Borderlands Reader Review
Borderlands is awesome. I could actually end the quick review there.
Unfortunately for you I will not. You must read on! So Borderlands is the story about a desolate desert world (think Tatooine in Star Wars Episode III before George Lucas added all that rubbish in Episode I) and you play a ‘vault hunter’ or to put into today’s lingo, a treasure hunter. The idea is that there is a legend about a hidden cache of treasure, possibly of alien origins and you are there to stake your claim.
You start off by selecting the player you wish to be, there are four to choose from, and each have a special move/ability. My current playthrough is using a hunter and I get a lovely bird called bloodwing that I can dispatch every 28 seconds to gore my enemies. Each ‘class’ also has a talent tree that will enchance their special ability or your general skills, i.e reloading faster, more damage with certain weapons etc.
The game is clearly a light-hearted version of Fallout 3 without the drama and the quantity of dialogue. References to current fads are numerous and cleverly done (I particularly enjoyed the first time I got a ‘boom’ uttered upon getting a critical headshot with the sniper). The NPCs are just as humorous with the little claptrap’s human beatbox routine sitting in my brain until I couldn’t resist and had to perform it in the shower and then again whilst failing to put on trousers for work. “mmsh mmsh mmsh Check it out! mmsh mmsh mmsh. Look at me, I’m dancing!! mmsh mmsh mmsh”. Brilliant.
Graphics are amazing and to date any screenshots I’ve seen don’t really do it justice until you see the thing in action. The quirky take on 3D cartoon adds to the enjoyment and summarises the “hey this might be a desolate hell hole akin to Mad Max, but it doesn’t have to be depressing!” attitude of the game.
Gameplay is easy and any FPS’er will easily settle into their strides. I particularly enjoyed a very Modern Warfare 2 moment when I was sprinting at an enemy with the rifle firing then a quick slice of the melee blade finishing them off as I reached them and ran out of bullets in my clip. Awesome. Even better is the fact you can go through as co-op with up to 3 others, an great addition and one I cannot wait to start working with friends on.
Travel was a bit of a bug-bear with Fallout 3, it had fast travel but a lot of time was spent just walking and that got old fast. Luckily in Borderlands you are furnished with a vehicle very early on and reading the mind of this reviewer your firsts tasks are to jump a massive gorge and run down a few baddies. Brilliant. Again, all just-for-laughs silliness and it really appeals to that inner-kid. Further on after that you then get access to the Fallout 3 style ‘fast travel’ which lets you revisit any previously visited ‘hotspot’. The car and the fast travel really help keep the pace together and ultimately makes the experience a whole lot better for me.
Levelling. I mentioned earlier you get a talent tree – it has three specialisations for each class and as far as I know you won’t be able to max everything when you hit level cap (think WoW). Similar to most RPGs the areas are based on level and the mobs contained within them so attempting a level 15 quest at level 10 is effectively suicide. Having said that, if like me you like to do all quests then you will find there is no grinding required and the XP rewards are plenty to keep you ticking over at the right pace to get from area to area.
Overall this game was an extremely pleasant surprise. I was very worried I’d be getting a Fallout 3 clone but in comic graphics form as it turns out the two couldn’t be more different. I love Fallout 3 and shall return to it for it has its gritty realistic post-apocalyptic charms, however for the moment Borderlands is my desolate world of choice.