Frankenreview: Borderlands

It's a first-person shooter! It's an RPG! What the hell is it!? It's Borderlands. So how is it?

A ragtag quartet of adventurers wander across the surface of the planet Pandora, searching for the Vault of legend. Along the way they shoot things, gain levels, and gather enough weapons to choke something large that eats weapons, thanks to Gearbox's random content generation. Things to shoot and things to loot. What more could a group of players ask for?

For the answer to that question and more, we turn to the assembled game critics.

Games Radar Borderlands lacks the charm of Fallout 3, Mass Effect, or Half-Life 2, but it does offer a crap-ton of ‘roided-out bandits, effed-up dog things, giant spider demons, and screeching pterodactyl beasts to shoot with a crap-ton of guns. And that's really what it's about – finding weapons and shooting things with them. You have to assign a skill point now and then, and there's kind of a story, but those things don't matter much. You can skip the text description of every quest in the game, because they will always consist of the following steps:

A. Go somewhere. B. Kill some shit. C. Flip a switch or something. D. Kill some more shit. E. Success!

1UP A more traditional description for Borderland would be, "cooperative FPS with Diablo-esque mechanics." You start off by picking a character: Roland the gun-toting soldier, Lilith the stealth/magic femme, Mordecai the sniper, and Brick the boxer/tank. Then you guide that character through a grand journey with multiple quest hubs and dungeons; most of the quests are of the simple "go to a dungeon and kill/collect x amount of y." My first playthrough, where I mostly focused on going down the critical path with a little bit of (but not nearly all) of sidequesting, took about 27 hours. By the way, the overarching story of "finding the secret Vault while guided by a mysterious woman who talks to you in your mind" is just serviceable; it's there to give you a reason to kill things, but don't expect anything more in-depth.

Official Xbox Magazine Just make no mistake: Borderlands is a hardcore-gamer's game. It won't be fun to those dudes whose two major purchases this year were Transformers and Madden 10. For starters, there's no difficulty setting whatsoever, so when you're getting pummeled - and you will get pummeled - you can't bop down to Easy and race ahead through the story missions. That thrashing you're getting is Borderlands' way of telling you to take your time and properly level your character. Side quests are usually optional in games, but the only optional part of them here is which ones you do. The story missions won't level your character enough to let you survive, so you'll need to linger in each location until you've built yourself up appropriately. (Thankfully, the missions have tags that clearly display this info.)

GamePro When you can get a full party going, Borderlands begins to shine; it's one of those games that's chock-full of moments that you'll lovingly recount later. Each online experience is made memorable by fun things like smashing into each other with two rocket-mounted buggies, periodically punching your friend to instigate a duel and reviving him later amidst a fight you can't win without him. These moments jive perfectly with the tone of the game, which is surprisingly jovial considering the post-apocalyptic theme. The incredible comic-book art style is a significant factor, with the thick black lines and bright colours breathing a surprising amount of life into an otherwise bleak setting. Watching the nipple-pierced torso of a goalie mask-wearing psycho tumble away from its blood-geyser legs was so silly that I couldn't help but giggle at the absurdity. I got an extra kick out of a lot of the game's goofy characters as well: T. K. Baha is a perfectly loony farmer; the singing, dancing and periodically profane Claptrap robot is adorable; and Dr. Zed's a wildly unprofessional (and unlicensed) medic.

Game Informer While Borderlands and Fallout 3 share a similar apocalyptic, Road Warrior-esque setting, the former does a much better job of making you feel like a wasteland scavenger. Very few story elements are present, so you don't have a constant "I better get back to the main quest" feeling hanging over your head. There's no disappearing family members or ominous government forces making you feel the need to progress through the story, only the desire to grow stronger and survive the myriad creatures populating Pandora. No matter which character you choose, you're not the offspring of a brilliant scientist or politician and you're not the only hope for're just a journeyman with a gun (and ideally a few friends).

Kotaku Borderlands gets a lot of things right, in particular the balance between being a first-person shooter and being a role-playing game. The shooting mechanics are sound, as are many of the role-playing aspects, save for a few design quirks. Growing and customising my level 35 Siren was a great deal of fun, when the tedium of all that walking around didn't spoil it. But where Borderlands excels is in offering a functional four-player cooperative loot-hoarding experience, with gorgeous environments to adventure in and smartly crafted items to collect or covet. The game has a few faults, including its travelling inefficiencies-a weak map combined with plenty of long-range fetch quests-and its easily forgettable story line, but it's still relatively easy to recommend, provided you can tap into the best portions of Borderlands, its cooperative multiplayer modes.

Why am I craving Taco Bell?


    Played Mordecai up to level 10 last night - maybe 3 hours or so? and just jumped the bridge and opened the gate.
    so far so good. its great finidng some totally pimp weapon and then destroying all sorts of fauna until they start to level up - all of a sudden your weapon aint so good no mo!
    but great fun so far

    loving it so far. so addictive. always hoping to find that special weapon.

    Great game. Exactly as written, the story is sidelined by just having fun and blowing shit up. Perfectly good in single player, but definitly more fun with at least another person. Quite a good system too for quest sharing, xp and money sharing when online, no worries about who picks up drops except for who picks up what weapons.

    Sounds like a well decorated flop as expected.
    Maybe it needs the Gravity gun Randy? lol
    John Carmack / ID will be rofl themselves silly when they read the reviews for borderlands. I don't think they have anything to worry about.

    Now to wait for Rage which will show you Randy what a real RPFPS really is.

      Oh, look! Another retarded fanboy taking a joke between industry professionals to heart, even thought he isn't one of said industry professionals.

      shut up shut up shut up

        @El - I didn't know you needed to be a member of this so called 'industry' you speak of to leave a valid point about Randy's stupid comments in his interviews.

        They are not jokes...

        Take his comments about steam...2D boy and Tripwire Interactive have publicly spoken out for the defence of Steam due to Randy's bs comments..this happened only 2days ago!!

        Obviously you must be in the 'industry' since you don't seem to have any idea about recent events.

      Akim, are there any Borderlands threads/articles you haven't trolled in now?

      Go away.

      Have 2x level 13 characters (Siren and Soldier - not enjoy the Siren so much this early on, but I get the feeling she is like the Mage from any of Blizz's MMO's, hopeless early on, glass cannon later on), and levelling Mordecai up this morning.

      Loving every second of it. Lagfree on XBL, with many games available to jump into this morning.

    Played Lilith upto Lvl 19 last night =P it's great fun, though now i've had to let go of all my favourite weapons as they aren't making a scratch... Basdass Skags with Elemental attacks!!! I'm feeling kinda like in Diablo when you go up a difficulty level, and all your stuff has bonuses but it's core stats are shizzen.

    Really enjoying the experience, the range of weapons really feels like there are a lot of guns, they feel different (if not look different)... reload speed, fire rates, ammo, damage, bullet numbers etc... it's all great fun trying to work out what to use!

    Buy this game =) and the Credits are interesting (still reckon they should put a game bonus in there so people watch them =P)

    All i can say is...addictive. If i didnt need sleep i'd still be on it (level 13) plus i had a mate drop in and out and i was great fun, four player will be the shizzle. You know i was worried about the story etc but i tell ya if first impressions is anything to go by then i'm gonna be losing a lot of my life in this game. i spent 120+ hours in fallout and still drop in from time to time, and to be honest the story was OK, but really just loved travelling around killing crap and finding loot. Borderlands is everything i thought it would be and a little bit more. AND i have a felling it will only get better. I pity the fool that doesnt buy this game! Prize please :P

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