The lights are on
So as previously mentioned (http://theweepingjester.tumblr.com/post/24354616943/upcoming-borderlands-review), my review of Borderlands Game of the Year Edition will be split into 5 parts. one for the main game, and 1 for each of the 4 DLC. this is currently part 1. this is solely and entirely based off of the core game experience. As if it wasn't the game of the year edition. enjoy, and keep checking back for the remaining parts, or just follow me on twitter for the updates! @W33PINGJ3ST3R
Boderlands definitely has a unique look. sure, cell-shading isn't anything new, but Borderlands does an exceptional job of it. Just something about it looks so smooth that at first it feels slightly foriegn, but later you'll barely even recognize it. definitely one of my favorite looks for a game.
There are some occasional graphic pop ins. and when you first load up a level, textures are just a blur until they fully load and get their full details. this can be overlooked, but it's very easily noticeable,and graphic whores are sure to be disappointed during these moments. however, i'm sure the graphic beauty after it's all be loaded will cause them to forget about it.
Borderlands has a very simplistic soundtrack. nothing too complicated, except for their "theme song": "Ain't No Rest For The Wicked" by Cage the Elephant. but apart from that, you'll hardly notice it's there. but i don't feel there really needs to be some kind of intense music score. what's there does a good job to set the mood, and though it's not right in your face, you'll still recognize it should you hear it later.
the voice actors are awesome, generating these wacky characters that are convincing despite their unreal nature. And the scripting is very cleverly humorous, i actually chuckled here and there. especially the small one-liners everytime you pass by a CL4P-TP, also known as Clap-Trap.
All is not without fault though. on top of the graphic load delay i mentioned, there were some glitches in accordance with the mission log. when i joined another players online campaign, his missions somehow got sent over to mine, but since they were missions i've already completed, and the story has progressed since, there was no way for me to "turn in" and complete the mission. So the mission is still in my mission log after having completed the mission. It in no way effected my progression in the game, or anything at all really, but it is quite annoying that those two missions will never be complete.
Apart from the graphical and online glitches though, Borderlands presents itself very well. From the setting to the characters, to just the overall looks, Borderlands will have something good for any one.
Borderlands has a story, but it's not really something that will suck you in. First off, there are no cutscenes. Talking to characters takes form of reading text in mission menus, and the story is also translated this way along with the help of a "guardian angel" that talks to you as you progress on your quest. Backstory can also be learned via ECHO recordings (audio recordings), and conversation with story characters.
The ain idea is that the wasteland planet of Pandora has a secret vault on it that is fulled with loot. Everyone on Pandora has heard of the vault, some believe it and actively search for it, while other presume it to be myth. You play as one of 4 Vault Hunters: Roland - the soldier, Lillith - the siren, Modecai - The hunter, and Brick - "as himself" (the heavy berserker brute). there are no story ties to any of these characters at all, and the story has no change on which character you choose. the difference matters when you get to gameplay, which we'll discuss later.
As you search for the Vault, you'll have to face the deadly wildlife of Pandora, along with Bandits, and other enemies trying to get their grubby hands on your loot! That's about the extent to the back story here, and things do get better by the end, but it's still pretty minor stuff.
what really steals from the story are the numerous side missions. Few of which have anything to do with the core story, you'll find yourself very distracted completing everyone elses needs.
Don't get me wrong, there is a story here along with a couple twist and turns, but it's very weak. not to mention the anti-climatic ending...
Borderlands consist of a ton of fetch missions. you get a mission, go complete it, and then turn in for rewards and more missions. There are also TONS of side missions to be done and it'll take a good deal of time to complete them all. However, not all these side missions are to be considered optional. each mission has a certain level it's on. for instance, if a mission is a lvl. 20 mission, and your character is a lvl.17, you're going to have a hard time completing the mission. so to fix this, by completing side missions (also labeled with lvls), you can level up your character to match or pass the lvl of the current story mission in order to complete it.
Did i mention this game is a RPG? well yeah, it is. for every enemy you kill, thing you do, you get experience (xp). that xp then levels up your character and gives you skill points to use on your skill tree. the skill tree's have a number of skills your character can learn if you spend the skill points from leveling up. anyone who's played any basic RPG can relate to this.
Going back to the 4 characters, each charater has their own set of 3 skill trees focussing on a different tier for each tree. for instance, Rolland, the soldier, has a skill tree named "Medic". the skills on this tree focus fully on regenerating health and all that while his "Infantry" tree focuses more on offensive damage. Each character has their own set of trees focussing on entirely different abilities. They also have their own unique special ability. Rolland has a turret he can summon, lilleth can turn invisible and charge at enemies (refered to as "phasewalking"), Mordecai has a bird pet called Bloodwing that will hunt down enemies, and Brick resorts to his fist to pummel down his foes. As you level each of these become stronger, as do their other abilities.
But the characters aren't the only ones to level up. Practically everything in the game does. Weapons raise levels as you progress so that the weapons you use in the beginning of the game will be weak compared to the ones halfway through. Even the enemies level as you get further along. for instance enemies in Skag Gully will be around level 5, while enemies in the Crimson Enclave are in their 30's.
What's even cooler is that the difficulty of the game increases as more players enter the game. you can play on you're own, but the game was really intended for up to 4 people online co-op. and this is where the game really shines. as more people enter the enemies levels rise as do the number of enemies you face. it also takes into account the levels of all the players, so that when a lvl.32 characters enters a lvl.11's game, he doesn't go around killing everyone. however, if a lvl.11 was to join in a lv.32's game, he could expect to have a good deal of trouble staying alive.
This all makes for an ever adapting gameplay experience. and i think it's awesome. Still, it's arguable that Borderlands trademark feature is it's loot. Chest are everywhere. and inside chest you find weapons, ammo, money, mods, arftifacts, ect. new stuff can be found everywhere. even enemies spew out loot everywhere when defeated. it's particularily fun to defeat a boss who then dumps out tripple times as much loot as a casual enemy. and finding new guns will always be important. as i said before, the enemies level with you, so your old weapons at lvl15 will have little effect later on against enemies that are lvl 22. so you have to constantly keep picking stronger and better weapons.
The game has much to offer in gameplay from buggy riding, to a large variety of weapons, to just messing around. it's highly addictive and fun formula, and there is never a lack of things to do.
Borderlands is an experience many games should invest in. the RPG core, the multiplayer experience, the graphics, the world of Pandora itself. Just don't expect a heart pumping story. And the best part is that if you have the Game of the year edition, you're not even done yet! you still have 4 DLC to pound through.
Speaking of, don't forget to check back for Part 2 of the Borderlands Game of the Yeat Edition where i'll review the first of the DLC: The Zombie Island of Doctor Ned!
follow me on twitter for the updates! @W33PINGJ3ST3R
UPDATE: ALL parts are complete. check the link at the top of this article.
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