Saturday, 31 December 2011

Borderlands Guest Review

This review was written by Azeebo.

Borderlands is certainly an ambitious game, mixing both the dungeon crawling frantic loot collection of the Diablo series with the vast open wasteland of the fallout series. Add to this tunning environments and multilayer modes and you have a game that might just be worth your pennies.

Borderlands is set in the Wasteland, a desolate desert landscape full of nefarious bandits, monsters (both small and large) and hilarious civilians. Your goal is to find the Vault, an age old container of great secrets and loot...or so you have been told. It may just be a hoax. When you boot up the game you are met with 4 characters: Roland, a former soldier of a large military group the Crimson Lances, Lilith, the Siren, a phase walker able to fight invisibly and move at incredible speeds, Mordecai, a hunter who uses a bird of prey to aid him in his fights and last but not least Brick, a berserker who quite literally goes berserk and beasts things to death with his monstrous fists. The cast all have weapon specialties and unique looks however this is the first issue with the game, you have 4 seemingly unique characters, but since everyone of them can use the same weapons with no restrictions you soon find that there are only their special abilities that differ between them...and even then, its not enough to warrant second play through with different characters. 

Upon entering the Wasteland you perform various deeds for local which are usually found on Bounty Boards. These bounty boards are updated regularly and often supply you with cash, munitions or weapons to aid you in your overall mission of finding the Vault. It can feel like a bit of a grind as many of the missions are just rehashed from previous missions, and nearly all of them are: Go here and kill/fetch that quests. Despite this, it does add to the play time significantly if you go out of your way to complete them. 

One of the first things you notice when adventuring the vault is the sheer number of different weapons. They range from pistols, revolvers, automatic pistols, machine guns, SMG's, grenade and rocket launchers, shot guns or varying types, sniper rifles etc, on top of that each weapon has a stat line and various bonuses where it be elemental or something more passive. This is one of its greatest strengths and its greatest weakness. You will constantly be finding new and improved weaponry and discarding old weapons. You will rarely have the same weapon load out for more than about 30 minutes before you find something better. Unfortunately, with the many millions (if not more) of weapons scattered throughout the wastes, it is a shame they all look very similar with only slight cosmetic differences to differentiate them...if that.

Story wise the game is very weak, there is next to none to speak of. You will occasionally get stalked by some virtual woman trying to tell what to do next and thats about as much as you get. You enter the waste land, your goal is to find the vault, heres a gun off you go. Borderlands in a sentence. 

Story aside, the game play is very strong, as aforementioned, loot is the big draw to this game. Loot is everywhere and you treasure lovers out there will have a blast searching for secret stashes of loot, finding the next best thing etc. The loot driven game play is extremely addictive and when added to the light RPG elements you get a very enjoyable gaming experience. Leveling up is kept simple, kill enemies, complete quests level up, buy new skills to become stronger and repeat. Simple but effective and you will quickly find yourself gripped with Borderlands fever. 

Graphically this game is beautiful. The cell shaded world is jaw droopingly well designed with detail bursting out of every corner of the world. The art design is top notch with character models looking the bee's knees and the enemies looking particularly vicious. The variety of foes you face is quite refreshing, there is a bit of copy, paste and recolor going on however you fight everything from giant, muscle bound bandits, to tiny suicide bombing midgets to elite heavily armored soldiers. Unfortunately for all the graphical niceties you will require a hefty rig to max this game out.

Sound design is just as strong as the visual draw, it has great music and solid voice acting. Add to this the great sense of humor the game has and you have stumbled upon a winner. 

Multi player is where the game shines brightest. You can play then entire game Co-op with randomers online or with friends and when you do so all the shallow game play elements in the single player seem to vanish as enemies become stronger, loot becomes better and fun becomes even better. 

There is no denying Borderlands is a fantastic romp through the desert and Borderlands Fever will hit you hard at first. But once you get past all of it you are still left with a very shallow game. Luckily, you should remain enthralled in the experience for hours on end since the single player is very lengthy, add to this the DLC (most of which is top notch and varied) and multi player and you have a winner. 


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