup, but they were so sparse and so short I would find it hard to believe any rational person taking issue with it.
Style, though, is something Borderlands has in spades. The visuals are crisp and engaging, and are a great example of cel-shading being used properly, almost to the point of necessity. This is a game that would have just not worked with the realistic visual style of Call of Duty or Half-Life. It needed something different, almost silly, to go along with the gameplay. The result is something distinct; something with identity and almost a bit of satire.
- The class-based "RPS" formula is unique and works wonderfully
- Nothing particularly original, but it is very well executed and fun.
- Co-op is perfect, competitive portions are a joke.
- Borderlands is full of style and identity, Gearbox did a phenomenal job.
Borderlands is a masterpiece in the vein of the FPS genre. It isn't something that will find alot of draw to people who already don't like the genre, but for FPS fans, you will find one of the deepest and most stylish gameplay experiences the genre has to offer.