Five – Borderlands

Publisher: 2K Games
UK Price: £17.99 (incl. VAT)
US Price: $44.99 (excl. Tax) Score: 8 out of 10

In the run-up to release we’ll admit to being quite apprehensive about how Borderlands might turn out as, despite 2K’s big marketing push, Gearbox’s cel-shaded shooter felt as if it were just a little bit confused. The art-style had undergone a radical change from gritty realism to cartoony exaggeration quite late in development, while the pitch of “Halo meets Diablo but with a billion guns” sounded hollow and crass enough to raise our eyebrows.

So, we were pleasantly surprised when Borderlands eventually landed and turned out to be not just good, but pretty damned great. Rather than a poorly conceived blend of big-name-games that investors likely hoped would resonate with the console market, Gearbox managed to create an identity which was distinct from either Halo or Diablo while still harking back to both.

*Top 10 Games of The Year 2009 Fifth Best Game of 2009
Borderlands - 5th Place

Much of Borderlands’ freshness comes from the black humour and semi-seriousness that runs through the core of the game like a vein of awesome juice. Players can explore the alien world with relative freedom, provided they can fend off the waves of Burning Psycho Badass Midgets – a task made easier thanks to the extensive, crazy arsenal at your disposal. Pistols that shoot exploding bullets and grenades that teleport behind enemies are just for starters…

Borderlands isn’t just big and bold though, it’s also lewd and crude, with a cast of foul-mouthed hillbillys and bandits that weave some comic relief into the game – which is important for a game where story plays a surprisingly minimal role.

The basic premise of the plot is that you’ve come to the desert planet Pandora in search of a mythical treasure vault that holds limitless riches in the form of alien technology. Sure enough, when you start the game a woman contacts you and says that she’ll show you the vault – but first you have to do a bunch of fetch quests and errands for her. It’s these mini-quests which actually make up the bulk of the game and the result is that you often forget about the vault completely.

Still, if you ever find the game getting a bit aimless then you can always turn to a friend for help – Borderlands supports full-on co-op for anything up to four players, with both the difficulty and rewards escalating to match the size of your team. There really is nothing better than you and three buddies grouping up to tackle one of Borderlands’ huge bosses, like overgrown monster Skagzilla. Fun times for all the family!
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October 14 2021 | 15:04