Borderlands for Playstation 3 Reviewed

It isn’t often enough that a video game completely catches my attention, sapping away days at a time while I venture through the game’s world, questing toward the climax. The number of such games likely barely scrapes a dozen, but I am pleased to be able to add yet another to that total:

Borderlands. I hadn’t heard much about the game prior to playing it. Indeed, my purchase of the game was more an impulse decision than anything. My brother was visiting for ten days, and halfway through the visit, I made a run to Walmart for some Coke. While there, I detoured through the game section — as is my way — and checked out a few new releases. Borderlands was one that I picked up, and while I didn’t look over the whole case, I caught two details which sealed the sale for me: it supported two-player local cooperative, and it was a role playing shooter.

I brought the game home, and we began to play it straightaway.

To say that we were both blown away would be an understatement.

Lilith We learned that we were playing the parts of Vault hunters on an alien world named Pandora. The Vault, so the legend goes, can only be opened every 200 years, but really no one’s even sure whether it exists or not. The planet itself is mostly abandoned, leaving only the residents of the abandoned prisons and a few more sociable folks to encounter throughout the lands. There’s plenty of local wildlife as well — wildlife that would be more than happy to eat you if given the chance.

At the onset of the game, we were presented with the choice between four characters — Brick, Mordecai, Lilith, and Roland. Each character has a different specialty, similar to other role playing games that may have priests, knights, and so on. I chose Lilith, whose focus was on dealing elemental damage. (Elementals in Borderlands consist of explosives, corrosives, incendiaries, and electricals.)

The game’s signature artistic style wowed us at the start, but over the next five days, it continually amazed us. The hand-drawn, cell-shaded, comic book styles set Borderlands apart from most other games out there, simply because it does not strive to be as realistic as possible. (When emulating reality, it’s only a matter of time before games start to be indistinguishable.) Still, there was moments in the game that we had to question what we were seeing because everything looked so polished, so beautiful.

Gameplay in Borderlands is pretty straightforward. The storyline is advanced through quests — of which there are well over 100 for you to indulge in — and these quests are received from a variety of sources, whether from the dancing Claptrap robots, town Bounty Boards, or slack-jawed locals such as Scooter. The quests ensure that there is always something to do in the game’s vast environments and are the quickest way to level up your character.

Perhaps most enjoyable, at least for my brother and I, was the game’s item system. The game has been promoted as having a “bajillion” guns, and we very quickly started to see what that meant. No two guns are the same, thanks to the game’s random item generating system. Even the appearances of guns is varied based on a variety of factors. And while most of these guns seem pretty run-of-the-mill, there are countless which are quite fantastical. Need a shotgun that fires rockets? A sniper rifle that can set enemies on fire? A pistol with an infinite clip? A rock launcher that launches five rockets at once? Borderlands has all this and more.

I’m going to seem morbid here, but I’d be remiss not to mention it due to us getting so much enjoyment out of it while playing: the death animations are great! Catch an enemy on fire, and you’ll see them jumping around, trying to pat the flames out. You may even hear them scream for their mommies. It’s all very crazy, but it is quite well done. Believe me, though, in Borderlands, it’s truly kill or be killed. Just wait until the first Psycho starts running at you screaming, “Split the flesh! Salt the wounds!” or perhaps, “More meat for me!” They’re just begging for a headshot, I think.

With a drop-in, drop-out multiplayer system (locally, over a local network, or over the Internet), Borderlands makes for a great party game. I’m actually not too excited about the single player, preferring to play it with someone else whenever possible. The nice thing about all of that, though, is that the save files aren’t “per game”; they are “per player.” In other words, I can take my character’s save file and use it wherever — online, in single player, or in a local multiplayer game. Items, experience, skill point attribution, and so on follower a character into whatever mode is being played, which is very nice.

If I were to rate Borderlands based only upon it’s single player, I’d give it 4 out of 5. If I were to rate it based solely on its multiplayer, it’d get 5 out 5. So, I’m going to split the difference and rate it 4.5 out of 5. If you are a fan of role playing games or first person shooters, I encourage you to get Borderlands. And if you happen to be playing it on the Playstation 3, feel free to add me as a friend, username KingdomGeek.

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