Monday, December 7, 2009

Borderlands - Polished, Playable, Perfect

Borderlands is a real gem in the bustling Fall 2009 videogame release schedule. It's a first-person shooter with some light role-playing elements, gorgeous cell-shaded graphics, and character and style in droves.

Players pick from one of four character classes, each with different skills and abilities to develop. Cast onto the desolate and largely abandoned world of Pandora, a long quest unfolds amid the carnage, character development, and showers of loot that the player experiences. The rocky, barren landscape is dotted with human settlements and scrapyards, inhabited with strange critters, bands of hostile rogues, and really cool robots called Claptraps.

The world is divided into many zones, most of them fairly large, but easily accessable vehicles and teleporters make travel a snap. There are plenty of side missions that take the player into these areas, and a crude map feature makes finding your quest's destination also hassle - free. Everything that is done floods the player with loot, loot, and more loot, and a lot of time has to be spent in sub-screens comparing weapons and other items. All of these screens are well designed and accessable, and in no time the player will be zipping in and out of them with deft navigation.

Graphically gorgeous and stylistic, Borderlands looks good and moves fast. The story is light, but the missions are varied and numerous, and the characters you meet along the way are wacky and good, clean fun. There are some great pop-culture references in there, too.

Polished and playable, Borderlands is a top-notch FPS with just the right amount of RPG tossed into the mix. There's lots of loot and exploration to complement the endless action. And the first downloadable expansion, The Island of Dr. Ned, offers even more fun. It's one of those games where the player is compelled to do every side quest just to keep it from ending. Yes, Borderlands is that damn good, and I suspect that a lot of us who enjoyed it are hoping it gets a sequel.

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