With the upcoming release of Borderlands 2, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to take a look back at our review for the original. It's always interesting to see what we thought of the first game in the series, as well as giving you gamers a chance to see just how great Gearbox's first attempt was, just in case you're planning on playing through it before the sequel gets here.
So without further delay, check out our review for the original Borderlands, written by our friend Ash Buchanan.
Gearbox and 2k invite you to Pandora, a planet that somewhere on its hostile lands holds The Vault, which offers untold fame, fortune and power. Settled years ago and thought of as a safe haven, the planet thawed and with it came beasts that lay deep in hibernation. Most of the settlers left, leaving a small band behind to work and make an honest profit, sadly others saw the chance to be bad and bandits appeared, looking to make a killing from the few prospectors left looking to make their mark.
At the start of the game you are introduced to the four main character types and it's up to you to select one, which is a hard first choice as they are all very appealing with their own style and special powers. The Hunter specializes in sniper and revolvers and has an eagle called Bloodwing that can be summoned in fights. The Siren is handy with shock moves and corrosive guns and can Phasewalk. The Soldier mainly uses combat rifles and shotguns and can throw down a Scorpio Turret which produces a shield and covering fire. Finally there is the Berserker who enjoys explosives and using his fists. Once decided a mysterious figure instructs you to get off the bus and make your way to the local town and your first steps towards finding The Vault.
The environment is a hostile and arid desert, heat rises from the ground, dust gets everywhere and the locals are just as unfriendly. You first town, Fyrestone is a small shanty town that is struggling with the bandits, once you befriend Claptrap, a local robot and run out the bandits, locals start to talk to you and ask for help.
Though the main aim of the game is to find The Vault the only way you can do this is to help people. There are settlers dotted all around the main game hubs, talk to them and they will give you a quest, then just follow the marker to the next game area. These are separate from the hub and tend to be more packed with enemies and threats. Most of the missions revolve around killing people or collecting items, but now and then there is the occasional arena fight or hunt for a certain animal.
Each map is huge and going by foot can be a chore, thankfully there are Catch-a-Ride booths and transporters all over the map. The Catch-a-Ride's supply vehicles called Runners which you can drive and fire with a lock-on turret or be stationary and man the main turret. These can be colour customised and you can choose from either a machine gun or rocket turret.
The action in Borderlands plays like a first person shooter. The basic controls are like any other game with running, shooting, reloading and special powers all easy to pull off. Behind all that is a great RPG set up that will keep stat and menu fans very happy. A huge amount of upgrades, weapons, ammo and shields are there to be found. In fact the boast of a bazillion weapons seems to be true as you are constantly picking up weapons, only having to drop what you are carrying due to limited space on your inventory. Each weapon class, like shotgun, sniper or explosive has numerous different manufacturers, each one offering a slightly different model, add to that weapons with elemental powers like fire and lightning and there is a weapon out there for everyone?s taste. A cool RPG touch is the constant leveling up which offers upgrades for your character like more health and increased damage. The little hit point numbers that appear when you hit an enemy are massively useful as by keeping a close eye on what damage you are dealing out gives you an indication of if you are using the right weaponry.
The look of the game is very original, with a huge world totally based around cell shading, don't be fooled into thinking it's for kids, Borderlands is as graphic as they come with head shots galore and limbs flying everywhere. The enemies and locals are drawn to an amazing finish that all moves and plays like watching a cartoon, albeit a very violent one.
Like most FPS games it can be played as single player, however trying to tackle some of the later levels on your own is a quick way to respawn (at a cost). Thankfully the game is actually best played as a 4 player co-op. Players can drop into your game and you can do the same. You all share experience points and cash but need to scavenge for weapons and ammo that is dropped by downed enemies. There is also a split screen mode to cater for the home players. Playing co-op not only helps progress in the game but also unlocks some of the more powerful and rare weapons, but be warned, the game will up the difficulty accordingly to how many players are on.
Review Policy (Version tested: Xbox 360)