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Borderlands Review

publisher: 2K Games
developer: Gearbox Software
genre: Shooters

ESRB rating: M

release date: Oct 23, 09
» All About Borderlands on ActionTrip

Games evolved a lot since prominent hack'n'slash RPGs such as Diablo dominated the gaming scene and developers are now amalgamating genres in the hope of providing a more in-depth experience for gamers. With Borderlands, Gearbox Software, strives to do just that. The game is can be described as a first-person shooter with strong action RPG elements. Let's find out more, shall we.

Players are hurled into the brutal and desolate plains of a planet called Pandora (hardly a unique name, but I'll let it slide). A myth was born on this desolate world, describing a special hidden place referred to as the Vault. It is said that it holds riches and powerful alien technology beyond anybody's wildest dreams (Hm, I dunno, my dreams tend to be pretty wild sometimes - Ed.). Anyhow, this legend has been told for generations and has inspired many inhabitants of Pandora to become treasure hunters devoted to a never-ending quest to find the Vault. You are one of the four characters whose fate brings them closer to this legend.

Clearly enough, players choose between four characters classes, all of which possesses different passive skills and a single class-specific ability. So, you can step into the shoes of a bulky, extremely tough thug named Brick who gets all the benefits of the Berserker character class and that means pure strength and aggressive skills - mainly the "Berserker" skill that involves powerful melee attacks. Of course, he's also the ideal Tank, able to accumulate a lot of damage during combat. Apart from that he's also a weapons and explosives expert. Roland is a Soldier, proficient in wielding combat rifles and shotguns. This character deploys an upgradeable turret. Adding extra damage to enemies the turret heals nearby friendlies and, if upgraded, recharges ammo.

Mordecai is a Hunter, best at using long-ranged weaponry such as sniper rifles and, of course, revolvers and pistols. His chief skill is releasing the Bloodwing - a deadly bird that may be taught to take out multiple foes in one majestic sweep.

Finally, there's the Lilith - a "Siren" and the only female character. She uses an ability called "Phase Walk" that allows her to become invisible to opponents and get closer with increased speed. When she comes out of hiding, she triggers a potent shock-wave that boasts area effect damage and proves to be most handy in larger battle situations.

As you can probably tell, Borderlands was geared towards co-op gameplay, and let me tell you right now, that's arguably the best way to experience this game. You can opt to take on the main campaign alone, albeit there are so many aspects in co-op that make Borderlands an unforgettable experience, predominantly because of the cleverly incorporated class-based skills. The beauty part is that up to 4 players can enjoy the game together and although such sessions get extremely hectic, the gameplay becomes incredibly addictive. When playing cooperatively, one has to take into account the importance of loot. Everything that drops on the ground from dead enemies can be picked up by any player. Items and weapons not suited for your character class may be sold at nearby vending machines. Cash and experience points are equally distributed after completed quests, making the game worthwhile for each player who took part in a certain challenge.

Another extremely cool point in Borderlands is being able to continue your game even after finishing the last story-related quest. This gives players an opportunity to "clean-up" any quest areas they missed out on. In addition, you can replay the entire campaign using the same high-leveled character, in which case enemies in throughout Pandora will also be more powerful, befitting your current abilities and powers. Those components may not seem like much, but they do mean a lot when you're replaying the game or when you step in and out of matches with other gamers. Don't misunderstand. You won't finish Borderlands in a flash of an eye. Completing the campaign is harder and more challenging than you might think. The sheer amount of side-quests is commendable, while most of the tasks that continue the story simply cannot be attempted if you and your team haven't reached an appropriate character level. Yep, that's Gearbox, assertively throwing the "RPG" in "FPS." It's a great move and keeps you engaged for hours.

Borderlands has other welcomed gameplay elements related to dying. While dying may involve cash penalties, there are extenuating circumstances that make this a lot easier to bear. When shield and health readouts are completely depleted, your character is at death's door so to speak. The great thing is that you can make one last stand before dying, shooting at nearby enemies before time runs out. If you manage to kill any foes in this state, you are automatically revived and can immediately seek out a better spot to continue the battle. However, if times runs out and you didn't kill anyone, you are respawned at the nearest Borderlands outpost. It's not a perfect system, but from our experience it works pretty darn good, both in solo play and in co-op.

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8.7   Very Good

This first-person shooter offers memorable co-op moments on top of highly addictive and challenging RPG-style gameplay, great art and music, plenty of quests and a virtually endless amount of weapons;

Enemies get confused or just forget they have to attack and even ignore the fact that they're being fired upon, a few problems with the vehicle mechanics, frame-rate slows down severely in certain, larger, areas.


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