Borderlands aka Bored-erlands

3 12 2009

The Clap-Trap Robot

For the last few weeks I’ve been playing Borderlands, by Gearbox Software.  The game is set on the planet Pandora, a dirtball of a place over-run by bandits and vicious creatures who all seem to want to kill you for no apparent reason.  The player chooses from one of four standard gaming classes, the Soldier, Hunter, Siren, and Berserker.  The four classes have a special talent that they can learn once the player increases a few levels.   The main draw card for the game, at least the most promoted part of the game, is the millions of combinations of guns you can find as you explore the land and shoot the bad guys.

Let me put that straight… There’s hardly millions.  There’s maybe a few dozen at best.  The guns are broken down into a few types of revolvers, machine guns, sniper rifles and rocket launchers.  Where the ‘millions of guns’ part comes in is that each part of every gun is randomised.  You get different damage types, amounts and names that are created when each item is dropped by an enemy.  So yeah, you get different guns but really they’re just slight modifications of a basic few.

The player embarks on missions given to him by the various static NPCs who inhabit the land, and involve tasks like “Go here and talk to So-and-So” or “Go here and press this button”.  Typical RPG missions very similar to World of Warcraft and everything that came before.   There’s really nothing new here as far as gaming goes. Eventually a ‘main mission’ shows up, in which you are tasked with finding a hidden vault, which only opens every 200 years.  You’re led around by a mysterious hologram woman who looks like she’s making a hair spray commercial, and a crazy scientist who is having an affair with her tape recorder.  Seriously.  Actually the tape messages are the best part of the game. I laughed out loud at a few.  The only other remarkable characters are the little robots called Claptraps, who end up always getting shot so that you have to repair them.  They were cute at first but gave me the shits after a while.  Sadly you can’t shoot them yourself.

The scenery is nice to look at, if a bit bland in colour and environments.  Pandora is made up of maybe 20 different sectors that are all a drab brown.  The towns are littered with post-apocalyptic crap, and the NPCs just all stand around doing nothing.   The areas are large, but there’s a handy ‘create a car’ system that gets over that hurdle.

So far this review has been pretty negative, and I guess that’s not really fair.   Borderlands kept me playing until I completed the main mission, and I’m going through the motions of a second play through to get up to the maximum level 50.  Why? Who knows?   The art style is great and it’s worth a play through just for those tapes I mentioned earlier.  Whoever made those up is hilarious.

Sadly though, what could have been great is just so-so.   Too few monster varieties and too few interesting missions and areas make Borderlands feel as though it’s doing work.  If you’ve every played World of Warcraft and hit the point where you wonder why you’re still playing, you’ll know what I mean.   It’s fun for something to do, but that’s about it.

Oh, I haven’t mentioned co-op or multi-player because I don’t play those.




One response

4 12 2009

Ah… the feel of the grind!


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