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[Feel free to check out Shawn Evan's review of the PC version.]

First person RPGs seem to be the industry’s new trend, especially with the success of such critically acclaimed titles like BioShock and Fallout 3. In Fallout 3 the emphasis was clearly on the roleplaying elements involving choice and heavy focus on narrative, while the FPS aspect was, at best, mediocre. BioShock was intuitively crafted, boasting both wonderful gameplay and an engrossing story, but it felt as though something was missing within the roleplaying realm.

Gearbox Software hopes to achieve the ultimate balance of gameplay, roleplaying, and narrative with their latest endeavor, Borderlands. As seen in previous, successful efforts, this balance is hard to achieve. But with superb run and gun gameplay, seamless drop-in, drop-out multiplayer, and a freakin’ bagillion guns at your disposal, Borderlands should not be passed up.

Though it’s not the perfect first person RPG, Borderlands is pretty damn close. Focusing more on combat, customization, and loot rather than a memorable narrative, the game sets a lightning fast pace right from the start. Bullets and explosives will zoom by your head as soon as you enter the world of Pandora. It creates a hectic yet undeniably exciting atmosphere as you set forth on your adventure, whether it be by your sad, sorry lonesome or with a group of three of your so-called friends.

The story behind Borderlands, while sufficient enough, isn’t too compelling, nor up to par when compared to the rest of the game. You play the role of one of four distinct mercenary classes charged with the mission to unlock a Vault on the planet of Pandora that opens once every 200 years, that is only accessible once you’ve collected all of the pieces of the key. You”ll have the help of a “guardian angel” in the form of a recurring vision that will help explain your main goals at hand, a la Atlus of BioShock fame. Now, would you kindly move on to the next paragraph?

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Although the story may be forgettable, Borderlands thrives because of its sidequest, loot, and combat mechanics. Controls mimic every well-polished console FPS on the market, with a few tweaks to account for the game’s unique spin. While you’ll be running and gunning down most of your enemies, each character class has a special combat skill to them on your quest to uncover Pandora’s Vault (really?).

The four classes, the soldier, beserker, hunter and siren, hold much different abilities from each other, giving each merc a true, individualized feel. Mordecai, the hunter, holds a direct damage falcon-esque bird of prey, Brick, the beserker, charges his foes in a brutal rage with nothing but fisticuffs, Rolands, the soldier, deploys a turret that will fend off enemies while also providing cover, and Lilith, the siren, “phase walks,” which grants enhanced speed and releases an AOE burst of energy. Even though much of your time will be spent behind the gun, player skills are an intuitive addition to the very solid FPS action that the game offers. And once fully upgraded, they are invaluable and a blast to use the psychotic inhabitants of Pandora.

As you make a bloody mess of the planet and gain experience, you’ll be able to customize your character’s abilities, as well as the effectiveness of their class skills. Much like other loot-driven RPG’s, your set of skills are divided into three separate trees. Each of the three sets are unique to the four mercs, and offer a great amount of customizing that will keep even the most nitpicking of us content. Your skills can be modified to deal more damage, grant better and more frequent loops drops, regenerate ammo, amongst many other enhancements. However, because of class stereotypes established by the game, abilities pertaining to weapon types may pigeonhole your character to certain weapon types.

Each class can specialize in two different weapons, and while you’ll be able to boost your proficiency level for each weapon type, you’ll only be able to gain unique abilities for two specific weapons, which depend on your class. For example, choosing the hunter will allow specialization in snipers and pistols, but if you favor the combat rifle, you may want to choose a different class. The skills system has minor problems, but ultimately is a great aspect that you’ll find quite pleasing. Especially since you can remap your skills at any time for a very low (in game) price.

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Though the combat and skill system are a great deal of fun, the game’s major pull revolves around loot and the ungodly amount there is to collect. There are literally over 15 million randomly generated weapons within the seven archetypes: combat rifle, rocket launcher, SMG, sniper rifle, revolvers, repeater pistols, and shotguns. To accommodate numerous styles of play, each weapon deals varying damage, holds different sized ammo clips, has a faster rate of fire, or slower reload times. You’ll be hard-pressed to find the “perfect weapon” because each weapon has their own up and downsides, and the simple fact that, chances are, theres a better weapon waiting to be found.

However, once you’ve decided what weapons best suit you (a total of four can be equipped), you’ll want to stick to them. The longer you use a weapon, the more proficient you become with said weapon. The better proficiency with a weapon, the more accurate you are. It adds both a better sense of realism and customization that’s rarely seen in an FPS, for if your weapon proficiency is poor, the damage you deal and how accurate your firing is will suffer.

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Now, Borderlands is not without its flaws. The general landscape remains relatively unchanged throughout most of the game, as stylish and pretty the artwork may be. It gets a little dull staring at the same exact wasteland as you traverse from area to area. The unmemorable narrative certainly does nothing to help with the barren landscape, particularly since the huge number of sidequests usually offer more interesting stories: you should also prepare for what is possibly the worst ending of all time. While the game warrants multiple playthroughs, you’ll have most likely reached the level cap well before the end of the second one, which hinders motivation to continue. Unless your itchin’ for some high level loot, there’s no real reason to keep playing once you’ve reached the max level.

With monstrous titles looming over its head, Borderlands has gone above and beyond expectations, and justly deserves to sit among the big boys. Though it may be short on narrative, it more than makes up for it with slick combat mechanics, great customization options, and the always awesome ability to jump in to your friends game, over Xbox Live or splitscreen (only two player) anytime you want. Trust me, if you don’t have friends, go make some: Borderlands only gets better with the more people playing. And with The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned DLC making its way to a console near you November 24th, you’ll need all the help you can get.

Rating Category
9.0 Presentation
Though the wasteland gets dull, the stylish artwork mix very well with the quirky, yet serious tone.
How does our scoring system work?
9.0 Gameplay
With well polished controls and a great combat and ability system, it's hard to find something not to like.
9.0 Sound
The bullets whizzing by your ear and the explosions booming in your face sound great, as does the impressive voicework.
8.0 Longevity
While it does promote multiple playthroughs, you'll reach the level cap too quickly, which takes away some of the desire to continue.
9.0 Overall
When a game has such vicious combat, an intriguing skill system, and full co-op capability, a mediocre story can be overlooked. Borderlands is a necessity for any fan of the FPS and RPG genres, or just down-right looting fun.

  1. Man…I’m really tempted to pick this one up…
    If only I could convince some of my friends to buy it too…O=)

  2. @ RJ Clarke – Sounds like it’s time to ADD some new friends. Hit me up for some Pandora runs.

    XBLID: thejesusninja

    • avatar Simran

      Add my name too. I can’t go pass a crteain area. Have try everything. Using standard TV, and different HD settings. Installing on HD seem to make problem worst. So, it seems I cant play it

  3. avatar thelankydude

    This game is really tremendous. It’s unique, stylish, the combat is slick, and the quests are a blast. A great game. I think it’s a good as Mass Effect or Bioshock and better than Fallout 3.

  4. avatar hans

    better than fallout 3. you got to be kitting me

  5. avatar hans

    i am no avid speller ,but fallout 3 is the ultimate game

  6. avatar ethaniel

    i play border lands and im a level 26

    • avatar Vivek

      I’ve ntcioed that when mine freezes it happens when I’m exploring. If I follow the linear path, I have no problems. If I attack an enemy trying to get an item that’s off the well-beaten path, it freezes every time. Otherwise, it’s ok.

    • avatar Taylor

      goose2goose2 on January 26, 2011 @electrique527 @tsport100 know much about wind tnierubs> ? No ..maybe do just a few minutes searching around, before shoot your mouth off and showing everyonewhat we already knew..that you don’t have a clue.the gen-set alone cost over 700 dollars try looking up the cost of an axial flux gen-set,then you might consider even finding out just what , exactly that is .

  7. avatar ethaniel

    The best computer game for pc is game is ciresis

    • avatar Romeo

      Apr05 Yes sir, the PS3 must have sold out. It was $19.99 yaseerdty, today the Xbox 360 version hit $19.99 again. Hopefully The PS3 version comes back to that price. We will keep it updated. Thanks!

  8. avatar AARJAY

    The FPS combined with an RPG makes a good combo in terms of gameplay. Fallout 3 has an awesome plot that can be affected by the choices you make,but the dialogue slows it down, it is more like a traditional RPG and less like a fast paced FPS .Borderlands is more like an Open world FPS and less RPG, with almost absent dialogue or ability to change the plot.

  9. avatar towelsguy

    its better with modded guns :D

  10. avatar s810'sDaughter

    Only played games on my PC…until…recently got an xbox–BL is the first game I played on the xbox…it’s addictive…in a good way.

  11. avatar HaXToR

    you mean “Crysis” ….. what a dumbshit, it is a cool game though and f3 does suck.

    • avatar Issam

      just bghuot FFXIII tonight. froze in Chapter 2 and the start of Chapter 3. anyone have any idea on how to fix it? maybe keep a bucket of ice water handy for overheating? who knows . help with this would be awesome.

    • avatar Chawki

      srarialcbuz on September 19, 2011 have anyone of you tried GETFREENEOPOINTS(dot)COM? it works perfectly fine here. I got 10,000 neopoints roughly in 10 minutes.

  12. avatar Anonymous

    assassins creed 2 is better than every game pal

    • avatar Thomas

      lava172 on September 19, 2011 @littlewolf789 kids find neoteps FUN.its FUN to use your imagination and pretend that stuff is real

  13. avatar finger me tommy

    AC2 LOL. no its not… good story but gets repetitive.

  14. avatar Anonymous

    The Guardian Angel actually used the term “Would You Kindly?” when repairing your first broken claptrap. I LOVE the many, many references to other games, and movies Borderlands has.

  15. avatar Anonymous

    For single player BL is an amazing game. but what makes BL stand out gameplay-wise is the co-op aspect of it. By far best game ive played with my buddy. Also game makers put a toooon of humour into the game. All around awsome game, just need a second now lol

  16. avatar Krishna

    ledag123 on February 2, 2011 @Stepanfo1 WTF??? who cares about the birds when the plolution of power plants are burning the planet come on! open your eyes. this things are saving the entire enviorement not just the birds.

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