Quick Hit – Borderlands

Third time’s a charm. I refused to play through this one on my own, and started it twice with other co-op partners, until my current roommate and I finally plowed through it in anticipation of the sequel, gleefully tittering all the way.

Image property of IGN

Platform: PS3*, Xbox 360, PC
Players: 1-2 (Online: 2-4)
Genre: FPS/RPG
ESRB: Mature (Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Mature Humor, Strong Language)

Borderlands took the world by storm by blending polished FPS mechanics with deep RPG skill trees and then tossing in more guns than you could imagine. Not only this, but it made a strong case for local co-op still being a thing.

The variant classes constitute multiple playthroughs, though the drive for higher levels and better guns is a good enough reason in itself to play again with the same character instead of switching classes. Each class is clearly defined and has a distinct style while still capable of being successful however the player deems fit.

The graphics style is a nice change of pace, as are the characters and crude humor seeping out of Pandora. Enemies range from “midget” to “badass”, keeping firefights gripping and intense. NPCs are similarly quirky, the hallmark of whom being Claptraps, small robots that aid in most aspects of the game and, if nothing more, are reliable for chuckle-worthy dialogue.

However, the story does little to further that effort. A wealth of sidequests that provide little context of their own can seem to drag as the player yearns for a goal. Even if they did have a relevant narrative, you’d never know as most conversing takes place on the quest screen inside billboards of text that most people don’t care to read before blazing off to wherever to hunt down an NPC’s prosthetic leg. This is a shame, because the main narrative really starts to push you once the ball gets rolling in the final areas.

The environments are equally drab. The greater portion of game takes place in arid desert areas. Once again, this is an aspect that gains some ground in the later moments of the game, and so it’s a shame that it didn’t permeate throughout.

Despite these flaws, tight mechanics and a trailblazing genre hybrid make Borderlands a must-play. Excuse me while I destroy the sequel. If you’re already playing it, drop your thoughts in the comments!

Bottom Line: 8.5/10

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