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Borderlands is a perfect multiplayer RPG-Shooter that offers loot hounds hours of fun. It has its flaws, though, and its grinding sensibilities probably won't appeal to everyone.
- The co-op experience is one of the best on the market
- The countless loot scattered through the world
- The striking, artistic visual quality
- The repetitive quests
- The lack of a strong storyline
- Glitches that got us stuck in awkward situations
The ever-growing first-person shooter and role-playing game crossover genre has received its latest addition with the release of Gearbox Software’s Borderlands. Set in Pandora, which has an old West style theme, you and three friends can set out on an epic adventure to do two things: kill lots of bad guys, and collect tons of loot. With a unique comic book style art theme, 100s of quests, and the promise of “bazillions of guns,” Borderlands sets out to offer a new take on the modern RPG shooter genre. While many people will rank this game as one of the best of the year, it’s not as universally accessible as other entries in the genre, and it has some flaws that at the least were minor annoyances, but at the worst, were enough to deter our enjoyment significantly enough to have us want to shut the game off for a few hours.
The most rewarding aspect of Borderlands is the cooperative play, both online (up to four players) or locally with a split screen option. It’s a welcome addition for any RPG fans looking to play through some quests with a small group of friends. You’ll find plenty to do so long as everyone is within 10 levels of one another, though if a friend has fallen behind in the levelling process, the enemies will either be too hard for them to defeat, or too easy for your more advanced friends. Fortunately, this isn’t a problem because there are plenty of ways to gain experience and level your character, though we’ll come back to the multiplayer component in a bit.
At the start of the game you’ll get to choose from one of four characters. Each of the characters has a unique ability in addition to a skill tree that you can pump points into as you level up. As you can imagine, different characters are better suited for different weapons, and as such you’ll find each character has weapon specializations. The soldier, named Roland, is a brute and has the ability to drop turrets that automatically fire at nearby enemies. The hunter, Mordecai, gets a hawk named Bloodwing, which can swoop down and attack foes. Lilith is a siren and works heavy in a magical field, entering different planes to damage enemies or gain a quick speed boost. The last character you can pick is Brick the berserker. As the name implies, he’s a beast and uses melee combat to his advantage. It should be noted that any character can use any weapon, but each character will get a boost depending on his or her weapon specialization. Once you pick your character you can customize him or her to your liking through basic color template changes. While some RPGs have a greater focus on character customization, Borderlands doesn’t offer a great deal of variety for your character. We weren’t bothered that Borderlands lacked deeper character customization because there was so much you can do to alter your weapons and shields.
Speaking of weapons, the world of Borderlands is covered in guns. While there may not actually be “bazillions of guns,” there is enough loot to keep even the biggest treasure hunters happy. Most of the guns are randomly generated but some you are certainly intended to receive. You’ll find guns in all shapes and sizes dropped throughout the world, or you can purchase them (along with shields and med kits) at vending machines. The RPG element again returns when looking at guns. You’ll find gun stats like speed, base damage, accuracy, and clip size; along with modifiers, stat bonuses, elemental damage, zoom, and increased reload speed. As mentioned before, each character has different gun specializations. You’ll find weapons that fit into different categories: pistols, sniper rifles, sub-machine guns, shotguns, assault rifles, and even rocket launchers.
The armor system in Borderlands works on a regenerating shield basis. You can buy or find upgradable shields. Having the shields regenerate means your gun battles will last a long time if you know how to duck and cover. Better shields regenerate faster, and some will even heal you over time. If you need to heal, you’ll have to use various items or abilities - don’t expect to sit back and watch your health slowly regenerate over ... (continued on next page)