nate_is_my_fake_name's Borderlands (PC) review

Forty hours of fun...

 ...with a completely ridiculous (or rather, a complete lack of) end payoff. 

The opening of the game sets a mood that is not carried out throughout the game. Early on, the game treats you to small cutscenes to introduce characters and bosses, but after the first few characters you meet, it does away with this, and from then on you're simply introduced to bosses with a small scene that shows their name in big letters. It's catchy, but it could've been a lot more.

The graphics are taste-dependent, but there were some issues that I had, namely with what appeared to be screen tearing, especially while using vending machines. Other than that, the graphics look amazing when turned up high enough, and if comic book panels moved, this is what they would look like.

The combat is very engaging and satisfying. The different weapons (at last count, the developer said there were something like 17.5 million possible) are, of course, mostly crap and merchant-fodder. However, every now and then, you find a REALLY nice gun. I found it best to keep a couple different damage types in my inventory: mainly shock and corrosive (which is the best kind to use against late-game enemies). While the weapon drops are randomly generated, bosses (who re-spawn upon re-entering the area or game) will always drop the same weapon. Keep in mind that their weapons are not necessarily better than the ones you may already have. When fighting higher level or very tough enemies, it's a good thing to know where their critical areas are. Scoring a few crits can mean the difference between wasting a whole magazine on an enemy, or just a few rounds, and therefore between death and victory.

That brings me to the subject of death: I have never played a game in which death is more exciting or satisfying when it doesn't happen. Upon "dying" you fall to a knee and are able to continue fighting while a health bar depletes. If it finishes, you re-spawn at a New-U station (for an automatic fee) and any boss you were fighting is restored to full health, which is simultaneously annoying and challenging, but both in a very good way. If you score a kill, however, which gets harder to do as your screen goes black, you get a Second Wind!, hop to your feet at partial health and full shields, and continue fighting. You can also remap your skills for a very small fee, and do it many times, which is useful for testing new strategies and skill sets.

Missions are the average RPG fare--fetch this, kill this, kill he who has that item you must get to go on with the story...which brings me to the most disappointing part of this otherwise great game: the ending.

I understand being set up for a sequel, but I don't think I would buy this game's sequel, at least not at full price. For some, the ending may break the whole experience--I'm not sorry I got this game, but I won't be playing all the way through again.

Bottom line: if you like loot, esp. in the form of guns, and frantic gunplay with varied and humorous enemies (shotgun-wielding mutant midgets?, an enemy designation that's called "badass", and various pop-culture sci-fi references), and don't mind minimal story and a poor ending, this game is for you. I really can't bring myself to hate this game, it was VERY fun, literally until the very end.


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