Archive for November, 2009

09
Nov
09

Borderlands (Review)

Cross genre games rarely work out well.  In many cases they tend to stick to one area without fully developing the other.  That’s why it’s great to see that Borderlands appears to balance it’s FPS and RPG elements fairly evenly.

First things first, while borderlands may have the words “RPG” on the box it plays like a straight shooter with controls in the vein of COD4, which appear to be the standard nowadays.  There’s no shooting and then waiting around for someone else to take a turn, this is all real-time combat with the RPG elements encompassing the damage, fire rate, accuracy, etc of the weapons.  These stats change pretty much per gun that you find, meaning that in many cases each gun will feel different and you’ll have to adjust the way that you approach situations depending on your fire rate or whether there is elemental damage to consider.  As well as base stats there’s also the inclusion of a character tech-tree which, as from level 5, you’ll receive a skill point that can be put into various character building skills such as improving your characters action skill, or increasing health/ammo regeneration.

The Tech Tree will be different from class to class and thus each different class will force you to play the game in a different manner, the soldier will become a healer that allows for cover and health regeneration through the use of his turret action skill and can also heal team mates by shooting them.  Let me repeat that.  You can shoot people to heal them!  Personally I played through the game as the Siren Class, while she starts of pretty weak at the start, by the time the tech tree had been fully filled she was a bringer of fiery death through the phasewalk skill and nearby enemies would simply ignite if they were in the vacinity.  The Siren Class was pretty fun to play as even in the second play through, getting to the level 50 cap taking roughly 45+ hours, this experience was only heightened by the online co-op in the game.

Artistically, the game manages to separate itself through the implementation of a comic book esq cell shading.  This works really well and suits the tongue-in-cheek nature of the missions and supporting cast of characters.   The wahed out colour allows for objects of interest such as drops and chests to be highlighted better and are easier to notice than a regular FPS style would have.  The Art-style is also a major advantage given the season and the amount of FPS’s that will be released over the next few weeks, this cell shaded look makes it stand out from the crowd so much more.

The main draw of this game though is the sheer amount of loot that you can collect.  Each drop is randomly generating, even in the case of mission rewards with the item varying slightly from person to person.  Meaning that, while there may not be “87 Bazillion guns”, there certainly is well into the thousands.  As well as the amount of loot the pacing of the drops seems to be just right too, with the rarer items coming later into the game, although there can be the occasional super rare orange random drop at any moment, meaning that there is always the incentive to go that little bit farther to see what you can get.

However there are issues that the game has that could be addressed including the lack of a trading system for money or cash, meaning that when you want to trade with someone in your game you need to drop the item in the good faith that the person you want to trade with will do the same and not just run off with it ala PSO style.  Another issues mainly involve MMO standard features that aren’t in the game, such as a mini-map, separate quest logs and bank.  However, this isn’t really an MMO, so adding these features is kind of wierd.  yet, given that many of those people who play these types of games are exactly the crowd that Gearbox would be expecting to be interested in this game then it’s kind of a big oversight in letting these elements not make it into the final product.  Despite these aspects the game does hold its on, indeed for someone who loves the PSO style loot gathering style of gaming this could very well be a serious contender for ‘Game of the Year’.

Borderlands is the first competent step to taking to the FPS genre to a new audience and creating a little variety from the standard faire available.  It remains fun either by playing on solo while being best played on co-op for the most enjoyable experience.  All in all, Borderlands is a great game that constantly keeps you wanting more, more drops, better equipment and when you finish the second play through really makes you anticipate the DLC.  Even those not familiar with RPGs or shooters should really check this out as it is one of the most uniquely fun experiences of this year.

Score: 8.5/10

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Welcome

I'm Mark Gibson & this is another one of my blogs where you're likely to find musings of daily life, gaming & just plain rambling.

Currently Playing:
Modern Warefare 2
Borderlands
Forza 3


Currently Watching:
South Park


Currently Listening to:
Cage - Depart From Me
Flobots - Fight With Tools


Currently Reading:
The Wheel of Time (again)


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