Gearbox have been touting this game as something of a new thing, a new genre and to some degree - I guess it is. I would however describe it more as a mesh of a lot of different genres rolled into one. There are of course a lot of ways to really mess this 'meshing' process up but I'm happy to report that - for the most part - Borderlands is a well polished and fun experience.
I'll quickly get the negatives out of the way -
- You more than likely will not care about the storyline as the main questline is fairly poor and lacking depth and side missions quickly become a way to get cool new weaponry and experience points rather than a deep, involving experience.
- Mission/Quest variety isn't fantastic but certainly not dire by any stretch. If you have played an MMO, you will know how things work immediately (go there, kill 10 of those, come back and get reward etc. etc.)
- The split-screen interface isn't scaled properly and you will have to aim around your screen to see the entire thing. An annoyance but certainly not a game-breaker.
- Some in-game achievements are bugged currently but nothing a quick patch won't fix.
and now with the positives -
+ Graphically this game is great. Some people won't 'get it' but it's very stylised. In the early gameplay videos it used to be another boring, brown, realistic-esque game but thankfully this new art direction is a real breath of fresh air.
+ Weapons: there have been all sorts of numbers posted around the internet... anywhere from 200,000 to 16,000,000. They aren't all drastically different. There are maybe 20 different weapon models but the point is, they all have different procedurally generated statistics (e.g. one pistol might fire really fast & have a large clip but have lower damage, whereas another might have a small clip but be more powerful & have a chance of doing fire damage). All the weapons are of different rarety and denoted by the colour of their name from white (common muck), to purple (rare) to orange (legendary).
+ Gunplay: Thankfully Gearbox have backed up the insane amount of weaponry with solid shooting mechanics. It's simply a lot fun to play and you won't get tired of finding new weaponry, comparing it with what you have and then killing more stuff. The combat is a lot of fun and CAN be surprisingly tactically diverse when in coop (although most of the time, you will simply opt to shoot something with the force of an angry god til it's motionless on the ground)
+ Coop (up to 4 players): Borderlands comes into its own when played with others and they've made it extremely accessible with the ability drop-in, drop-out as well as sharing experience, missions and money between everyone in the group. Be aware though that there is no roll system on dropped loot so if you're playing with strangers they could quite easily ninja all the good stuff and leave your game. Play with people you trust!
+ Character classes and skill trees: There are four classes in Borderlands and they've all been designed in a way that they can all survive in single player - in that they can all use ALL the weapons and as such if you choose to play single player as Mordecai (the sniper specialist) you won't find yourself in too much trouble if you have to fight close quarters as you can have a backup SMG/shotgun if you wish. Class diversity is instead created via skill trees, weapon specialisations and unique skills. Each character has a unique skill (i.e. Roland the soldier can deploy a turret and Mordecai, can use his pet bird to attack enemies). Skill trees are also present which allow you to customise your character everytime you level. You get one skill point to spend and as a pure example, you could put points into doing more damage with critical hits or adding the ability for your turret to shoot rockets and so on. With this customisation, its possible to compliment your teammates (should you have them) playstyles.
All in all, this is a great game both in single player and in coop but coop really is the way to go. I took one star off the review for the lack of depth to the storyline and meaning to side missions but it certainly won't affect the fun this game provides. There is a definite level of addictiveness to the game because you never know what you're going to find in the wastelands. Happy hunting!