Legal stuff before I begin
THERE IS NO DLC OR ON-LINE MENTION IN THIS REVIEW AS I DON'T HAVE LIVE.
Any TL;DR post will result in a report.
Thanks to Google for providing the images.
Thanks to my eye infection for making me start this a while ago now, it has since cleared up.
There may also be random outbreaks of singing in the review. Just a warning.
ALSO, PLEASE DON'T POST IN MY REVIEWS THAT ARE OLDER THEN A MONTH. IF YOU WANT TO LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT THEM, PM ME WITH THE COMMENTS, PLEASE.
Borderlands. A game developed by Gearbox Software for multiple release on the PS3, X-Box 360 and PC respectively. Borderlands is an FPS RPG with more focus on the FPS then the RPG. It was released on the 23rd October in PAL countries and 20th October in North America. More recently, it was released in Japan on the 10th of February as well. But enough of the boring intro crap and onto more boring crap, the review proper.
Now, where do we start here? Story, game-play, music and sound, graphics or the little random stuff I've forgotten? Let's go with story first.
Introducing CL4P-TP or Clap Trap, your guide to the start of the game
Now, Borderlands has a pretty basic story to it and that story goes as thus. The game begins about 200 years after the planet of Pandora, which is the setting of the game and no relation to Avatar's Pandora, is colonized by humans as the planet has a lot of mineable material and minerals. However, upon arrival and settling, they soon discovered that there was nothing there except for a few alien ruins. Upon investigation of these ruins, they discovered a location called 'The Vault', which promises them riches they can never dream off. However, those who find The Vault are killed by an unknown force and as such, The Vault is forever known as a myth, nothing more then a story.
200 years later, a band of fortune hunters arrive. They are Mordecai the Hunter, Lilith The Siren, Roland the Solider and Brick as himself. These are your playable characters and shall be mentioned in more detail later. Now, you arrive on Pandora looking to find the Vault and enter it. At the start, you are introduced to the Guardian Angel who only you can see. She acts as your guide as well and pops up every so often to tell you stuff. The aim for the player is to find 3 keys to unlock the Vault, therefore letting you gaining the treasures inside it. As you progress through the story, you'll learn that not all is as it seems on Pandora and you will butt heads with the local bands of Raiders, the local wild-life that like nothing more then to rip your limbs off then play hockey with your skull and the Crimson Lance, a mercenary company that have been sent to Pandora to find the Vault and claim the Vault Keys and declare marital law over the planet. And that is all you shall get as I don't like handing out spoilers in my reviews.
So. The scarecrow didn't work then?
Now, while the story sounds good on paper, or your computer screen or whatever you read this from, it sort of takes a back seat to everything else. For me when I played through, I was aware a story was there but I was unaware as to where it actually was and at what point it was exactly. I found myself wondering around Pandora, asking myself why I was doing what I was doing, while blowing up random stuff and going 'D'aww' at the midget shot gunners. While this may not be a bad thing for players who like shooting stuff in the face with various boom-sticks, people looking for that and a story may be a little disappointed.
And now, ladies, gentleman and any adbots that can read, we move onto the game-play side of Borderlands. Notice the smooth transition then? You can't teach that.
So, the game-play of Borderlands is thus. Grab a gun, blow crap up. Done. Move on people. No, that's just grossly amateurish of me. Which I am. But I'll go into more detail. As I mention above, Borderlands is an FPS RPG with more focus on FPS than RPG. The player, that's you, in case you didn't know that takes their pick of characters from the available four I mentioned earlier who are Mordecai, Lilith, Rowland and Brick. Now, each of these characters have their own individual skills and weapon load-outs. Mordecai prefers snipers and revolvers, Lilith SMGs and elemental weapons, Rowland heavy machine guns and shotguns and Brick who likes to use his fists. However, you don't have to stick to the pre-given weapons load-outs due to a quite cool idea
which is weapon levelling.
From left to right: Rowland, Lilith Mordecai and Brick, the motley crew
The weapon levelling works like this. You use a specific type of weapon, like a shot-gun, sniper, SMG, whatever and you gain experience in that weapon class. The higher your level in that gun type, the better accuracy, damage or fire-rate is when you use those types of weapons. Sounds simple, right? Well, it is so that's that explained then. To compliment this, you have the character levelling up system, which goes as such. You kill enemies, you gain experience from these acts, which in turn helps you progress in levels all the way up to Lvl 50. However, on each level up, you are given the chance to distribute a shiny skill point. Depending on your selection of character, you can upgrade them so they can bypass shields with bullets, electrocute people with normal attacks or even gain back your ammo when in a gun fight. It's a pretty good system that doesn't make you think 'AHHH!! WHAT POINTS DO I PUT WHERE?!' and doesn't over-whelm the FPS nature of the game.
A screen showing you the worst course of action to do in appealing any wrath you get outside of the official means. You'll just get hammered again. Oh, and also showing you why head on attacks tend to fail in this game.
Still on game-play, yes I know it's dragging on a bit but keep up, it is important. The health system. An important part of any FPS. The old traditional FPS fare here, health goes down when shot, you use health packs to gain it back. Then you add shields to the mix. Now, the shields can be gotten from vendors that sell them, loot piles and downed enemies. What makes these shields different to others, is the perk you can get from them. This can be anything from a health re-gening shield to a shield that increase overall health. It's a nice feature that makes you consider what shield you take and put on.
Now, all of the above helps to keep the game away from "BANG BANG BANG!!!" which is a good thing in the current market of FPSes. However, the gun levelling system is a little bit off in the version I own. Using a shot-gun, I got a little message at the top of the screen telling me I had just levelled up my proficiency in sniper rifles. I'm not sure if this is a glitch or a way Gearbox tried to keep the gun levelling balanced but it just sort of made me think that was little half hearted and sloppy. It also takes a back seat to the gun fights, you never really notice any real difference, apart from seeing your character reload about one second faster then usual. Overall, the game play is solid and very good, but the additions of gun levelling just sort of takes a back seat and gets forgotten about 'til that little message pops up telling you that you just hit Lvl 37 in shot-gun proficiency while using an assault rifle.
I can't believe you shot that. Can I take its legs? I'm redecorating and they would make great lamps.
Now, let us move away from the game-play and onto the musical side of the game and how that sets the mood and what not.
Now, music in most FPSes tends to be a little...hmm, I think 'poor' is the correct word here. And in Borderlands, I am willing to report that the music is OK. The intro song, for example, is performed by Cage The Elephants and is one of the most catchy songs I have ever heard. It goes well with the intro to the game and sets the mood nicely. Below is the intro music.
I personally love this song. Almost to the point I know it off by heart. But that isn't important here. Unfortunately, it only plays in the intro and isn't heard again, which I think is a shame. However. through out the game, little bits of atmospheric music kick in for a short moment which raises the tension a bit and makes me, at the very least, a bit more jumpy.
Also, a little mention of the gun sounds and voice acting. The guns sound suitably meaty and not like some super duper death ray that God himself gave to Darth Vader and then told him to go nuts with. This is a good thing as all the guns actually sound like guns, not an over-powered Death Star. The voice acting is nicely done and had me chuckling at points at the accents. While the playable characters say little, when they do speak, they are nicely done. Apart from the death shouts. Which are terrible as they sound stretched out and sound like a cat has just jumped into their mouths. The supporting cast, however, are tip top and always good for a chuckle or two. Scooter, one of the many quest givers, has a super accent and some dialogue that will make you chuckle and this is the same with all the other supporting cast members, except the main bad guy who is the traditional "Do as I command or DIE!" like most bad guys biut voiced well, just without any funny lines.
Remember, it takes two to tango, three to have murder on the dance floor.
Now, a special mention goes out to the graphics, which are shown in the various screen-shots. They are very good, albeit with a few clipping issues. And by few I mean a lot. Too many times have I been running towards an enemy then suddenly stopped running. Nothing has hit me, nothing visible has blocked my path so why have I stopped? Upon looking down at the ground, I find a tiny pebble or ledge has stopped my progress forwards. Now, this may be a small, trivial thing but it happens way too often. Many ledges or things that we could step over are impassable for the character, forcing you to jump over it. Also, on one bad clipping disaster, I found myself being stopped by a wall. That was at least 5 feet away. It's not enough to ruin the game, it just gets annoying having to jump to bet past a small rock or ledge.
Now, the smaller things I have deemed important enough to get into the review, just not a full mention.
The item generating system. A nice addition that allows shot-guns that fire rockets, rockets that split into other rockets and split again, scopes to be attached to almost any weapon in the game and also allows you to have awesome shields that can regen health. It's a good addition, allowing you to have different guns on each play-through. Another addition to the guns is that some of them may have a chance to inflict certain elemental damage to your enemies. When you do find a gun with an Element, it has a 1x, 2x ,3x or 4x chance for that element to occur when fired. The Elements in question is Fire, Lightning, Explosive and Acid Corrosive. Now, along with causing extra damage, these can also cause a temporary damage effect where the enemy in question can take extra damage from the Element. All in all, the item generating system is a very good and neat addition and a stand out idea by Gearbox, even if it does seem to give you weapons that are either weaker then the ones you have or only just different to the ones you use.
I'll teach that bastard to take my parking space!
A quick mention of the OFF-LINE multi-player which is what this game is designed for. In the MP, you and a friend take your pick of characters, follow the main story and the same side quests while doing exactly the same thing. However. Due to there being 2 players instead of one, the game says to you "Aha, two of you, eh? Have some tougher enemies and poorer drops then, just to make your job a little harder." And it does get harder. More enemies get thrown at you, they become deadly accurate and they generally smarten up a bit more then in the SP, where they are generally quite clever and take cover and keep you pinned with moderate aggression. Whereas in the MP, they keep you pinned with ruthless aggression.
And now, onto my recommendation.
While it is a good single player game, many of you will get bored as it's quite lonely and depressing trudging around Pandora, alone, with nothing but a gun and some one liners to accompany you. While this isn't a bad thing, it can make the game feel boring and repetitive like most FPSes. To get the best out of Borderlands, you either need a mate sat next to you, playing along side, taking down enemies and dispensing their own one liners. Which me and my mates do a lot. All of them bad. Hey, look at my humour here, and then imagine that in one line form. So, it's a rental if you're going in for SP and unsure, a buy if you're looking for a good FPS to play by yourself and to help you tune out a bad day or just have a mindless blast for an hour and a must buy if you are looking for a well built, although in need of a polish here and there, FPS with a good co-op mode attached to it.
Again, thanks for reading, feedback is welcomed as is any questions you care to ask about the review and not my post count. Seriously, ignore the number people.