Reviews by ScienceMan
Guns of FUNSScienceMan | Aug. 13, 2013 | Review of Borderlands
If Quentin Tarantino made a Spaguetti Western, post-apocalyptic-esque video game, this would be it. I can't believe how much fun this game actually is. Even if you're like me and didn't play the first Borderlands, don't pass this one up so quickly. Where do I start?
GAMEPLAY: if you aren't familiar with BL, the best way to explain this is to take the addicting looting system of Diablo and combine it with the basic elements of an FPS, throwing in some RPG via an inventory and skill tree. That's essentially the mechanics of the game, and it all slams together so well here. You have four basic classes to choose to play from, and each class has three paths to focus on in a skill tree -- this means there's plenty of variation to play. In addition to these basic mechanics, the game is open-world, though it may feel semi-linear as you can only explore on an area-by-area basis (think the opposite of an Elder Scrolls game, where you can walk around the entire map without hitting a loading screen until accessing a dungeon). I have to say, with combining so many of our favorite gaming formulas, this game has so many highlights. Sometimes I felt like I was playing something akin to Skyrim. Other times, the ambiance of a specific area or the design of a specific feature reminded me of BioShock. And sometimes certain things brought me back to my Fallout 3 days. However, I never forgot I was playing a completely new adventure that easily whisked me away for hours in the unique and captivating world of Pandora. Lastly, I can't forget the guns. No joke, there are millions of guns you can find. It is so satisfying to find a ridiculous weapon and destroy enemies for the next three hours with it, only to find another weapon that is even better.
SETTING: Speaking of Pandora, it really is a fascinating world. Having a post-apocalyptic feeling yet retaining a notes of being futuristic, there are so many different areas to access. Sometimes you'll be exploring an underground cave full of chemicals. At other times, you'll be questing in a town that feels like it belongs in the Wild West after a nuclear fallout. It's crazy, and I doubt you'll be bored quickly.
STORY: one thing many BL veterans mentioned is the lack of a good narrative beyond funny one-liners in the original game. Like I said I never played Borderlands 1, but I can tell you that in BL 2 the characters are memorable, the writing is well-thought out and downright hilarious, and the story moves at a great pace with scenes of great emotion and other scenes of great sarcasm. This is all coming from a guy who is used to epic stories from Final Fantasy or Mass Effect. Also, be sure to keep your ears peeled while you fight the various enemies. They say and do some hilarious things themselves. But seriously, the writing is just super clever. I mean, what other game has a quest called, "Rocko's Modern Strife"? Classic!
REPLAYABILITY: with the various classes and varying skill trees, there is already plenty of incentive to reboot a new game or two... Or three. However, in addition to these, once you beat the game you open up more challenging modes that guarantee both tougher enemies and significantly better loot. Also, there are a healthy amount of side quests in here to help you clock in the hours that make AAA games a great bang for your buck. If you're a completionist like me, you'll probably spend 50+ hours on your first playthrough. No joke. Or, you can try a different character, pump through the story to get to the better game modes, then spend all your hours doing the side quests and finding the best loot. There are so many possibilities!
One note -- definitely not a game for kids. The gratuitous gore would scar small children, and the extremely crass sense of humor means it's not a good idea to give this to a kid/teen who probably wouldn't understand half the jokes anyway. Just saying, parents, be smart and know what your kids are playing!
In conclusion, this is one heck of a game. I feel that it combines the best of so many game genres into a single FPS while adding in a memorable story that motivates you to find out what happens next. Of course, you'll be laughing your face off the entire way.