Borderlands Preview

101 tluaV.

Monday morning I had an appointment with the folks from Gearbox to check out some of the features behind the upcoming Borderlands. If you haven’t heard of it before, where have you been the last couple of years? More than likely you’ve seen it, but without its fancy new cel-shaded look.

[image1]Originally, the game had a look similar to that of Fallout 3, but no one should have to stare at a grey ashtray of a wasteland for God knows how many hours wandering around aimlessly, so a vibrant color palette has been added along with some terrain variation to keep monotony from rearing its ugly head.

Really, the theme of being the Anti-Fallout 3 seems to run through the whole game. It’s the FPS-RPG for folks who don’t like to waste time on all the in-between B.S. and get straight to the action. You’ve come to the appropriately named planet of Pandora to seek out the legendary Vault, as opposed to trying to escape from one and find your long lost father. The two games meet in the middle when it comes to exploring your story in a vast wasteland. You’ll be given missions through NPCs who will help you move the plot along or reward you with experience, items, or things to blow shit up with.

Another nice aspect is that since this is another planet and not post-WWIII earth, there is no limitation as to what creatures can look like. Instead of giant ants and mutated humans, you’ll get quadrupeds with the mouths like those giant slugs in Tremors and giant angry spider-crab-looking things that spit out fireballs. And that’s on top of dealing with crazy, machete wielding midget outlaws and roided-out freaks hellbent on breaking up the relationship your head has with your body.

[image2]At least you won’t have to worry about being outclassed in the ballistics department. The sheer amount of weapons you’ll have at your disposal is staggering. Imagine an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of gun parts combining them forever to make an infinite number of varying guns. That’s pretty much how it works. You will see so many weapons along the way that you won’t know what to do with them all. Not to mention the upgrades – such as elemental abilities or larger magazines – that can be purchased or found to add to your overall death-causing potential.

You’ll also be able to choose between four classes of warrior: The Siren who can make herself temporarily invisible to get a tactical advantage on enemies from the backside of, say, the big, angry-looking dude in the prison showers; The Tank, who flips out and kills everything with brutal insanity; The Soldier, who can deploy a shield turret to protect himself while providing some extra cover; and lastly, The Sniper with the ability to, well… shoot things from long distances.

Not only will you have the opportunity to play through the story as one of these mercs, but you’ll also get the chance to work in tandem with other players online in a four-player co-op mode. A group of real people makes for a lot better company and help than a A.I. dog who dies too easily. And if you or one of your companions pulls a dogmeat and takes one hit too many, you’ll at least be given a chance at survival through the Left 4 Dead-like revival system. Essentially, your view goes all wonky like the Matrix drunk on Patron, and you have to ward off assailants as your team tries to rescue you before you bleed out.

[image3]Although I did not get a chance to check out the action of hopping from one moving vehicle to another while killing opponents, an element that had been heavily touted when the game was announced a few years ago, I was reassured that it was still alive and well, but may not play as prominent a role in the final build as originally thought. And while I would have loved to see how combat played out in that scenario, we only had about half an hour in single- and multiplayer co-op, and there was no way I was going to see everything Borderlands had to offer in that short amount of time. But what I did see was good enough to make me feel that this is going to be the FPS-RPG for the person who doesn’t want to schlep their gear around a wasteland for hours on end. A game of casual depth if you will…

Get ready for a trip to Pandora on 360, PS3 and PC in late October.