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Vitals//Systems: Xbox 360, PS3 and PC//Release date: October 20th, 2009//Players: 1-4 online, 1-4 system link, 1-2 split-screen//Genre: RPS (Role-Playing Shooter)//Developer: Gearbox Software//Publisher: 2K Games//

“Bazillions of guns: Gun lust fulfilled with rocket-launching shotguns, enemy-torching revolvers, SMGs that fire lighting rounds and tons more.” – Taken right from the back of the Borderlands box. Hell, if that does not get your attention I don’t think you should be playing video games; trade your system in now and get a Wii. With four character classes, vehicles, plethora of weapons and a level cap of 50, this might just be one of the best games this year.

If you are like me and thought Fallout 3’s combat was just too slow and thought the excitement had left the game as you loaded it up, Borderlands may be your saviour. Imagine Fallout 3 and Diablo having a baby, well you should not have to think to hard because Borderlands is what you would get. Take the first person perspective gameplay and post-apocalyptic atmosphere from Fallout, and combine that with the insane amount of loot and multiplayer experience from Diablo and bam! – Ladies and gentlemen we have a game that is more fun than a basket of grenades.

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The fun starts with selecting one of the four characters – Siren, Berserker, Hunter or Solider. Each class has three different skill trees to allocate your skill points into and each class has a unique class ability. Every time you level up you earn a skill point. With a max level of 50 you are given some playroom with the skill trees, and also note that it is fairly cheap to reset your skill points so you are encourage to try different combinations.

Once you have chosen your character you set off on a journey to find the Vault. Supposedly the Vault will make you wealthy, grant you power, women and advanced alien technology. A Cortona type women appears on screen claiming to be your guardian angel who is to help guide you to the Vault. After your guardian angel speaks with you, you will meet with a few other characters who are full of personality and attitude – which is something this game has right from the opening cinematic. The only problem is there are only a handful of these interesting and humorous characters. Other than a few bosses after you leave the first town you will not encounter cutscenes or be introduced to anyone worth your time. Near the end of the game the story begins to pick up again but it is too little too late. The game tries to have large roles for characters you know too little about. There is no way you can feel anything for someone you have only met over the echo device you are given (a communicator of sorts).

The story is the weakest point of the game by far and seems to be there just as an excuse to wonder around the beautiful world blowing baddies up! The strongest point about the game are the weapons. There are so many items in this game it’s crazy! You will never be able to collect or even see all the items the game has to offer in one play-through. Guns feel responsive, sound crisp and every gun has it’s own weight to it. It certainly is a pleasure the first time you find a shotgun that shoots rockets for the first time, even the 15th time it is still as exciting. The thing about Borderlands is no matter how many times you kill a boss type character and plunder their weapons cache or wonder off and find a hidden weapons cache, opening it up for the first time will still be exciting as it is the 100th time. You never know what kind of weapons will turn up, and being able to equip up to 4 weapons and switching between them with the d-pad you will have trouble choosing just 4 to have at the ready.

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One of the first things you will notice about the game is the unique comic/cell shaded graphic style Gearbox has implemented. Other than a little graphical pop-in and blurry details on a few objects, Borderlands is drop dead gorgeous. The world is fairly large and is a open world to explore at your leisure. It would have been helpful if Gearbox had designed a mini-map or even a world map to help navigate around the world of Pandora as it is quite expansive. By holding down the back button you are able to open up the area map, your waypoint will always be marked on the map showing you where to go for your current mission. Travelling between areas is easy enough with the help of vehicles and the fast travel system.

Borderlands tries to shine with it’s multiplayer but falls just a tad short of the goal line. The game can be played with up to 3 other friends via the internet or system link and 2 people using split-screen. More players in the game means tougher enemies and that means more and better loot. Items are on a free-for-all system and there is no way to change it, so make sure you are playing with buddies. Make sure you and all your friends are around the same level as the game can become extremely difficult for someone who is even 2 or 3 levels below everyone else. That said, when you play with your friends who are all around the same level it will be hard to find another game that does cooperative run and gun gameplay as well as Borderlands.

Summary:

Graphics: The unique graphic design works well with the attitude of the game and definitely is something you will remember. 9/10

Sound: Guns sound crisp and rewarding, the soundtrack is brilliant and even character chatter will give you a chuckle. 10/10

Gameplay: It is about damn time we have a killing and looting game as fun as Diablo 2. Story is weak and falls off early on. Strong attitude and humour are a fresh slate for the fps genre, but also like the story both trail off early on in the game. Multiplayer can be a hit or miss. 7.5/10

Lasting Appeal: The run and gun, killing and looting gameplay style is perfect for multiple play-throughs. With different classes, level cap of 50, online multiplayer and DLC on the way, expect to be playing Borderlands for a while. 9/10

Borderlands = 8.9/10