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Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Gearbox Software
Style(s): First-Person Shooter
Borderlands is a far-out first-person shooting and driving game with a penchant for team-based tactics. The game is designed to be played cooperatively with up to four players, though it can be played solo as well. Set on a science fiction frontier planet where anarchy rules, the action-adventure casts the player as a mercenary character of one of four basic types: A well-rounded soldier skilled with weapons and vehicles, a hulking berserker specialized in heavy weapons and up-close melee combat, a stealthy siren with the power to disable enemies and vanish from view, and a sniping-specialist hunter with a pet hawk that helps in battle. The characters have complementing strengths and weaknesses, so in campaign missions as well as in pick-up battles, there are advantages for different character types that work together as a balanced team.
In the main campaign, players fight through rewarding missions in the wilds of the desolate planet, engaging in high-speed vehicular battles and small-squad combat through sophisticated settings in which solid recon and tactical planning win the day. Characters gain experience and level up, with customizable ability improvements as in a traditional role-playing game. With interchangeable parts, thousands and thousands of different possible weapons are available in Borderlands, and a character's proficiency and accuracy chances rise with repeated use of a certain weapon type. Resources such as ammunition and cash are shared among the squad, but the weapons and armor pieces that drop from fallen enemies may be up for grabs. In some multiplayer modes, characters on the same team can duel one another for the right to claim gear from a slain monster.
Designed for play on Internet-connected consoles and computers, the game features multiplayer combat with the four basic character archetypes in quick, online pick-up games. The high-def art style portrays eccentrically geared, slightly exaggerated human forms, in a land of rich, gritty textures, with a hint of an outline drawn around people and objects, for the appearance of a graphic novel come to life. Borderlands was developed by Gearbox Software, the studio behind the Brothers in Arms World War II games, acclaimed for their realistic portrayal of squad combat and historical accuracy of weapons and vehicles in fine detail. ~ T.J. Deci, All Game Guide
Package Contents: 24-page Instruction Manual
Borderlands is an action RPG with an off-kilter attitude and a reckless disregard for genre conventions that you can't help but smile while playing. First, the game ditches the traditional isometric perspective for a first-person one, bringing you up close and personal to the action. Second, it drops melee weapons for guns. Not just a few guns, mind you, but randomly generated guns that can offer several dramatic effects, from fire and lightning to rockets and lasers. Third, it features a beautifully deranged art style, one that opts for stylized cel-shading instead of gritty realism.
The setting can best be described as Mad Max meets Fallout. Crazed, homicidal punks, feral beasts, giant insects, and other enemies roam the arid areas or stand guard in ramshackle compounds and hideouts. You'll play as one of four mercenaries, each sent to the planet with the hopes of finding some lost treasure. The story in Borderlands is not exactly its main selling point, so those expecting a rich narrative or strong characterization will not appreciate the game's sketchy plot and often clichéd quests.
Instead, the entertainment value is derived from the "shoot and loot" mechanics. You'll travel on foot or in an armored dune buggy to various places in the desert, blast everything that moves, and then grab whatever is dropped to enhance your character. Each mercenary is essentially a class type, from the sniper Mordecai, who has an attack bird at his command, to the stealthy, speedy Lillith, who can use invisibility to sneak up on opponents. True to the genre, you'll earn experience points for every kill, allowing you to increase in level and receive skill points to spend however you wish.
You'll also be able to become proficient in specific weapons the more you use them, which translates into more damage with each hit. The action is quite enthralling, with swarms of psychotic enemies to defeat, and you'll be able to share in the mayhem with up to three other mercenaries online. Still, as entertaining as Borderlands is, it's not for everyone.
Solo players will find the missions to be banal and repetitive, and the allure is in receiving shiny new weapons rather than following a richly developed story. The world itself is also rather bland, with huge swaths of sparse terrain and little incentive to explore. If you enjoy seeking out new adventures from traveling, there's nothing really to see here to spark your interest. Yet if you're looking for a shooter with a sense of humor, a role-playing game that offers a different style of action than you're used to, or a frantic co-op experience for four, Borderlands should be considered a high-value target on your play list. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
the game requires Joystick/Gamepad.