Review: Borderlands

Released back in October 2009, I finally got around to playing Borderlands. If your still considering the purchase of this game, make sure you have plenty of time.. it’s...

Borderlands

Released back in October 2009, I finally got around to playing Borderlands. If your still considering the purchase of this game, make sure you have plenty of time.. it’s massive !

Graphics
I wouldn’t call myself a fan of cell-shaded graphics, but games like Crackdown and Borderlands pull it off quite well, offering a welcome break away from the familiar style of most FPS games. To be honest, after about 10 minutes in the game, I really stopped noticing the graphics, a good sign of engaging gameplay and story line.

Borderlands

Gameplay
Borderlands does something very special, that’s getting the balance between your skills and enemy difficulty. There’s times where taking out enemies is no sweat, then others that’ll have you running for cover. This constant back and forward always keeps you on your toes. A key part of this game is weapon select and stat point allocation. As your backpack fills up with weapons, you’ll be forced to make decisions about which is the right weapon for the current situation. Switching out during a battle is a really bad idea, so best to be prepared before entering a battle. After fixing a few Claptraps, you’ll unlock backpack upgrades, allowing you to carry and equip more weapons, this makes things a little easier.

Each of the 4 characters you can select from have their own special ability. These can be upgraded by applying stat points – earned when you level up. Levelling up occurs after a certain level of XP is reached. XP or experience points are earned by killing enemies.

Other complexities involve ammo, health and shield, in particular choosing between upgrades that benefit yourself vs the team. Ideally you’d play with at least 3 players, one that has team ammo regeneration, one with team health and the third with team health. This is a killer combo.

Level design was incredibly varied, each area containing different layout, lighting, enemies and a unique feeling. This helped keep the game fresh as you proceeded through the missions and unlocked new areas. There were however a few times where it felt like getting from one place to another was a little repetitive. The quick teleporter wasn’t that helpful, with the missions screen rarely indicating where missions needed to be turned in. 

Vehicles in the games, could have done with some more variety and strength. Running over higher level bugs will strangely leave your car in a burning heap and you almost dead.

Borderlands

Multiplayer
Offering both LAN and Online multiplayer game types, borderlands has all bases covered. Personally I’ve played a lot more LAN than online, largely due to the fact I was trying to finish the game and hit level 50. Now that’s achieved, online is a real option.

Mad Moxxi's Underdome RIOT - Borderlands DLC the Zombie Island of Dr.Ned - Borderlands DLC

DLC
There’s already been 2 downloadable content packs for Borderlands – Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot and the Zombie Island of Dr.Ned. I’ve played the later, and if you want new levels, new missions and the chance to kill Zombie Scags, this one is for you.

Overall
One of the best value for money games available. Sue there are other MMO’s that contain more hours of game play, but they attract a monthly subscription. Grab some mates, and have yourself a good old LAN session, I did – and loved it ! Weapons could benefit from a little better progression structure, too many low-level weapons were given as rewards when at the higher levels. This means you spend too long evaluating if current weapons should be traded for weapons on the ground, more than likely they weren’t and it simply cost time. The other criticism was the money, not enough of it early, becomes irrelevant all together with millions in the bank and nothing better to buy from the vending machines.

If you looked past Borderlands in 2009, I suggest you give it another look in 2010. Particularly with more DLC on the way that’ll increase player levels past 50.

Borderlands is available on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.

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Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.
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