Game Name:Borderlands
Platforms:Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Publisher(s):2K Games
Developer(s):Gearbox Software Inc.
Genre(s):Shooter
Release Date:10/20/2009
ESRB Rating:M (Mature)
Price:$60
Demo:n/a

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the gaming industry about the end of mankind, it’s that it will be fueled by insanity, guns, and roaming mutants. Games like Left 4 Dead, Fallout, and Gears of War have all presented us with differing views of just what, exactly, to expect in the end. There will be guns, of course, and everything’s all deformed and crazy. Odds are good most folks are out to kill you (and do lord only knows what else after that) and even those who aren’t wouldn’t exactly be called the most trust-worthy of individuals.

So when I first heard about Borderlands, I figured it would be at best just another shoot em up RPG, and at worst a cheap Fallout clone. Thankfully, I was wrong.

That ain’t no rat…

Here’s the basic gist of the story. You’re an adventurer on an alien planet, which was inhabited years and years ago that isn’t doing so well these days. There’s this fabled Vault out there that is said to be the solution to all your problems, but it may or may not exist. Your ultimate quest is to find the vault, but you sure aren’t going to turn down any viable work along the way.

That’s basically it. No over-arcing social commentary, no deep plot twists or OH SHIT moments down the road, just good ole adventuring and skull bashing.

These poor saps have nothing better to do than fulfill your every request

While it wouldn’t be wrong to call Borderlands a Fallout clone, per-se, it wouldn’t exactly be fair either. What Borderlands has done is essentially take some of the key aspects of other RPGs and make them accessible to nearly everyone. Sure, you can level up and loot and quest in Fallout 3, but can you sit down for a short period of time and really make any progress? This accessibility to nearly anyone who can hold a controller is one of Borderlands huge selling points–you don’t have to be a hardcore gamer to have fun.

Questing can get a little tedious after a while, and you’re going to spend a good deal of time running about the wastelands to get from Point A to Point B, but that’s the beauty about the game–it’s totally tailored toward casual play. Play for a while, get bored, and do something else. Later, jump back in and pick it right back up where you left off.

As with many other games in the genre, the enemy AI was a little flaky at times. In an ideal setting, once enemies were alerted to my presence, they would rush for cover of any kind, and then proceed to waste me. Occasionally, however, they would forgo said cover to do things like stand out in the open….or jump up and down….or actually stand IN FRONT of their cover. It wasn’t an issue that was a HUGE deal, but it sometimes pulled me out of the zone and made me wonder just what the hell was going on. It also lead to a lot of dead baddies (may they rest in peace).

Don’t let his size fool you

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Borderlands and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it this holiday season. If you’re a fan of Diablo, you’ll find things to love. If you’re a fan of Fallout, you’ll find things to love (unless you loved picking up forks and plates that did absolutely nothing but take up space in your inventory…). If you’re just a fan of blowing shit up with as many guns as possible, you’ll definitely find something to love. Above all though, if you’re a gamer who can’t dedicate hours upon hours to a game but still wants the experience of the action RPG, then you’re definitely gonna enjoy it. And with the first set of DLC out and the second on its way, there’s even more to dive into!

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