Borderlands

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Borderlands on Steam

MSRP: $19.99

Platforms: Win, Mac, XBox 360, PS3

Release: 10/26/09

Steam Rating: 94% positive


I have always liked the idea of first person shooters, but I frequently find that they’re not as fun to play as I think they’re going to be. In fact, the first time I played Borderlands, I bounced off pretty hard, but only because it wasn’t the experience I was expecting.  After reading a review which described it as having MMO-style questing, I approached it from another angle and found it infinitely more enjoyable.

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You’re given the choice of four pre-made characters, and I decided to give Roland, the Soldier, a whirl. Each of the characters has a distinct playstyle, so you may want to play with each for a little while before committing to a character to proceed through the game with.  You will be given the opportunity to change your character’s name and make minor cosmetic customizations, but each have their own skill tree and you cannot mix and match to make your own class.

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Weapons and ammo are plentiful – so plentiful in fact that there are going to be a lot of things on the ground you can’t pick up. Instant health packs are quite a bit rarer, but early on you’re told to purchase a rechargeable shield, which helps a lot on non-boss fights. Single use health packs are also purchasable, but I have yet to find them anywhere but from a vendor.

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All in all, Borderlands is an enjoyable run-n-gun loot-fest.  So far the story is adequate, but there’s a lot of side missions and tons of boxes to open, and horrible little rat-d0g-monsters to kill, so I’m having a hard time staying plot-focused.  Even without touching any of the DLC, you’re easily looking at 20+ hours, with decent replay value, and you can up that to ridiculous if you have friends to play with, because Borderlands seems to have been designed with co-op in mind.

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The art style holds up well – Borderlands isn’t showing its age nearly as much as other titles from the same time.  I did have some initial glitches trying to swap to my monitor’s native resolution (for reasons I can’t even begin to understand, it defaulted to 640X800, which looks as awful as you might expect), but after a couple of reloads, it has run flawlessly since then. I’m not sure I’d recommend dropping $20 for the single player experience, however, at this point, Borderlands is frequently available at a deep discount, so if you can pick it up on sale, it’s worthwhile even if, like me, you don’t generally love first person shooters.

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