|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Gearbox Software||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: 2K Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 20, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
In addition to looting and glove-slapping, players will also have to take on missions - adding purpose to their adventuring. As with any RPG, about half of the missions you'll take on are little more than ways to boost your character's stats. Still, many of the objectives are story-driven. In any case, goals are always challenging. If you want to test yourself and your party a bit more, you can always accept missions that have a challenge rating above the level of your group. While the mission structure is standard RPG fare, it is well implemented in Borderlands; you'll always have a lot to do with friends.
Shooting mechanics are sound. Players used to delivering headshots and teabags will find a lot to love in Borderlands. Weapons all control distinctly, and clearing out bandit warrens with lead and shrapnel is a joy. The only area I felt that needed work was the lack of a cover mechanic. It would have been great to find some sticky cover to snipe dudes with. As it stands, Borderlands is really a run and gun game best-suited to tank classes. Sure, I loved the lightning-fast pacing, but using a Siren or a Hunter should place more of an emphasis on stealth. Heck, even the Soldier should seek to use tactics to its advantage. Alas, pretty much everyone just has to run out in the open, guns-a-blazin'.
In terms of production values, Borderlands is top-notch as far as I'm concerned. The voice acting that is featured is of high quality; though don't expect every encounter to be voiced. In fact, voice work is somewhat sparse, but what's there is full of humor. Graphically, the game kicks ass. While I tend to prefer photo-realistic graphics in shooters, the hand-drawn (don't call me cel-shaded) look in Borderlands is perfect. It feels like you're battling your way through an anime - only cooler. The dusty, lived-in environments, the great character designs, and the rock-solid framerate makes this game a real looker.
I could go into so many more details about combat, customization, fast travel, vehicle joyriding, Second Wind, DNA Reanimation, the HUD, the maps, and inventory navigation, etc. However, why bore you with minutia? Simply know that Borderlands is a deep and engaging, RPG-shooter hybrid that needs to be played to be fully appreciated. Blending the best elements from games such as Fallout 3 and Diablo II, Gearbox and 2K Games have put together a real winner. Don't let it fall off your gaming radar this holiday season.
CCC Editor / News Director