Borderlands is an action RPG where you fight your way to uncover a hidden vault tucked away for centuries. Along the way, you are guided by a mysterious voice and run into all kinds of trouble from the local gangs, the government, and even wildlife on the planet Pandora.
The game itself has you pick one of four classes to play. Each one comes with an active skill and focuses on different weapons. While you do have several gun slots and can use some weapons that class is not specialized in. They have three skill trees that are more focused on those and attributes. Some of them are more focused on just empowering your character while others benefit an entire group if you choose to play with others.
The different classes themselves allow for some very different playstyles based on weapons and damage type. I ended playing as a Soldier who prefers combat rifles and has the skill to deploy a turret. You also have a hunter that uses sniper rifles and has a Bloodwing skill that sends out a bird to attack your enemies. Along with a berserker that is all about explosives and being up close and personal using fists. Finally, you have a siren rounding out your choices who is all about using elements such as shock, corrosion and has phase walk.
As far as the Soldier that I played I found his turret to be extremely powerful in clinch situations if it had a line of site. Just dropping it wherever and hoping for the best usually result in I being wasted and having to waste for my active skill to be off cooldown again. I could also upgrade it in the skill tree to provide me far more utility from a shield, different damage types and even replenishing effects. It was almost like having a team for a moment of time all in one location that could not be moved. It did not have the widest angles of attack so many times could sidestep or just run behind it to get to me. This skill definitely required some thought of placement and my own positioning so it would lay waste to whatever I wanted dead.
It would not be a review of this game without bringing up this character you had some encounters with. This robot meets and greets you while showing you around to some basics of the game. While most games who use this kind of device to get a player acclimated to the game would the leave and forget them. You throughout the game find him in distress situations and can do a side mission to rescue him in quite a number of zones among other things.
At first, I found him to be an extremely annoying third wheel that I even thought might have had a sound glitch in the game. That was driving me a little crazy every time I went to the starting city for picking up new quests or gear. After a while, that stopped and he sort of grew on me a bit whenever I would run into him. Not quite sure if as a friend or as mold growing onto something. Both way, he becomes tolerable and I even looked for him in each new zone to see if there was a recuse mission.
He also provided some comic relief through his own suffering a number of times. The things this robot got caught up in where interesting. Which lead me to believe he was kind of pathetic in a way for a while since I always found him needing to be rescued. Almost liked he in some backward way was enjoying getting captured. After a while, the game started to show a darker side and hinted a more powerful being to this little robot.
Overall I did find he was decently incorporated into the game. So much so I’m somewhat interested in seeing how he ties into the other games. He does present to be the perfect character in the game to keep making reappearances. I have not played the other games and have not looked too much into the next Borderlands that will be coming out. I do have my suspicions he remains around.
With this being an RPG they do bring the loot. They also present it to the player like eye candy and oh boy how did they know I was addicted to picking up things with beams of light! Unlike some games where you fill up your bags and then have a long trek back to some vendor zones far away to offload. I did not have that issue as it was never too far and they gave you quite the inventory space as you progressed. So I looted to my heart’s content and made bank in game selling.
Lots of things you kill will drop stuff, there will be stuff to loot in buildings, and you will find stuff on the ground as well. It’s also just fun to open up boxes and watch them pop up with all kinds of goodies. Along with the ones that slide out. This just present loot in a fun way even when it was not an upgrade for myself. With the different beams of color as to show the rarity of the item, it made it quick to determine if an item was worth looking further into as an upgrade or you just left it behind.
They also set up the game in a way you are not buying and selling to NPCs but rather vending machines. This is my eyes opens up a new avenue in them being able to seed these vending machines inside dungeons, at critical points and every so often if you were far from one. This made it really convenient for me to sell, buy more ammo, healing and whatever I needed to do.
The cleverest type of weapon in this game for me had to be grenades. In most games for me, these things tend to be underwhelming and I tend to avoid them since I just suck at using them. There where so many different types and functions I found one that fit my playstyle and I was using it frequently. This happened to be the Transfusion grenade that explodes into tiny shards that seek out targets and healed me from the damage.
It was a really fun part of the game on the hunt for new upgrades. Every couple of levels you would find something new to use. Whether it was for a better shield which helps protect life and the oh so many different kinds of weapons. At one point I was running around with a rocket launcher just for the pure joy of it even though I had better.
I had wished they took this one further with more options. You had the normal fun of just running things over. Along with the use of the mounted rocket or bullet weapons that came attached. They were made to be used with one or two players. This was as far as it went for the Runner vehicles you had access to.
Some parts of the game they seemed to have put a lot of thought and effort into how the vehicle would be used in the game. A number of times I came across an area where the developers cleverly gapped an area so you could not ride past and use them. Then you had other instances where it gets stuck or rolled over due to my bad driving and it was stuck. You had to go get another one from the many different station points that could be found on a map.
They also had other models than the Runner in the game which raised my hopes that I would get something far superior. Sadly this was just a tease and I never got access to armored vehicles. I will say they might have been a little too powerful than for the rest of the game which does make sense in why I never got anything better.
It was also really nice to not have to deal with running out of gas all the time. While they did display a fuel gauge I never had one long enough alive for that to be even a concern. I find it disappointing when a game overplays you needing fuel every minute as if the gas tank with riddle with bullets or something. This to me felt refreshing not having to care and being able to get to an area quickly as long as it did not blow up and would fit.
AI And Environment
I don’t know if the enhanced version just has better AI or if the older original version came with the same greatness as well. It seemed like a lot of effort was put into creating an environment to have some fun shoot outs in as well. The AI and I were constantly able to use our surrounding and they were doing things to keep me on my feet when certain bad guys were in play.
From a design standpoint, things just felt in a place where you were fighting. A lot of things had more of a rundown or junkyard feel to them. They also had items placed in them that fit perfectly with the surroundings and allowed you to duck, hide, or the AI for the matter use them as well.
Many of the random fights you would find yourself in presented you with different kinds of pressure when trying to determine what to priority at first. Each different enemy had a role to play either it was to lay down cover fire, flank, rush you, try and draw fire in one direction. You might have encountered a heavy hitting ranged enemy that used cover and out of nowhere to the side, one enemy was trying bum rush you to explode. It kept me thinking and many times on my toes dealing with the many different layers of being attacked they were using.
This part of the game I had wished I was playing with a group of people. I struggled and it seemed like the creators of the game understood that be the case for the solo player. A number of times an NPC or some text would remind me that I was going to encounter something hard and just to keep trying.
I will admit I died a number of times or thankfully used my turret to burst down things for victory. You could die and run back and not have to start the fight fresh over again. This did make it rather easy to cheese the fights instead of trying to develop a strait to taking them out. I felt this also removed any lingering struggles for a player could not work things out. As long as you were willing to just run back and fight again. Many times they even have a special area nearby with vending machines for ammo and other supplies.
The boss fights themselves looked really cool. They all had a short cut scene to show off the boss and sometimes their surrounding area a little bit. Each fight was also a little different to make them more unique. They also did a great job of building up a story as to the why you needed to fight them as well.
I ended up having so much fun and was drawn by the lure of finding out how it ended that this game gets put into the completed pile. In fact, I finished it a couple of weeks ago before writing up this review. I had hopes of making some time to play some other classes to replay the game which never happened with my business schedule. I do hope in the future to make the time as it was a thrill.
Disclosure: While I did purchase the non-enhanced GOTY version at some point I never played it. Due to my date of purchase, I received the GOTY enhanced version for free which is what this review is based on.