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Borderlands Review

Developer: Gearbox Software | Publisher: 2K Games
Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 10/20/09 | Genre: FPS

Borderlands is probably best described as a shoot n' loot; that is to say, you shoot a lot of things and stash whatever is worth carrying. The game is an interesting and successful merge between an action RPG and a first person shooter. The unique combination gives the game a feel that is truly its own. The gameplay is addicting and will have you firmly perched in front of your television for hours at a time. This is a wonderful thing.

When you begin the game you select the character you wish to play as. Each character represents a class which provides a different playing experience. For instance Brick is a huge, powerful character that is a fine choice for going in with guns and fists blazing while Lilith, the Siren, is more suited to the stealth-conscious gamer. No matter which character you choose you will earn a special power unique to that character. You can use these moves to get you out of a tough spot, but be warned that just like in an RPG, there will be some down time before you can use it again.

The blending of genres is precisely what gives Borderlands its charm. When you damage enemies you'll see numbers pop off of them indicating how much damage was done and killing them nets you experience points. Score enough xp and your character levels up. When this happens you are awarded attribute bonuses and skill points that you can use to customize your character's abilities. This means that you and a friend can play as the same character and end up with varying skill sets by the end of the game. You can also see who has the better warrior by challenging players to a duel...may the best man win.

Another big draw to the game are the items that drop. There are literally hundreds of thousands of items and variations thereof to find. The harder the enemies, the better loot they drop and if you want the best then you'll need to team up with some buddies and take down tough enemies in co-op mode. Each item has its own set of attributes that differentiate it from others. For instance one gun may cause a lot of damage, but have a low rate of fire while another might deal less damage, but fire much more quickly and accurately. It doesn't stop there though, guns (and grenades) can cause elemental effects such as starting an enemy on fire, delivering an electric shock or eating away at his flesh with corrosive chemicals - fun stuff!

Visually the game offers a stylized, slightly cel-shaded look. The environments, along with the music, set a desolate mood to the game with a bit of a wild west feel. Overall, the presentation is fantastic and helps immerse you into the world. The voice acting is also very well done and there is quiet a bit of humorous dialog from the game's inhabitants.

When it comes to problems, Borderlands doesn't have too many, but there are some that are worth mentioning. The one that stands out the most is getting stuck on items in the environment or trapped in a place that perhaps you were not intended to go. This will likely happen to you several times throughout the adventure. Also, the quest marker can be off by quiet a bit in some cases. This happens mostly when on the scavenger missions. The quest marker is supposed to mark the location of the current quest, but on at least two of these missions it appears in the wrong area of the map. This can be frustrating when you waste a lot of time looking for something only to realize it isn't there at all.

Even with the issues mentioned above, Borderlands is still a fantastic package that offers plenty of play time for the dollar. You could easily pick up this game and not buy another for several months. It is one of the best games to come out this year and might just be my pick for Game of the Year when the time comes. Pick it up and enjoy!

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By Ryan Schaefer - 11/24/09
ESRB Details: This is a sci-fi first-person shooter in which players assume the roles of mercenary treasure hunters on a mission to the fictional planet of Pandora. Players undertake missions/quests that increase characters' skills, eliminate an assortment of mutant creatures, and drive and collide with advanced alien vehicles. Players kill hundreds of enemies (e.g., human bandits and mercenary soldiers) over the course of the game by using a wide variety of guns (shotguns, sniper rifles), explosives, and special ammo types (fire, acid and electricity, etc.). The combat is frenetic, and enemies moan or scream when they are hit. Damage from weapons also results in large spurts of blood, dismemberment, and decapitation. When a human or creature is decapitated, an effect resembling a fountain of blood will shoot from the neck for a few seconds and stop. Some weapons cause enemies to split in half, the top being separated from the waist. During the course of the game, characters make jokes about streaking, body parts, rape, and mothers (e.g., '…more busted than my momma's girly parts'). Strong profanity (e.g., 'f*cking,' 'sh*t,' 'p*ssy,' and 'd*ckbag') can be heard in the dialogue.
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