Developer: Gearbox Software / Publisher: 2K Games / ESRB: Mature (Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Mature Humor, Strong Language) / Played on: Xbox 360 / Price: $59.99
Today on Pay, Rent, or Pass we are taking a look at the latest release from 2K Games and Gearbox software Borderlands for the Xbox 360. The game is billed as a Co-Op and single player First Person shooter RPG. That’s a mouthful. The question is, does it live up to that description?
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Firstly, lets talk about the story. The game takes place on planet Pandora and players are in search of a legendary Vault that contains numerous treasures. In their search for the vault, players take command of one of four different classes that the game has to offer. The big buff tank-type Berserker, the phase-walking Siren, the pet controlling sniper hunter, or the turret dropping soldier class are all at players disposal. Now each of these classes have their own strengths and special abilities and are a helluva lot of fun to play as. Throughout the game as players level up, they will have the ability to spend skill points on different abilities for each of the classes. Over the course of the game players will be able to completely max out 2 full rows of upgrades, so you have to choose wisely. Do you want to be greedy and pick the perks that benefit you? Or should you pick out the things that will benefit your squad-mates? Its up to the player to decide and actually provides a valid reason to come back and play the game through again and again trying out different perks and seeing the outcome. The game offers up over a hundred missions to play and an insurmountable amount of different weapons to use that range from common items to extremely unique and rare artifacts. The game has a Diablo/World of Warcraft feel to it… lots of grinding and looting going on in Borderlands. I really was a bit skeptical as to whether or not a system like this would work in a FPS but after spending many many hours with the game rest assured that it goes above and beyond and completely succeeds. The single player game in this game is fun but can get a little boring not having 3 other players to help you out. It would have been nice to have an AI feature that allowed the computer to take control of other squad mates. Where this game really shines is in online Co-Op play. Jump online with three friends and the game just gets flat out amazing. The enemies you fight are more difficult and give you more experience for killing them, the loot drops contain more rare items and the game is just much more fun playing with other people. Make sure you play with friends though because the game doesn’t have a roll system in place for unique items. This was a bit of a bummer as well. Overall though the game play is solid and will provide players with hours upon hours of enjoyment.
The graphics in Borderlands are unique and have a feel all their own. The cartoony cell-shaded feel really helps bring to life a game and environments that would otherwise be brown drab and boring. The characters and environments all pop due to slight outlines that are placed around everything. The character design in the game is extremely well done. All of the characters look like they belong in the world that gearbox created. Another thing that really stands out are the weapon designs. I mentioned earlier that the game has a plethora of weapons for you to find and use and each of these has their own look and feel. Its quite impressive and its obvious the developers took a lot of time to polish the weapons in Borderlands. One of the only set backs in the graphics department is the fact that many many many times in the game the details in the environments and characters wont be loaded right away so you will start off a level with a flat matte of color over everything and slowly the details will start to fill in. It can be a little distracting and was one of the first things I noticed when starting up the game. If you can get past the details slowly filling in, the graphics otherwise are solid.
Borderlands sound is extremely remarkable. The voice acting is on par with the environments you play in, all of the characters sound like backwards hillbillies that live in the middle of nowhere. The soundtrack manages to keep you immersed in the world even if you aren’t in the middle of an epic gun battle. And speaking of gun battles, one of the most impressive things about the sound in this game has to be the different amount of gun sound effects found within. Just as the look of the guns in Borderlands is unique so are the sounds that come out of them. Again… time well spent developing uniqueness for all of the weapons found in the game.
Being that this is a first person shooter, controls need to be tight in order for the game to work as it should. That being said, the controls are exceptionally tight in Borderlands. Everything is quick and responsive and the game doesn’t overload you with too many things to manage at once. The layout provided was plotted out well enough for me that I didn’t want to change anything. The only thing that was a little wonky is trying to drive the vehicles in the game. Borderlands driving controls are supposed to work like Halo’s but for some reason just doesn’t work as well. A small gripe in an otherwise near perfect control scheme.
Borderlands for the Xbox 360 is an extremely addicting title. Its the type of game that had me saying to myself at 2 in the morning “one more quest and then I’ll be done” That for me is a rarity. The replay value on Borderlands is extremely high with 4 different classes to play as each with their own skill trees and abilities to customize, players will absolutely want to go back and try out different combinations and classes. Playing online with friends looting and leveling up is a blast and I would recommend to anyone to pick up this title immediately and start playing. Borderlands is a Pay.