Good if not a little drab,
This review is from: Borderlands (PC DVD) (DVD-ROM)
During the week of Borderland's release I heard a lot of joy and revelation coming from my friends after having purchased this game. I seem to remember it came out at around the same time as Dragon Age, having only enough money for one and after much deliberation I came to the decision that Dragon Age would be more worth my money. I was right!
I got Borderlands cheap half a year later. I guess it is perhaps a little unfair to make comparisons with Dragon Age, a game that is from a different genre, however I'm not finding it stands up to other titles that could be considered similar either. I seem to remember hearing a lot of claims from people stating that Borderlands was revolutionary because it combined shooter elements with role-playing style game play. This left me confused as I'm sure this isn't a unique formula; Fallout 3, Killing Floor, Hellgate and Mass Effect. The last one in the list happens to be one of my favourite games, so Borderlands had a lot to live up to.
As someone who has obsessed over both FPS's and RPG's at some point, the combination of the two is a very promising idea. I like the shooter side to Borderlands. Despite the fact that I'm usually an SMG fan, I found myself mostly using the sniper rifles, which in this game I find to be quite exemplary and fun to use due to how fast you can switch your scope in and out. Unfortunately the RPG side of it tends to pop its ugly head out and leaves you feeling frustrated and annoyed. The problem is that having a level of accuracy when sniping tends to cause you to miss a lot despite spending the time to get your aim dead on target. I was often left with the feeling that I was kind of useless on the team due to the fact that I wasn't able to hit much at times; even when I did manage to hit, the damage wasn't significant enough compared to the effort of getting the bullet to its target in the first place. I could move in closer and that tended to help me hit better, but doesn't this defy the entire point of being a sniper? I also got to use Bloodwing (a bird that goes around attacking your foes), which is a nice addition, but it often gets stuck on the scenery and doesn't do anything.
Although it's possible to overlook parts of the system as it is still quite enjoyable to use, there is another major drawback to the game, and that is the story and the side quests. After an hour or two of single player game-play I found my attention was already starting to dwindle due to boredom. The quests just aren't that interesting and feel a bit like what you would find in most MMORPG's; go there, collect this, kill so many of this. In a massive multiplayer universe it's forgivable because the ambition to become the strongest and collect experience overshadows the repetitive game-play, but in a four player game like Borderlands it isn't really a good idea to copy this kind of structure. (Hellgate also had the same boring sorts of task, but I did like the character development system more.) Adding another player made the experience more fun for a little while longer, but the same feeling of slogging through still came back to me after a few more hours. It also doesn't help that the scenery can get pretty drab and repetitive after a while despite being a cell-shaded game (although I am a fan of the graphics.)
Multiplayer is another area which I don't feel works too well in this game, despite the fact that it was the main focus for it. The problem occurs when your levels vary too much. Going with a higher level can help lower levels get experience faster (a concept I'm not particularly a fan of), but often for the lower level it's just like being strung along and that can ruin the experience. Seeing you're companions nabbing all the best guns also leaves you feeling pretty cold.
I'm also not a very big fan of the Claptrap character as it feels a little contrived like they're trying too hard to make them likeable and a tad cutesy. For me personally I find them to be really grating, as they continue to repeat the same lines over and over in that annoying voice "look at me I'm dancing." *shudders*
In conclusion, it's not an appalling game, but it does lack in both game-play mechanics and story line. For its current price (£12.00) tag it's probably worth the money, but doesn't live up to what I was expecting it to be. Most of my other friends on the other hand seemed to love it.