A journey of danger, gore and heaps of weapons makes this one of the most enjoyable games you could possibly play this year.
You are on Pandora, a hostile unforgiving planet full or secrets, extreme events and some angry looking monsters. You are a mercenary sent to plunder this planet of all its riches and to discover the location of the mysterious Vault and along the way quests, objectives and violence! The intro scene will have you in that groovy killing mood in no time and gives you an exciting , new, quality feel right from the word go. So you’ve enjoyed the intro scene now you must pick your mercenary and there are four to choose from:
Roland: Soldier and former Crimson Lance mercenary, able to deploy a Scorpio Turret, a weapon that attacks automatically while shielding Roland. Rifles and shotguns are his standard-issue weapons.
Lilith: Siren Phasewalker who can fight invisibly with extreme speed. She prefers guns firing incendiary, shock and corrosive rounds.
Mordecai: Hunter whose bird of prey Bloodwing follows him into battle. Mordecai is a sniper rifle master favouring the revolver as a side arm.
Brick: Berserker who annihilates adversaries with his fists while in an almost indestructible rage state. When not pulverizing enemies by hand, Brick fights using explosive weaponry.
The four mercenaries are very different from each other giving you four unique and different ways to play the game, you can however use whatever weapons you like with each character, their classes have more favoured weapons and different abilities. When I first started I chose the Siren for her speedy but stealthy attacks, you can change the colour of your characters clothing by visiting the New-U-Station screen, they look like gas burners for your back yard and glow neon green when nearing them and will save all your stats when used so when you die you will respawn at these points.
Your “guardian angel” will appear telling you to get off the bus, your tutorial will start here. A small cheeky robot will welcome you to fire stone, these robots are called Clap Traps and they will appear throughout the game offering extra backpack spaces if you can locate a tool box to repair them. He will give you a heads up display showing you your experience, heath, ammo and a compass at the bottom in white, after an interruption by a group of bandits in vehicles you will be introduced to some enemies you can kill. You will start with one weapon but weapons come in abundance so I wouldn’t worry about not finding more, the controls are smooth and getting around is easy which is important as you have a whole new exciting but dangerous world to explore.
After you’ve killed the small nest of bandits start looking around and picking everything up, enemy’s drop a variety of things from ammo to cash and weapons, always do this as you will need the cash later on for ammo upgrades and shields. There are so many things to find and explore in Borderlands it will keep you more than happy all the way through if you fancy just treasure hunting yourself off the beaten track. When you pick up some weapons press the back button to access your character menu, scroll to your inventory to find you weapon slots and assign one extra weapon for the time being more will open as you play. When you’re out of the character menu the D-pad is used for short cuts for your weapon slots or press Y button to scroll through your last two weapons you used, making combat very enjoyable as you can switch weapons quickly also saving you and, if you choose, your buddies from hairy situations.
As you progress you will be introduced to all those locked spaces in your inventory like Grenade Mods enabling you to throw them and also to change the ability on the grenades you throw. You will also unlock Shield Mods which is self explanatory and when a shield is equipped an extra bar will appear above your health bar giving you an edge on your enemies. Even further on and you will unlock Class Mods, these are devices to boost your character class’s stats and come in many variety’s and ranks. The game gives you enough time to become proficient before introducing you to another feature or ability which makes the transgression through training to the main plot smooth and seamless, you will start to notice more and more quality and ideas to challenge you as you progress and will carry on to the end throwing some unexpected things your way, it is Pandora after all.
To start your first missions in fire stone you must first find Dr. Zed, the Clap Trap will give you a mission involving getting to Dr. Zed. Mission objective show up on your compass and are indicted by a green and white flashing triangle, it’s very easy to use and follow especially over the wastes of Pandora and your compass will also show other things like car depot and mission spots making navigation painless, and if you’re still stuck or lost you can always consult your map with the back button and scroll along the menu tabs. After a violent introduction to Dr. Zed you can start to pick up more and more missions eventually opening up new ways to other areas and new missions.
The map is huge and has many areas extending from it giving you expansive areas to explore, also you can open up short cuts in certain areas making trekking back for missions a little bit less time consuming. The level design is high quality with nothing looking out of place and various chests and caves make for good exploring, there are also some amazing sights to be had around Borderlands standing on top of buildings or areas you have scaled can be rewarding as you can see far and wide. As you explore and complete missions you will gain access to vehicles which makes all the difference as some areas are right down the bottom of the main map, you can also use the travel posts marked on your map to instantly travel to other areas you have explored making exploring the whole game a strong possibility and why not you have alot to discover.
As you progress you will notice there aren’t just bandits on Pandora but hardy looking monsters too, there is a good variety of life on Pandora all of which are trying to kill you or eat you but some other forms of life that are harmless should have been added for the cheap kill factor and for more depth, mutant cows always go down well, just seems like there’s too many hostile enemy’s to survive on Pandora but it is entertaining when bandits and monsters try and murder eachother, it gives you a Borderlands perspective of the fight for life. All AI is detailed well for the cell shaded look Borderlands has and the gore effects make combat what is it, very violent and exciting even when you’re a high level you still will be challenged by hordes/villages of bandits or huge flying creatures that breath down elements. There are also bosses and mini bosses, these may have a short cut scene but be warned they normally have much better abilities than your average bandit or monster and often have strong Hench men to protect them, these parts of the game are normally in some kind of arena and will test your skills. You must use all of your powers and probably most of your ammo but these tests in the game keep you looking out for bigger bader enemy’s and get you really involved in the game.
The story progresses well, I won’t spoil it buts definitely worth seeing through to the end even if your short on time these days and with excellent side missions to boot will keep you focused in game if that’s what you feel like doing, but you can also explore in your own time giving you options to fit what killing mood you’re in.
The game is solid all the way through and fans of this genre will be very happy, the game expands as you play leaving you wanting to play more and not trading it in after two days. It also has online co-op for four people which is fantastic, you and your friends pillaging and murdering on a Saturday night, you just can’t beat sharing experiences with friends online or offline. Split screen however is a huge fail, there’s too much going on screen for small/medium TV’s and scrolling menus across your screen to see them just doesn’t work sadly, larger TVs I expect may reduce this problem. It’s nice to see more “worthy titles” especially being advertised well on TV as they’re not misleading the customer in anyway this has quality running all the way to the end and more, this is definitely a game to be proud of.
Gamer Rating: 9.7
Buy, Rent or Pass: Big Fat Buy