"Borderlands" for PC has finally arrived. This game is playable as a single person, or as a 2-4 person multi-player, which includes 4 player co-op.
About the game:
The game has a very cartoonish quality to it; very obvious at first but you quickly become use to it, to the point of not even noticing it. In fact it really seems to add to the mood for the setting of this game.
This is first and foremost a FPS but has RPG like upgrades (now termed a RPS or role playing shooter) to the different skills of the 4 different characters. Like traditional RPG you have story driven goals as well as many side quests; quests that present your characters for possible significant rewards in the form of money, weapons, upgrade points etc, but at the risk of greater danger.
You get to choose between (and keep) one of 4 characters; you then proceed to develop that player's skills; skills that are kept over from one game to the next, even in CO-OP. The carry-over also applies to any weapons, shields, armor etc. found within the game. Nice!
The four characters that are available to play are:
1.) Lilith, who specializes in incendiary, shock and corrosive attacks. Her unique skill is 'Phasewalk'.(invisibility).
2.) Mordecai, who specializes in sniper rifles and revolvers. His unique skill is 'Bloodwing' in which he can send out 'birds' to attack enemies for him.
3.) Roland, who specializes in combat rifles and shotguns. His unique skill is 'Scorpio Turret'; a portable machine gun turret with shield. Roland is also the 'medic' for the group.
4.) Brick, who specializes in explosives and fist. His unique skill in 'Berserk'.
Of course all the above 'unique' skills are time limited and require a cool-down period before reuse can occur.
In addition all players earn points to increase their skill tree (which tend to automatically level up somewhat as player level increase). This includes, to mention a few, such things as in damage inflicted, resistance to damage, health regeneration, increasing rate of fire, reload time and weapon ammo capacity and many more; some skill tree enhancements are related to the particular individual and his/her 'unique' skill.
As well there is a significant vehicular component to this game, giving you the opportunity to show your driving prowess, either alone or as either driver/weapon user.
GAME PLAY: SINGLE PLAYER...
Initially, I was very disappointed with the game; the cartoonish quality, the very irritating and repetitive dialogue from the robot (Claptrap), the fighting, etc. The overall effect was less that I imagined, considering all the hype.
However, once I got to level 5 and started to earn XP points that I could apply to my skills, thing improved significantly. I started to meet some better opponents and also began to find some very interesting and powerful weapons.
Also, seeing the hit points fly off enemies as you hit them with gun fire and watching their life bar disappear is a real rush. Making it to the next level and getting points to increase your 'skills' was also a very rewarding part of the game. These were the aspects that made this game a very good FPS with RPG qualities.
Almost no two weapons are the same; most have some benefit and drawback,(increase damage but slow reload time) etc. BUT there are some weapons out there that real gems; having almost all strong positive attributes and few or no drawbacks. And that is what, along with the XP upgrades, make the game SO interesting.
Shops, random chests and hidden caches can, at times, provide exceedingly rare and powerful weapons and add-on modules.
Another nice bonus is the fact that you can RESET your skill points (with some minor costs) allowing you to 'respend' your XPs, if you've chosen unwisely the first time. This is a great feature.
Negatives for Single Player
1.)Game becomes quite repetitious as you go along, especially as you advance in skills/weapons.
2.)Respawns are from the same place, with the same 'enemies' every time.
GAME PLAY: CO-OP (ON-LINE):
From a team orientated co-op point of view, well in a word...disappointing!
Through GAMESPY...initially I had difficulty just trying to get connected but lately I've been able to join on-line games fairly easily, however these are with random players...these games were basically undisciplined and chaotic. There was little or no concept of 'team' play, nor did I have any control over choice of missions, where we traveled to, etc.
I was NEVER able to set up a private game with my friends. And I now understand this is because I didn't have the correct 'ports' open on my computer to allow people to join a game I hosted...you'd have thought there would have been some explanation or instructions regarding this...but no, nothing!
Through LAN...have never been able to connect with anyone.
SUGGESTION REGARDING ON-LINE PLAY:
HOWEVER, on-line is a great way to met tougher opponents and level up more quickly. Do this by HOSTING an on-line game, (name it whatever you like and then save it, so then you'll be able to play this game on-line whenever you want). If you have the right 'ports' open you may get other players to join you...if not, then just play like you would single person, but reap the rewards of better loot, XPs etc. While 'hosting' you control where and what missions to accept, where to travel etc.
I'm really liking the Single player game a lot more than I thought I would; after play co-op L4D for months I didn't think I every say that again about single person.
With regard to on-line co-op play: well it's too bad they didn't use 'Steam'. The on-line play through STEAM is so well set up; easy to connect and simple to invite 'friends' to a private game.
The 4 player co-op, may turn out to be a great game, if you can set it up with your own team. And while the co-op game features harder opponents, it also brings to light the crucial downfall of the multiplayer game (and in fact, the single game as well), that being, THE LACK OF RANDOM SPAWNING OF ENEMIES (a feature that has made L4D so playable game after game). The same enemies spawn at the same spot, every time through. If anything, this game has made me realize just how unique and well constructed the L4D format of co-op gameplay really is.
The 'carryover' of improvements and skills from one game to the next, it's easy to see a co-op team (with the same 4 players) could very quickly became a formidable group.
And finally, some minor annoyances:
1.) There appears to be no way to get rid of (or by-pass) the half dozen or so flash screens at the launch of the game,. Spacebar, enter, or Esc. does nothing to abort this tedious repetition every time you start up.
2.) The mapping system; when you turn on the map (and you'll use it often as the layout is somewhat confusing) always start with a close up shot of where you are. The problem is that your target (waypoint) is usually off the map, requiring you to zoom-out to find it. This occurs with EVERY visit to the map, even seconds apart.
To me, there was that compelling quality to "Borderlands" style of play initially for the SINGLE PLAYER game, however this was not enough to prevent it from becoming quite repetitious and even boring towards the end.
The on-line co-op game...so far unable to set up with friends to have a team oriented game. Whether the co-op on-line play will prove popular...well, I've some doubts! Only time will tell.
However playing on-line by hosting a game is a great why to speed up your results.
1.)Single player...2 1/2
2.)On-Line Co-op...1 1/2 Stars (maybe even less)
R. Nicholson (cujo)
A MANUAL is now available on the STEAM web site.