Borderlands is definitely better for shooter fans interested in RPGs, rather than RPG fans looking for more action.
Posted by Alex V (SpectralShock) on Nov 18, 2009 - 12:40am EST (Nov 18, 2009 00:40)
Borderlands is a science fiction first person shooter that has a heavy RPG side to it. It was developed by Gearbox Software, primarily known for their Brothers in Arms series in recent years. While this may seem like an odd mix of genres, a hardcore shooter and an RPG, the game pulls it off quite well. Though be warned, this is definitely better for shooter fans interested in RPGs, rather than RPG fans looking for more action. The standard gameplay consists of shooting things, a lot, all while leveling up your character and continuously upgrading to better weapons, guns, and personal skills which help you progress through the game and into the tough new areas. Borderlands is an open-world game, but it rarely suffers from the boredom factor that many FPS fans may start to experience if they are left to walk for miles with nothing to do (see Far Cry 2’s “my jeep just exploded and I’m miles away from an outpost”). In fact, the game is quite full of action considering the amount of time you need to travel between areas, which means that you level up quickly enough so that there is no grind, it feels just right. This means your equipment purchases are actually worth the money, which is hard to come by at first, and you won’t need to get a new gun with each level. So, shooter fans looking for an RPG fix, read on!
One of the things that comes off rather tacked-on and weak in the game is the main overarching storyline. Sure, you do not expect it to live up to epic RPG standards, but to be honest it doesn’t even sound that good compared to your mainstream shoot-em-up. You start off selecting one of four characters, but each one’s story is rather minimal and has no relevance to the rest of the game. There is some talk about a secret Vault that you wish to find, says to contain unimaginable treasures, which has been lost for over 200 years. Sounds promising at first, but once you realize how many side-quests and characters stand between you and even finding the Vault, let alone opening it, you tend to forget about the main goal during the game. Oh, and there’s Aliens. With hundreds of quests in the game, only about 20% of them are relevant to the main story. The rest are simply additional tasks that push you to explore deeper into the world, level up and see the great visuals. To that end, I can honestly say that I rarely read the background or story that accompanied the side quests, but I still enjoyed hearing that congratulatory cheer and experience clicker when you turn in 2 or 3 side quests at a time after clearing a whole area. There is also that mysterious pale girl that appears as soon as you begin the game, and attempts to guide you to the Vault. She actually tries to come across as demanding, but it doesn’t really work because you end up doing the storyline for your own sake (as originally planned anyway), so she is just there to keep congratulating you on the progress and encouraging you onwards. Another thing that bothered me about the story is the supposed competition to find the Vault and gain entry – you never actually see a friendly or neutral NPC that actually moves in the world, everything is very static and feeling empty at times. It is practically you versus the enemies with hints to the Vault’s location, so there is not much else to do other than collect the intel and move on. The ending is not overly climatic, and I have had more fun with boss fights during the length of the campaign.