A Moment To Remember The Song That Sold Borderlands

As we sit here waiting for the launch of Borderlands 2, it's easy to forget that a lot of people thought that the first game was going to be a huge flop. It was a new idea amid a flood of sequels, and a totally untested quantity — did we really need another first-person shooter? Why would anyone buy it?

Analyst Michael Pachter famously said that the game was being "sent to die" amid the other big releases like Modern Warfare 2. It made sense at the time!

And yet the game sold a ton of copies, and the sequel is one of the most hyped games of the fall. A lot of that was because Borderlands was a fun game, but I truly think that the above song, "Ain't No Rest For The Wicked" by Cage The Elephant, embodies Borderlands' come-from-behind success.

When most of us first heard about Borderlands, it didn't have its distinct attitude, or that cell-shaded style, or any of that — it was kind of this grey, post-apocalyptic shooter. If that game had come out in fall of 2009, it would have been sent to die. But Borderlands was revamped, given an attitude and an art-style to set it apart, and an ad campaign to match. And the whole thing was fuelled by kick-ass music.

This trailer, which was the first to use the Cage The Elephant song, was the first one to make me sit up and say "Okay, I'm interested."

The song was modified a bit and used in the game's actual introduction, which also worked really well. The whole cheeky vibe, the "Brick as himself" thing and all that, it's really cool. And it's the way it all is cut to tie in with the song that really sets it off. It's got that Guy Richie feel, hip-ass self-aware schlock cinema. It just worked.

And actually, this second ad, featuring "No Heaven" by DJ Champion, was almost as cool. Gearbox (or 2K) certainly has a thing for picking good music for Borderlands ads.

It goes to show that a well-chosen song can go a long way towards making an impression for an untested game. It should've been impossible to launch a brand new shooter right up against Modern Warfare 2. Thanks at least in part to some great musical selections, Borderlands broke through. Now the franchise is so big that the sequel could have been scored by Justin Bieber and we'd still all play it.

Well, OK, maybe no game is that big.


Comments

    I didn't hear of Borderlands until it was already out and people were talking about it. The first time I heard that song was when I first played the game. Borderlands was, in my opinion, average, but it has one of the best intros of any game ever and it's because of that song.

      I'm the exact same boat, infact cage the elephant is now one of my favourite bands as well.

      If the ad was just that intro (and I had actually seen any ads prior to buying it) it would of been instantly on my radar.

      It just reminds me of the Full Throttle intro.

      Now if we can just Get Randy and Tim to team up to make a game....

    Borderlands as far as split screen fun with my brother goes, the best game I have played in years, one of the best gaming memories I have.

    I think the first I heard of it was from a preview/story showing the switch to the cel-shaded graphics. It got me interested and I kept an eye on it but didn't purchase until it was on sale. I now own three copies thanks to the GOTY edition and the 2K pack on Steam.

    The game had a lot of problems. Quite a few bugs, the map and quest interface was a mess, the PC port was terrible, the tone of the game was a bit mixed... But it was a ton of fun, and that's why I'm so excited for Borderlands 2. I think they learnt a lot making the first and this is gonna be a great sequel.

    DJ Champion also had his song 'Perfect In Between' feature in the multiplayer trailer for Assassins Creed: Brotherhood (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6V_R-zH0jlY). It's amazing just how much a great choice of accompanying music in a trailer can build up hype.

    I remember popping the disc in and when this song played, along with the intro, the attitude, I knew this game was something special.

    Unfortunately I just couldn't get into it. I tried starting 2 characters but it just didn't do it for me. And that's purely a matter of taste. Obviously the game was well made and deserving of praise, but it just wasn't my bag.

    I heard of Borderlands when they had a preview on good game (Aussie game review show) and then on release day I went and threw down 99 bucks and I don't think I slept much in the following 3 days. Now I've turn all my friends into borderlands converts who are all getting it just to play co-op with each other. Also Bought it on the PS3 and PC (Thank you steam sales) and it's now my favourite game of all time.
    Kudos to the team at Gearbox

    I didn't really get into it on console because I struggle with those controllers, but I bought it awhile ago on a steam sale and didnt regret it. Its a fantastic shooter/rpg with a unique setting and feel to it, and I love it for that reason alone.

    Dont forget the original score for Borderlands! Some of the best atmospheric music in a game ever imo.

    Let's not forget that Borderlands 2 was doing ironic dub step trailers before they were cool, too. The franchise definitely knows its market.

      It was doing them exactly when it was uncool. I loved reading about people complaining about the music in that trailer.

    More like Boredomlands amirite...

    It's a pity the new trailer uses dubstep, what happened...

      You missed the joke, that's what happened.

      That's the old trailer. The 'new' (few months old, but after dubstep) features "in the jungle"

    I never got right into this game right when it cam e out because I didn't have a decent console and a terrible computer. I got this game when my friends showed it to me once I got a good computer and it went on sale. The intro hit and I was like "ho....ly.....shit......" Steam at this point likes to remind me that Ive played over 80 hours of the game and even right now as Im shitting myself for borderlands 2 Im still totally addicted to the first one.

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