Borderlands has undergone few evolutions since Gearbox first showcased the title. It is an action based shooter at its core that includes character building elements common in RPG games. Does Borderlands merely stand in the shadow of Fallout 3 or does it manage to carve out its own niche?
The events unfold on Pandora, a out of the way planet on the edge of the galaxy. Once Pandora had such promise and the original settlers were drawn there with hopes of better lives and vast mineral resources. It was soon realized that Pandora was a vast wasteland crawling with unspeakable monsters. Those with the means to escape did so. Others were not so lucky and were left to fend for themselves. Their only hope is a mysterious Alien Vault carved into the side of the mountain that contains vast alien technology and secrets. This vault is shrouded in mystery as the original people that discovered it have been wiped out.
Fast forward nearly 200 years after the discovery of the vault. You and several other fortune seekers are drawn to Pandora in hope of accessing the vault. Upon arrival in the town of Fyrestone, you are met with a vision of a mysterious lady known as the Guardian Angel. She knows of your travels and wants to assist you in finding the vault. Now you must traverse this vast wasteland fighting bandits and monsters, all in the hope of discovering the mythical vault.
The world of Pandora offers you four characters to begin your journey: Brick the Berserker, Lilith the Siren, Mordecai the Hunter, and Roland the Soldier. Each have unique weapon specialties and special abilities. If you choose the same character in two different play troughs, by the time you finish, they can be completely different from each other. Besides simply leveling up your character, you also level up each type of weapon. Focusing on mostly sniper rifles will make you an extremely powerful sniper at the expense of your other weapons. This offers some great replayability options as in one play through, you could be very proficient with sniper rifles and shotguns, while in another you’re a pistol marksman.
The story starts out decent, but in the end is fairly forgettable. It does a good job of at least explaining why you are on Pandora. With all the running around that the quests require of you it’s hard to tell what is a main story quest and what is a side quest.
The gameplay more then makes up for the lack of story. Borderlands is a FPS RPG that sets its focus on loot and guns. To say guns are a focus is an understatement, it’s almost an obsession in Borderlands. This is by far the most guns I have seen in one game. The developers claim that a couple hundred thousand to over a million guns are present. That may seem far fetched, but once you start playing the game and realize how many different combinations of firepower, reload speed, and environmental effects there are, it seems quite possible. Vehicle controls resemble those of Halo and allow for a buddy to hop in and gun.
As your character levels up more life becomes available, which is essential since it does not regenerate. Generally the harder the enemies are, the more life they can take away with each hit. Shields will become available to you very early on which do have regenerative powers. Shields can be upgraded by finding or purchasing new ones.
At level five special abilities will be unlocked. These are different for each character and really can come to your aid when you’re in a bind. From level five on, you gain one skill point per level to put towards your special ability or yourself. The list of upgradable characteristics is quite large, ranging from health to shield regen speed to better accuracy. When distributed correctly you are a force to be reckoned with.