Borderlands

So I started playing Borderlands and I’m having a lot of fun with it, so I thought I’d type up a bit of a review, but before I get into that I think I should point out that I really don’t play a lot of video games and as such I might have a much different perspective on them than most people who play video games. I have a few PC games, but I haven’t actually played any of those in probably over 6 months (though not for lack of trying, I tried to install the Cthulu game I have but it wouldn’t work). I have a few PS2 games, and I play those more often than the PC games, but I haven’t actually beaten any of them (though I might end up beating Okami if I ever get back to playing it). Before Borderlands on the XBox360 the only other console I had/ had played on occasionally was the Super Nintendo and there’s only one game on that which I’ve beaten, I believe it’s called Yoshi’s Island or something like that. And before I started playing Borderlands I had expressed distaste for the general concept of first person shooters, and first person perspective in games in general.

Now, keeping all that in mind, here’s my "review" of the game.

At first I didn’t play it, I just watched The Keeper play. The first thing I noticed when The Keeper turned on the game was the song that plays during the opening scene. It’s "Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked" by Cage the Elephant. I’ve been digging on that song since it hit the radio, so this was a point in the game’s favor.

The second thing I noticed was the sort of jovial but sleazy guy talking with a slightly eastern european accent. His voice, the accent and the content of what he was saying, along with Cage the Elephant, set the tone of the game for me.

Those two things got me to look up from my book while The Keeper was playing, so the next thing I noticed was the art style. The world you’re in is very drab and run down, but I like the way things were drawn. Not quite entirely trying to be realistic, but not cartoonish either. I think the look of the game is very cool.

Then there were a couple little things that amused me. There’s a type of robot which sounds and acts a bit like Gir from the cartoon Invader Zim. I loved that cartoon, especially Gir, so the robot made me smile. The main beasts that you have to deal with, at least at the beginning of the game, look to me like the monsters from the second Tremors movie, the ones that run around and have sort of a triangular mouth that opens into three sort of petals. I dug the Tremors movies for their delicious cheesiness and some of the characters, so these monsters also made me smile.

So that’s what pulled me in. Now for what’s kept me playing.

There are four characters you can play. Each one has a specific power which is at the head of a skill tree.  The skill tree has 3 paths with six skills for each path, but you don’t have to just pick a path and stick with it. You can mix and match. That’s about it as far as customization as you level up. Personally I like that for a premade sort of character like these. I didn’t create the character, and because it’s a video game with a set story I can’t really decide anything about the character’s "personality", so there’s not much point in my mind to make it much more complicated than that. Complicated mechanics, in my opinion, are for games like D&D where you’re invested in the character. For something like this I don’t need things to be complicated.

Most of the game involves shooting people (so far anyway). There’s a bit of a story, but not anything so in depth that you’re required to really do anything besides go out, kill things and then either bring something back to someone or move something from one place to another or just go back and let people know you killed someone important.

It appears that there may be some more customization further into the game than where I am involving elemental powers that you can apply to yourself or your guns or something, but I haven’t gotten that far yet. If you’re looking for realism with the guns, it’s there on a very, very basic level but not really very realistic in application. Yes there are shotguns with a scope, so presumably they have better range than one would normally think for a shotgun. But they don’t have anything near the range of the sniper rifles that are in the game. And even though they have the range, they’re not as accurate the further away you’re trying to shoot. Also, there are guns that you find along the way that already have those elemental powers I mentioned. I think my favorite might be the sniper rifle that has a fire effect, so when you shoot things they catch on fire and continue to take damage. And then there’s also the rocket launcher with a lightening effect that I found…

Basically, I think it probably falls in the category of "fun brain candy" for "serious" gamers.

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