Review: Borderlands

Gearbox Software adds another excellent title to the First-Person Shooter genre with the recent release of Borderlands.

Borderlands SS 1
I imagine this is what it's like driving around Oliver's house.

Borderlands takes place in the far future on the planet Pandora, long since abandoned by its settlers, and now just a haven for criminals and castaways.  The player fills the shoes of one of these castaways, all with a special ability: a former solider who can throw out a turret gun, a hunter with a trained hawk, a female assassin with the ability to become invisible, and a hulking brute who can go into a bloodlust rage.  The player is tasked with finding a mysterious vault, rumored by the inhabitants of Pandora to be full of treasure.

The gameplay is quest driven, with each main story quest leading the player closer and closer to the vault, and with side quests to help the player gain experience in between.  Killing enemies, such as hostile wildlife and bandits, also gains the player experience.  Much like in most Role-Playing Games, this experience is used to help the player get stronger and gain levels.  With each level the player can also add a special point to his or her skill tree, which will upgrade the damage dealt, decrease damage taken, or upgrade the character’s special ability.

The presentation and shooting elements of the game make it stand out among some of the other FPS’ out now.  The background information on characters is scarce, allowing the player to make his or her own assumptions.  The already worn down feel of Pandora is made even more so with the inclusion of rare encounters with friendly NPCs, towns with buildings that look like they are made out of random sheets of metal, and mountains of garbage at every turn.  The whole game has a Mad Max feel to it, and humor to go along with.  Gearbox is known for their ability to make good shooters, and the shooting is just as tight and well done as most other recent FPS’.

Borderlands SS 2
I'd make some joke about Oliver observing his next dinner, but in real life no girl who looks like that could ever get that close to him without puking.

There are only a couple negative parts to the game, and they are more design flaws than anything else.  The game lacks the ability to have multiple quest icons on the player’s map at once.  While this may not seem like a big deal at first, it gets to be a bit annoying when completing one quest leads the player to discover that an objective to another quest is close to another quest objective the player just finished.  Some of the environments are quite large, and traversing across them multiple times can become quite time consuming.  Another design flaw is the lack of accuracy of some of the quest icons on the player’s map.  A few of them claim to be in the exact area where the player is currently standing, only to be found a few yards away away, with the quest icon clearly showing it in the previous spot.  However, this most likely can be easily fixed by a simple patch to the game.

Borderlands is an excellent game for anyone looking for a good FPS/RPG hybrid.  The shooting and presentation of the game are excellent, rivaling that of some of the best FPS’ ever.  The addition of over three million guns adds to this, and makes the player play with the new “toy” over and over again.  While there are a couple design flaws, they should not turn away any interested players and are overshadowed by how good the rest of the game actually is.


  1. design flaw #1: It forces you to play multiplayer, which does not bother me. What bothers me is I have to pay extra for it on fucking X-box the only company who charges people an additional fee to use their online play functionality.

  2. Oh … thanks, I was thinking of getting it for the local multiplayer (for when friends come over), but I’m not so interested in games that compromise their single player campaigns …

  3. Wait, what? I’ve got a single-player guy at level 25-ish and I’m playing through fine, I’d even say the game’s a little on the easy side if you want to get critical. I also know friends of friends who’ve finished the game solo. Which part are you getting stuck on?

  4. So far my biggest complaint about Borderlands is just that it starts out pretty slow, especially for the first 5 levels before you get your class’s ability. That might have something to do with the fact that I’ve played it about 5-6 times at this point with different groups of people.

  5. Oh yeah, one other word of caution to anybody looking to get this: back up your save game. There’s a glitch that can corrupt your save file. I’ve only seen it happen when playing on XBL, but I’m not sure if it’s possible on other networks, also. It’ll wipe out all your ability points, but it doesn’t drop your character’s level, so the special ability isn’t nearly as powerful as it should be for the rest of the game. I saw it happen to my friend, and he pretty much just ended up scrapping that character.

  6. @Underdog and NooB: I beat the game at level 33 and I never once played with another person or thought I needed to.

  7. So far my biggest complaint about Borderlands is just that it starts out pretty slow, especially for the first 5 levels before you get your class’s ability.

    I completely agree with darthgibblet here. Class ability and weapons with different ammunition helped increase the enjoyability of the single-player game immensely. (I’m a level 10 Hunter playing single-player currently.)

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