Monday, January 28

Borderlands Review

The version played for review: PC
Available on: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
The price I paid: £9.99
Other Notes: N/A

Borderlands is a game with an almost single-minded obsession and that's the combat. Everything in the game is designed to somehow push you towards this or at the very least not get in the way of it.

Collectables, loot and rewards mostly come in the form of guns, shields and grenades of all sorts. You have your pistols, shotguns, snipers, machine guns, SMG's and so on. While each class of gun uses a certain type of ammo and has a certain way of firing every gun in this game feels unique. Some snipers will deliver a massive punch but only hold a few bullets in a clip. Others will hold plenty of shots per clip but do less damage with each one. Then you have elemental weapons that shoot fire, acid or electric bullets. Honestly finding the perfect set of weapons for you is difficult just due to the amount of variety and play styles open to you. The shooting itself feels simply amazing. Polished to a mirror shine with powerful sound effects, gory animations and spot-on controls that remind me of '90s era shooters. Fast but accurate. Then you have your shields that recharge after a while. Some will grant you extra health, others will explode when depleted and so on. Grenades also offer a vast amount of variety with some that bounce like crazy, some that stick to things and my favourites that teleport to their target. Honestly, this may just be the best combat of the 7th generation.

While this obsession does allow firefights to feel as good as they do it comes at the cost of interesting quests. In the name of simplicity, most quests are nothing more than go here, get this, come back. The challenge and gameplay come from dispatching the local bandits and wildlife between you and the thing you need to get to. Now, this isn't a fault as it's obversely intentional so you can focus on blowing holes into as many nasties as possible. Still, I wonder how great a deeper version of Borderlands could have been. Even one where tasks have more than one way to be resolved. Instead, we're left with a game that in terms of mission structure is very shallow. This is a shame because the world and lore in Borderlands are honestly amazing and I'd love to have seen it fleshed out more.

Borderlands is set on a planet known as Pandora. Legends speak of a vault hidden there by an alien race filled to the brim with a treasure of unending value. While most of the population think these tales are nothing more than myth plenty of Vault-Hunters come to Pandora in hopes of finding fortune. This is where you come in. You're hoping to find the vault. This story is very much a sci-fi western with a strong cyberpunk undertone. Massive corporations horde wealth and power. Technology such as the New-U stations make even death something these companies can control. If you fork over a percentage of your wealth then you will be brought back to life upon death. Meanwhile, the surface population of Pandora is constantly under attack from bandits and vicious wildlife. Insanity, poverty, starvation and violence are common as people try to amass any wealth they can in hopes of making it out of their desperate situations. Greed is Pandora's driving force. I love this world and the history of it. This is why I would love to see it fleshed out more but sadly Borderlands pushes a lot of this content to the side in order to let you get back to shooting things.

Ultimately Borderlands biggest strength is also its biggest weakness. It's so focused on the combat, namely the shooting that story, exploration and everything else it could have done suffers. I can play games like Breath of the Wild, New Vegas and other similar games for hours and hours at a time. I can't do this with Borderlands because after a few quests I get bored of the repetitive and simplistic objectives. On the plus side, the combat is some of the best in gaming. The variety to both your arsenal and the things you will be taking on is great allowing for almost any combat style. Sadly this just isn't enough to let Borderlands become anything more than mediocre. I like it, but I also find it boring at times. So ya 7 out of 10. Worth playing but it's not gonna blow you away.

Recommendation Rating: 7 out of 10.

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