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Customer Review

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Level grinding never felt so good., October 22, 2009
This review is from: Borderlands - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
Borderlands is a synthesis of first-person shooter (FPS) and the popular massively multi-player online RPGs (MMORPG) games such as World of Warcraft or more aptly non-massively multi-player games such as Phantasy Star Online. The game is overly ambitious and makes a lot of boasts, such as a claim that there are hundreds of thousands of weapons. For the most part, the game succeeds and creates a satisfying and addictive experience best shared with friends.

+++ Emphasis on co-op play
+++ Gorgeous cell-shaded graphics
+++ Tons of different weapons
+++ Missions and quests look to be modeled after World of Warcraft. It is easy to tell what missions you have and what you have to do.
+++ Character customization options are abundant

--- A lot of the weapons, about 95%, are generic forgettable junk.
--- Vehicle controls are hypersensitive at best or a sloppy mess at worse.
--- The story line is fairly weak
--- The enemy designs get really repetitive after a while

GAMEPLAY: At its core Borderlands is a standard FPS with lots of guns. The emphasis on multi-player encourages up to 4 players to join forces and basically loot the place much in the way that Phantasy Star Online worked. You can choose a brute, a hunter/sniper, siren/assassin, or soldier. Each class has a specialty, but anyone can use any weapon. Characters gain ability points as they pass levels and also improve their skill with individual weapon types by using that type of weapon. Missions are nicely handled in a very World of Warcrafty sort of way. While I'm not a fan of WoW personally, the system works. Enemies in the game are randomly generated and sprouted from set spawn points. After you have played the game for a while, you'll know WHERE you'll find enemies, but you may not know exactly what variation of enemy you'll find. Ultimately, what drives the gameplay is the urge to build your character up and their quest for bigger and better loot. Yes, it is level grinding, but the level of action.

PRESENTATION: Amazing, but it could use a few improvements. On the good side, the game is stylish and slick with a Fallout/Mad Max feel neatly put together with some of the nicest cell-shaded graphics I've seen in a long time. Menus work nicely and setting up a multi-player match with friends is a snap. The game's HUD works nicely and gives you almost all of the information you need, but an onscreen mini-map feature is noticeably missing. Instead you must open a menu system to access a map. The other issue is the lack of variety of enemies, which fall into a few small groups. There is fair amount of variation in the strength and abilities of individual enemies within those groups, but you'll mostly find yourself battling Skaggs (dog-like critters) and bandits.

GRAPHICS: Gorgeous. The cell-shaded graphical design works nicely and the representation of the blasted wasteland is almost as good as Fallout 3.

CONTROLS: The controls are tight and responsive. The auto-assist feature that helps keep enemies in your sights is subtle and doesn't hold your hand too much. My only complaint about the game controls is focused on the vehicle controls, which are acceptable when you're in open spaces, but navigating any tight environment with obstacles is a profanity inducing chore. My friends and I have accidentally Austin-Powered so many vehicles it stopped being funny and just angers us now. The problem is that the camera position determines your driving direction and the left stick only handles your acceleration. At higher speeds the controls work better and the vehicle responds more predictably, but navigating slowly and carefully degrades into an awkward experience at best. Luckily, vehicular combat is only a small portion of the game.

AUDIO: The music in the game is good, although not particularly noteworthy. The gun sounds are standard fair and the voice acting isn't bad. The little quips and insults tossed out by the enemies get old after a while, but this is the case with most games where common enemies are allowed to speak.

VALUE: This game is big with tons of missions. Many players will probably feel compelled to max out at least one character of each of the four classes. I understand the level cap is 50, and I wouldn't be surprised if future downloadable packages raise that level cap by another 10 or 20 levels along with new zones, levels and missions. I fully expect to get at least 30-50 hours of gameplay out of this title, quite possibly more.

Overall, this is a very strong game with only a few flaws. I recommend Borderlands on any platform, but especially to any FPS fan that wants something slightly different from the standard Halo and Call of Duty fare that is so popular. Fans of online RPG titles such as WoW and Phantasy Star Online may also enjoy this game. The emphasis on multi-player co-op puts this game in good company with Halo: ODST and Left 4 Dead, so fans of those games should definitely consider this title.
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Location: Casper, Wyoming United States

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