Sunday, November 8, 2009
Borderlands (360, PS3, PC)
There's guns. And guns. And guns. And more guns. And more guns. I could go on like this for about an hour.
BORDERLANDS is the highly anticipated four player co-op shooter which has been touted as Diablo for a new generation by cliffy B over at Epic Games. That's pretty high praise. He's right, however - Borderlands is a loot-driven experience which relies heavily on co-op and online play.
The premise follows the tale of four fortune hunters arriving on planet Pandora, a wasteland of sorts filled to the brim with scrapyards the size of football fields and angry wildlife. It's your job to take control of one of the four characters and lead them on their way to find the Vault, a massive stash of alien technology. It's been generally dismissed as a myth, but you are contacted by a mysterious woman who tells you the vault is real. It's a decent enough plot but it's not fleshed out terribly well and feels rather forgettable.
The gameplay, however, does not disappoint. The single thing I can state firmly about it is that it's fun. It's fun blasting bandits and raiders to pieces, it's fun dissecting skags with your favorite shotgun, it's fun making heads explode with a sniper rifle that fires explosive bullets. You'll be gleefully entertained as you pick up a revolver and begin showing people what their brains look like. It's a good thing the controls can keep up with the action most of the time, although control defaults are a bit odd. Melee is mapped to V? whaa?
My largest gripe with the game was that I experienced a few bugs. The PC version has terrible connectivity issues and gearbox are jamming their fingers in their ears and shouting. The xbox 360 version's matchmaking function would send you into games with players well below your level. There's a few other ones I don't feel like specifying. The PS3 version suffers from a bug which affects being able to invite people from your friends list, and that hampers the overall experience, as borderlands is a heavily cooperative game.
The world of pandora will seem very lonely without a few other players to help you through it. This is problematic, as stated with the issues above. It's playable in singleplayer, but do you really want to slog through the entire game without anyone to shoot stuff with?
Graphically, the game won't disappoint. It's got a lovely cell-shaded comic-y style that pretty much anyone can enjoy. If you think this'd tone down the violence to the game, you're wrong - Heads roll, skag bits fly, and you'll be electrifying people out of their skin.
You'll occasionally notice a few visual glitches, blurry textures and poor animation (find Scooter in New Haven. You'll know his creepy, inanimate face when you see it.) but it can be looked over to an extent. I've got an odd glitch on my widescreen monitor which seems to stretch past the model for the combat rifles. There's an odd gap between character's arms and the screen. I'll post a screenshot of it later. I'm hoping gearbox will patch it, it's surprisingly distracting.
The sound design, also, does not disappoint. There's the usual variety of boom, rat-a-tat-a-tat, kchunk kchunk kchunk, ka-pow and others which all make a good amount of the weapons sound appropriately beefy. It's all supported by some solid voice work and good music. The voice work is downright hilarious, especially with the psychos and other bandits. One thing I always love is Brick's maniacal giggling. The music is all done very well, and there's not much else to say about it. It'll change into a more actiony track when you're fighting a large group of enemies which is a nice detail.
Borderlands, with all it's 17.5 million different guns, is a very fun game. You'll definitely need some friends in order to have some lasting fun with it, however.
Presentation - 7.0
Gameplay - 8.7
Graphics - 8.5
Sound - 8.5
Overall - 8.7