Saturday, September 17, 2011

TheAssailant6661 Reviews: Borderlands

For the past 9 months I have been playing Borderlands. After acquainting myself with its niches and quirks, playing through all of the Downloadable content, searching for the best guns, grenade mods, shields, abilities, fighting through every boss, and doing the best I can to defeat the single most difficult enemy in the entire game (it's impossible to do it on your own), I can now comfortably review Borderlands in its entirety. Though it can be played as a single-player game, Borderlands is best enjoyed with at least one other person. Playing by yourself is the least interesting way to play Borderlands and is not recommended at all. Part of the fun of the game comes with dicking around with teammates and making wise cracks at your friends about how much they suck at the game. I'm serious.

I have been known to describe Borderlands as the inverse of Fallout. While Fallout is mostly an RPG with Shooter elements, Borderlands and mostly a Shooter with RPG elements. And that's where the comparisons to Fallout end. Borderlands is quite unique in its execution of gameplay. It's a fast paced Shooter with a fair share of explosions, vehicles, alien creature things, Challenges for killing X alien creature things or killing X enemies with X type of guns, class-specific skills, leveling, and Critical Hits. The game controls much like a Call of Duty title, in terms of button layout on the XBOX 360 controller (and yes, I only reviewed the XBOX 360 version. Owning multiple copies of the same exact game on different systems is for people who hate having fun), and needless to say it works. The only thing that would be new to a CoD player would be the Action Skill, which is Class-specific and bound to the Left Bumper, and the D-Pad used for weapon swapping between (up to) 4 equipped weapons.
Everyday I'm Hustlin'

Each class has his or her own Action Skill. The Soldier deploys a turret that, with upgrades can shoot a barrage of bullets, shoot rockets, heal players, regenerate ammo, and help up a downed ally. The Siren's Action Skill turns her invisible, allowing her to move at an incredible speed through enemies. She can also use the skill to attack an enemy with a Force Push-like melee attack. The Hunter summons a Bloodwing (which is a very deadly bird) that attacks an enemy by basically mauling their face off. The Berserker's Action Skill will not only heal him, but cause him to -- you know, go berserk. In Berserk mode, you can run up to people and punch them in the face repeatedly until they go plop. Each action skill can also be upgraded to have elemental effects from Artifacts.

Guns can also have elemental damage. Every gun you find in the game is randomly generated on the spot (except for a few key weapons, but even then those have variations). In addition to the random chance for certain guns to have scopes, or large magazines, or low recoil, they also have a chance of doing elemental damage. Every gun has their own manufacturer and each manufacturer has their own special rules to their guns. For example, Maliwan only manufactures elemental guns, while Jakobs never manufactures elemental weapons. Certain manufacturers will have certain styles, like white guns from Atlas, or red guns from Hyperion. Often times I simply can't find the a gun with the specs I'm looking for, but once I do, I never let go... Until of course I find a better one.

Grenades and shields also have their own traits based on the manufacturer. There are various grenade types, though Transfusions are very helpful in stealing enemy health to replenish your own. Additionally, healing shields are good, but often times have low amounts of actual shielding. There are also class mods that can add to your Class' skills depending on the type of Class Mod.

Bow chicka wah wah
The story is nothing special and isn't really necessary to enjoy the game, but I could never feel like I was actually part of the Borderlands universe. Missions are given and you can accept them, but any backstory is written in text, and this being a fast paced shooter and all, I simply couldn't be bothered to do that. All I ever really did was go to where the checkpoint told me to go, finish the checklist, return to the quest giver, and collect my rewards. I never even knew why I was doing the missions or for what reason they needed to be done, I just did them. No, I will not go so far as to say that it's a social commentary on how people will take any job so long as there is a reward. I will not excuse Gearbox for not including a "Read This Text To Me Because I'm a Lazy Bum" option.

Downloadable Content
There are 4 pieces of DLC for Borderlands. The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot, The Secret Armory of General Knoxx, and Claptrap's New Robot Revolution. A main issue I have with the DLCs is the pure lack of a Fast Travel system I had grown accustomed to using throughout the main game. Monotony is an understatement here. There is nothing I enjoy less than traveling for 15 minutes in a video game to pick up a quest, only so I can travel 15 minutes back to do the quest, and then another 15 minutes to hand it in. Then there's Mad Moxxi's lack of a save feature, forcing you to either complete the round, or be forced to restart that entire Colosseum. Not to mention that an entire Colosseum play through of just 5 rounds can last a good 3-4 hours. And the "It Stopped Being Cool 50 minutes ago" Moxxi theme song doesn't help. To be entirely honest, the only reason I bought Moxxi was because of the Bank feature which lets you store some of your items. Oh, and you get no experience for killing enemies either, so if you thought Moxxi would be a good, easy way of leveling up, you were wrong.
This is what hell looks like
As long as you have someone else to play with and go 50-50 on the DLC (unless you're not like me and waited for the Game of the Year Edition, and in that case I hate you), I recommend Borderlands and most of its DLC. The game can be fun if played with others and is satisfying when your weapons don't suck.

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