9.0

Borderlands review
Wild West Shoot Em Up Meets Sci Fi

The good:

Massive Variation in Equipment
4 Character Classes to Choose From
Shooter meets RPG
Interesting Art Style
Great Online (And Offline) Co-Op
Great Replay Value
Some Good Downloadable Content

The bad:

Missions tend to get repetitive
Classes aren't well balanced
Can't take on higher level enemies for huge EXP boosts
DLC has no fast travel
*Spoilered* Story Related Spoiler (Check End, highlight white text)

Summary:

How does one describe Borderlands????

"Over the Top"

I find that works best as it applies to:

The Action - On Pandora (The planet you're on), Running and gunning is at its best. Though if you prefer, you can go with the more careful approach and take your enemies out from afar.

The Amount of Variation of Items - There are 8 types (plus grenade). The Shotgun, SMG, Repeater (Pistol), Revolver, Rocket Launcher, Sniper Rifle, Assault Rifle, and the rare Eridian weapon class. Though the Revolver and Repeater share a weapon class, which is convenient.

The Humor - Yeah, it's over the top. I won't spoil it for you, but not very much is taken seriously in the game. Even the weapons sometimes have little quotes in them (which also indicate special effects).

Now, on to some of the good points I mentioned...


The Weapons (And other Equips)

Yep, there are multiple types, depending on your preference and some are better suited to a given character class, but the choice is yours. They tend to work as you'd expect. I should note that while the repeater is a pistol like weapon, the fire rate can vary from pistol-like to uzi-like, which also tends to reflect on its accuracy.

There are multiple weapons manufacturers, and they tend to favor certain modifications, but I'll let you look that up if you like.

Weapons can have elemental effects (4 types of effect), which can be good or not so good depending on the enemy you face. Fire effect for example, is great against unarmored foes, but does bugger all on machines. An elemental effect also lowers the standard damage the weapon does, so you have to take that into consideration.

The grenades are separate from the other weapons. Unlike the standard weapons, they can be specially modded with 'grenade mods'. These mods will affect the type of damage they do, and the damage rating.

You'll also pick up shields (which also have special effects in many cases), and Class Mods, which have special effects on your given class (Such as boosting certain stats, decreasing recharge time for your special ability, etc).

Careful choice of equipment may mean the difference between easy win and "Oops, you died".


Shooter meets RPG

A bit of an odd combination you might think, but it works exceptionally well in this game.

Unlike a lot of FPS games, you're not able to take on everybody from the get go, no, you start off as a level 1 noob with no equipment, and easy pickings for just about anyone in Pandora.

Getting stronger and preparing yourself for fodder (regular enemies) and the elite enemies (bosses) alike, takes some preparation and work. That's not to say it isn't fun or addictive!

As mentioned earlier, there is a huge variation to weapons and other equips, and different weapons and special effects are suited to different enemies and player classes. A little variation here and there can have drastic effects on how well your character performs. For example, you might find a shield that provides a good amount of armor, but what's that? The recharge rate is pathetic? That's not good, because if it empties in a fire fight, that slow recharge rate will cause you a lot of problems. Well, at least you can switch to another shield, but you have to wait for a 'boot up' period. So you see, having the right equips makes all the difference.

I've not even gotten to the real RPG elements. The Skill Tree. Each character has their own skill tree, split into three types of focus. For example, the Siren class has one section focused on maximizing weapons, and another that focuses more on elemental effects, and yet another that is more tuned to melee damage.

The choice of how you set up your character is yours. But don't fear about making a big mistake and not finding out until it's too late! It's never too late, you can re-spec your character at the New-U station, which is where you spawn when you enter the world, and where you regenerate when you die. It costs a nominal fee, but later on in the game it's very cheap.

Now, on to the last section, two parts in one!


Replay Value and Co-Op

As mentioned before, the offline story tends to get a bit tiresome, but that's where the online comes into play. You can play online or offline co-op comes into play! With up to 3 allies, you can take on the world of Pandora as a team! The more people you play with, the tougher enemies get, giving more experience and better loot.

For those that don't play online, or want to get the most out of offline, there is life after beating the game. There is a second playthrough where you start from the beginning with all your equipment intact, and tougher enemies to deal with. After that, there is a 'Playthrough 2.5', which is to say the world after beating the game (a second time) is at max toughness (all enemies are around Level 48 to 51, and all loot drops are level 48).

Let's not forget that there are 4 (that's FOUR) classes to choose from, each with their own special abilities and skill trees!


The Downloadable Content!

Yep, as of this writing, there is 3 DLC available, with a 4th on the way.

The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned - Just like it is described....An island DLC with a big zombie infestation. This DLC takes the humor up a notch, and provides several hours of gameplay. IMO, very much worth it.

Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot[i] - Basically an arena DLC with 3 arena stages included....This DLC is a miss for me. It's challenging, and the rewards are hardly worth it. However, it is redeemed somewhat when playing it online apparently.

[i]The Secret Armory of General Knoxx
- The largest (thus far) DLC in terms of size and content. New weapons and equipment, increased level cap (61, up from 50), and some new enemies to take on. It's a must have for Borderlands fans. If you get only one of the DLC, get this one.

Now, on to the bad. Yes, there is bad stuff >_>


The Bad

Rather than separate it all out, I'll sum it up in a few paragraphs since in a game this good, the bad parts aren't horrible. Also, I spoilered the last bit....

Well, you know that the missions get repetitive (which is pretty standard with RPG based games). There is a little too much 'go there, collect this, come back" and "Go to that other place, kill this, come back" type missions. Not a lot of interesting missions. On the plus side, you can play these missions online or split-screen to make it less tedious.

Next, it has become apparent that classes aren't too well balanced. It seems that at later levels, the Soldier class becomes seriously outclassed, whereas the Siren class pulls ahead. You can consider this to be a balance issue (re: choose between a stronger start and weaker endgame, or the other way around), but it makes things a bit tough for more inexperienced players starting out (especially those that are unfamiliar with FPS games).

A couple of minor gripes now.....One, you can't take on high level enemies and expect a big payoff (in EXP). You'd think that working hard to take down an enemy of several levels higher than you would net a lot of EXP, but not so much. The challenge versus reward isn't very well balanced. The other thing is that in the Downloadable content, there is no fast travel option (unlocked partway through the main story). This leads to unnecessary tedium of having to travel some distances over terrain you've beaten repeatedly and isn't worth your time anymore.


Below is a spoiler about the story in the game.
Highlight to Read

You sure? OK then....

The ending of the main game is disappointing. The boss battle itself was OK (nothing epic), but that vault you've been working so hard to get to? Yeah, better luck next time, it is locked away and all you get is a monetary reward (which doesn't amount to much) for your troubles and a 'Sorry, try again in about 200 years'.....


/Spoiler



Well, that's it! You've read (I hope you read!) my long review, now for my closing comments.


In Closing....

Borderlands is an awesome game with tons of replay value, and will provide you with many hours of entertainment (Over 3 days 8 hours total clock time for me, last I checked XD). Addictive, surprisingly deep considering its genre (FPS), and just a blast to play. In light of that, the gripes I have with it are very minor, so really, you should ignore them. This game is, IMO, a must have for people who like FPS games, but want a bit more depth than "I've given you a few guns, now shoot things with it" gameplay. Basically, if you're a fan of FPS and RPGs, this game is for you!

I've given it a 4.5 because this game is awesome, and only has mostly minor gripes detract from it.

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