Borderlands Cover
Platforms Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows
Genre First-person role-playing shooter
Score 9  Clock score of 9
Buy from Amazon

In my December blitz of full reviews, this is my last one of the year. I'm not going to say I saved the best for last, because that falls to either Super Mario Galaxy 2 or Mass Effect 2 at this point, but Borderlands is certainly way up there. Like Mirror's Edge, Borderlands paves its own genre and does it beautifully. The mash-up of first person shooter and RPG with a zillion guns tacked on for extra destruction gels perfectly. The classes feel distinctly different, four player online co-op just works super well, and the game features over 30 hours of content on just your first playthrough (and you will play more than once).

Borderlands was released in October of 2009, so it's been out a while and is very cheap if you want to get into it now. The team is currently developing Duke Nukem Forever so there's no fear of Borderlands 2 coming out for at least a year and a half, I would think. I plan to continue writing about Borderlands well into next year as I still have three sets of downloadable content to review after just covering the first one, The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned. But as the end of the year is imminent, I really feel like I need to get my thoughts on the main game out on the table.

Mike has gone into great detail already on what makes Borderlands so great, and after re-reading his review, I honestly don't have a lot to add. This is one of my favorite games of the year and I'll detail why I personally liked it so much below, but if you're looking for an in depth review I would recommend you check out Mike's.


Gameplay: 10

For being so much more than just a plain old shooter, Borderlands sure controls well. The gameplay is very smooth and I never had problems pulling off headshots or taking down dozens of bird enemies. Every single gun feels different, and each class has their own special power and skill tree to explore. Bosses are numerous and the lands to explore very expansive. Borderlands is packed with content.

My only complaint with the gameplay is that the vehicle drives like crap. One little stick in the road stops you in your tracks. This becomes more problematic as the game wears on as you're traveling a lot and driving usually saves quite a bit of time.

Fun Factor: 9

Borderlands is fun on your own, but gets even better with friends. There are so many ways to play this game, nothing ever gets old. I was always switching weapons up and trying different tactics, and everything completely changes when you start adding buddies into Borderlands. There are always a decent number of missions available, and the game handles multiple people at different points in the game as well as it could.

My biggest complaint is that the game requires a ton of backtracking and running around. You don't get access to instant warps for a few hours into the game, and even after that you will find yourself running or driving a lot over the same terrain. This could have been solved with more warp points, I believe, or just slightly better level design all around.

Graphics and Sound: 9

Borderlands is well known for dramatically switching graphical styles during development from realistic to cel-shaded, and by golly, this was probably the single best decision the developers made. Borderlands looks uniquely Borderlands, there is no other game out there today that mixes cartoony violence so well. There are very few graphical issues, either. No fog, huge draw distance, mostly good framerate (just don't fill the screen with burning enemies like I did).

There's quite a bit of voice work in Borderlands, and the actors do a pretty decent job of playing their roles. I wouldn't have minded a bit more urgency out of some of the characters, I mean, these people basically live alone on a desert planet full of monsters. Don't they see a problem in this?

Story: 5

I'm not sure if I could say I was disappointed in Borderlands' story, it's just kind of there in the background. If you want to digest it, you can, but there's not a lot to chew on even if you look. The story is driven on by a few characters who mostly use you to clean up bad guys here or there, and then the end is honestly a bit of a let down. There is a nice cast of characters on Pandora though, but no one you'll really become attached to over your journey.

Overall: 9

In another year, Borderlands could have been my Game of the Year. This is an excellent game though that will give you days worth of content to shoot up and loot. I know this review is a lot shorter than for some other games I enjoyed this much, but I really agree with Mike's take on it at almost every level.