Review: Borderlands

Aug 4, 2011


Borderlands is a sick n’ twisted FPS/RPG set in the fictional world of Pandora, a bandit-ridden wasteland demanding only the strong survive. Borderlands is a great way to kill some time for those who like dungeon crawlers and shooters as the game world has light elements of open world play, lots of enemies and of course loot. You begin your adventure aboard an armored school bus headed for the dusty and backwater metropolis known as Firestone.

As far as progression in Borderlands, it can be as linear as you desire or relatively open-ended, especially after the introduction of several DLC modules. After experiencing the DLC, I was less impressed with most of them than I expected, however two were done fairly well providing challenge, treasure, reasonably coherent story elements and of course humor, something developers translated very well into gameplay. The Secret Armory of General Knoxx and the Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution are the expansions to pick up, unless you can find a bundled deal on Steam or PSN. Recently you could pick up Borderlands and all DLC with PS-Plus for $14.99 on the PSN, great deal.

As for gameplay it functions much like a simple shooter with easy to navigate controls. Combat was fairly rewarding as it really gave you a chance to play your play-style, not just from choosing which of the four classes you wanted to play but also with several choices of weapons and skills to augment the way you do business on Pandora. There is also a big part of combat called “Second Wind” which is a last ditch effort to kill enemies who caused you to move into a state called bleeding out, which is near death. If you manage to put someone down during this short phase, you get a burst of energy and a little bit of health and are very much back in the action. On top of that, if you experience Borderlands with a friend(s), which is the best way to play, you can resurrect your teammates by channeling a healing skill while next to them. So this makes battle tactics really fun as you can send the tank like character to take the heat, while your teammates pick off targets and help resurrect those who fall.

The loot in Borderlands is plentiful and randomly generated using a tool that is based on what level the characters are and how many players are in the game. For example if you are playing solo at level 9 versus having a few friends with you, the treasure will be better in general for the players looting objects in the game with more people. This is a great feature because it really encourages you to find people to play with for a well rounded experience and better loot. I do have several complaints about the loot system in Borderlands though. The tool used to randomly generate items is not an intelligent one. For example I found sniper rifles with no scopes, or automatic rifles with clip sizes less than 10 and at some points absolute garbage in areas that should have yielded better treasure. This was frustrating for me because it is a simple design flaw. The remedy is also simple; when the generator selects an assault rifle to drop, the magazine size should be greater than or equal to the minimum parameters for that item and those values should make common sense.

The second flaw I saw to the items in this game is the ability to modify guns or craft them initially using parts you find. You can’t! That sounds weird doesn’t it. A world where treasure hunters and adventurers plunder trash heaps and corpses in a Mad Max setting and no one can find parts for my gun? Where is the engineer? This would have completely made up for the previous blunder with a dumb loot generator.

The story in Borderlands is basically a hunt through Pandora to find the elusive and all powerful alien cache known as the vault. The beginning of the game shows you a little peek and eventually you get quests that shed a bit more light on the subject as well as some hands on experience. Borderlands is primarily about the loot and next you character progression and then combat, the story isn’t really an important part in the game.

In general the game was fun and should be experienced with friends if at all possible. Although I did not approve of the loot system at all, it did not ruin the experience for me. The humor was sadistic and twisted and for the setting, fit the game perfectly. Now that the game has been out a while and the prices are killer, this is a game to pick up and enjoy.

Purchase @ $30