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Borderlands Member Review for the Xbox360

Tyrranis By:
Tyrranis
11/19/09
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE Shooter 
PLAYERS 1- 4 
PUBLISHER 2K Games 
DEVELOPER Gearbox Software 
RELEASE DATE  
M Contains Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Mature Humor, Strong Language

What do these ratings mean?

Better living through superior firepower. Until someone drops a bigger gun.

Split-screen multiplayer is dying. Unfortunate, but true. Nowadays, if you want to get a game going with your mates, either you have to be online so that Microsoft knows you're not ripping people off, LAN'ing your brains out using either cables that just don't seem to be long enough, or lag-inducing wireless connections, or have to play 'Hot Potato' with the controller in a 'pass the controls when you die' scenario. The 360 has 4-controller support for a reason, guys!

Fortunately, although it may be dying, split-screen ain't dead yet, thanks to Borderlands. It also doesn't hurt that the game is damn awesome, either.

Borderlands follows the story of 4 Vault Hunters, searching fo the 'Vault' (big shock there) on a planet called Pandora. You play as one of those 4. Nothing else to it really. Your character is not driven by any complex emotions, lost loved ones or even 'because-they-told-me-to' military orders. No, they're just driven by their incessant need for shiny, shiny objects, to a place where they've been told has more than it's fair share of shiny, shiny objects.

Like guns. Lots, and lots of guns. Now, I've never played Diablo, but from what I've heard about it's random-weapon-generator for item drops, Borderlands has a similar thing for guns. Everytime you open one of the game's weapon chests (Of which there are two varieties: a red one that gives either ammo, grenades and either 2 large weapons, 4 handguns or 4 shield generators/grenade mods/class mods,  or one alien weapon, and a white one that is the same, except without the ammo or grenades) the game uses its generator to determine just what you're getting. At best, you just found a trust-worthy new friend with which you can kick some serious ass. At worst, you just leave all that stuff behind. Most of the time, however, you at least get something that you can sell for a bit of money.

Or give to your team-mates. As I said before, Borderlands is one of the few games today that can be played split-screen, and it is definately a very welcome addition (Though it only goes for 2 people in split-screen. For more, you have to traverse the online experience, or cable your way into a working LAN scenario). The game is good on it's own, but when you've got a teammate (Or 2. Or 3) around things get a whole lot better. Enemies get tougher, loot gets bigger and more expensive and the game as a whole just picks up. However, like any game, your choice of partner matters a lot. If you pick the wrong guy, they'll just take your kills (and thus, your XP; you get some from teammates kills, but not as much as you get for doing it yourself), leave you to die and take all the cool guns for themselves.

There are 4 characters to choose from, each with their own skills and abilities to use on the wastelands of Pandora. Lilith, the siren, can phase herself out of this dimension, becoming invisible, only to pop out later to get the drop on enemies or just to run away. Mordecai the Hunter has his pet bird Bloodwing, who can swoop down and knock the health (and cash) out of enemies and give it to you. Roland the Soldier can produce a healing aura when he scores kills, can shoot you back to health and has a turret that can provide fire support, as well as revive, heal and re-arm teammates in it's radius of effect, and Brick, the... well... brick, can become angry, during which he heals really fast and can punch stuff. Very hard. So hard he can both stun AND rob them. It's a very heavy-handed approach to pickpocketing, but I don't really mind.

Not that they don't deserve it, mind you. The world of Pandora is littered with bandits, rogues, hazardous animals and other such monstrosities that it's a very rare occurence to find something you don''t need to shoot at and/or pummel the living daylights out of. All of which can drop ammo and/or money, which begs the age-old question: Why did that evil dog-thing (Skags) have a shotgun on it? Fortunately, the game realises this, and offers up a solution: Skags eat everything. Hell, one of the major places to search for ammo is Skag Piles, which is what happens when a Skag can't digest somethings and hurls them back up. You uh, may want to wash your hands. Just don't get to questioning why there's ammo in every toilet in the game. No matter what answer you can come up with, it isn't going to be pretty.

Unlike the game, however. With Borderland's cell-shaded environment, the game has a rather unique visual style that seperates it from such titles as Fallout 3 (which, by the way, I also have not played). The world feels unique and... barren, but in a good way that makes sense with the planet's backstory. Textures do sometimes take a while to load properly, but I'm not really fussed about that. It's really only noticable when you start the game up and load your save that it bugs you. After that, only the Scythids bug you. Because they're actual bugs. That also drop guns, ammo and money.

Actually, there isn't really that much to complain about. Sure, enemies get challenging at times, but that can differ from person to person; Player A with a crappy weapon may find it more challenging than player B with their ultimate gun of enemy destruction. Mind you, Player A could always supplement their armoury by buying a gun, so again, I'm not really sure if this qualifies as a criticism.

Overall, it does come down to co-op, really. Single player is fine, and perfectly acceptable on its own, but you're really missing out on the best features of Borderlands. When you finally do take the co-op route, though, your enjoyment of it will heavilly depend on who you go with. It could be the best time in the world, or it could be a long lesson as to why you swore never to play with them again. At least then, though, you can tell them that since they could be in the same room as you.

Split-screen multiplayer is dying, but it's not giving up without a fight.

Pandora awaits you.


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