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Borderlands

Borderlands

October 20, 2009
Developer:
Publisher:
Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Mature Humor, Strong Language

Video Game Cat Review

Date of Review:  September 25, 2012
Format Reviewed:   Xbox 360
Language / Country of Origin:   English
Single or Multi-Player:  Single- and Multi-Player (2-player offline or 4-player online).
Online Capability: 
Online multiplayer available, both competitive and cooperative.  There is also downloadable content (DLC) available for this title: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot, The Secret Armory of General Knoxx, and Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution.
Sequels: Borderlands 2
Equipment Needed: None needed.
Maintenance Required:  None required.

Review:

Plot: 
Borderlands takes place on the small planet of Pandora, which is rich with minerals, making it an attractive lure for many mega-corporations who hope to mine it for its resources.  However, it is also a planet full of hostile alien life.   Many years prior to the game’s beginning, the Atlas Corporation had found an ancient vault on a nearby planet that was composed of ancient, advanced alien weaponry.  Assuming that neighboring Pandora might have a similar vault, Atlas started to explore there too.  They landed on Pandora during the planet’s Winter cycle, when the dangerous alien life was in hibernation and were forced to retreat in the summer when the aliens awoke from their slumber.

Many years later, another mega-corporation, the Dahl Corporation, tries their hand at mining Pandora (using associated prison labor camps) and searching for a vault.  Their archaeological team is headed by a woman named Patricia Tannis.  Once again, despite the allure of the vault and Pandora’s rich mineral deposits, the alien life turns out to be too dangerous and the Dahl Corporation is forced to abandon their operations.  Patricia Tannis, who after witnessing the death of most of her crew has been driven insane, decides to remain behind.  She is certain she has found clues to the vault’s existence via alien artifacts that serve as keys.  After making their decision to leave, however, the Dahl Corporation opens the gates of its prison-labor camps, unleashing all varieties of hard criminals to survive on their own on the planet.  With Patricia’s team of archaeologists slain, her only hope for survival lies in the arrival of treasure hunters seeking their fortune from the elusive vault.  Furthermore, the Atlas Corporation, after hearing of Patricia’s discovery of the vault, returns to Pandora in order to claim the alien treasures for themselves.  With help from the “Guardian Angel,” a mysterious persona transmitting clues and assistance from a satellite orbiting Pandora, our hero(s) must make contact with Patricia Tannis and gain access to the vault before its secrets end up in the wrong hands.

Cultural / Historical Value:
Borderlands combines aspects of both role-playing games and shooters and helped create a new genre of “Role Playing Shooter”.  This game was incredibly popular and sold millions of copies.  It was also nominated for and won numerous awards.  It remains one of the most widely played multiplayer games to date.

Teaching / Learning Characteristics: 
Borderlands is fast-paced and is excellent for developing eye-hand coordination.  A randomizer assures that enemies’ behavior changes, and the game AI adapts as the player’s character develops, providing ever evolving challenges.  Though this engine has room for much improvement, a player cannot so easily predict the movements and tactics of the enemies in Borderlands.  The challenge of shooting a foe is directly related to the player’s coordination with the controller, so players have to continually learn to themselves adapt and respond to the “intelligent” enemies in order to succeed at the game.

Replay Value:  
The game has four playable characters, who each have their own skills.  Brick, a Berserker, is massive and muscular and is excellent for defeating enemies using melee tactics.   Lilith is a Siren and is endowed with a superhuman ability called “phasewalking.”  For a short time, Lilith can enter another dimension which makes her invisible, untouchable, and very fast-moving.  When Lilith’s phasewalk is complete, she expels a shockwave that harms all nearby enemies.  Lilith specializes at wielding pistols.  Mordecai is a man of wits and specializes in the use of sniper rifles.  In order to aid his close range combat, Mordecai has an alien pet bird that resembles a hawk and answers to the name, “Bloodwing.” Upon command, Bloodwing flies from Mordecai’s shoulder and swoops down to attack unsuspecting enemies.  Roland is a soldier and former member of the Atlas Corporation’s Crimson Lance Army.  He has a gun turret that can be deployed so long as its use is warranted by a charge, and prefers shotguns over pistols and sniper rifles.  Being able to play these different characters changes the feel of the game and adds to its replayability.  Along with the variety of characters to choose from, Borderlands also has several add-ons, or downloadable content, including: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot, The Secret Army of General Knoxx, and Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution.

Likely Audiences:
Borderlands is an excellent game that will intrigue players who are interested in either role-playing games or shooters.   In combining the mode and versatility of an RPG with the challenge of a shooter, Borderlands has engineered a new audience.  By the success of this game and the introduction of its sequel, Borderlands 2, anyone interested in RPG style games and shooters alike should test their treasure hunting skills on Pandora.

Overall Score:
95/100

Other Reviews:
1up.com
Gamerankings
Gamespot
Metacritic
MobyGames 


About the Author:
Ben Bigalke is an avid traveler, bicycle enthusiast, lover of animals and video gamer extraordinaire.  He grew up taking the stories and virtues told by the Nintendo of his childhood to heart.  As an adult, he continues to appreciate the entertainment and learning experiences that videogames offer and studies the technological and artistic advancements they have made throughout his lifetime.  As a videogame reviewer, he enjoys both observing and experiencing the cultural impact that these games have on his generation.

Awards

Award Giver Category Verdict
Spike Video Game Awards 2009Best Multiplayer Game Nominee
Spike Video Game Awards 2009Best RPG Nominee
Spike Video Game Awards 2010Best DLC
(Borderlands: The Secret Armory of General Knoxx)
Nominee
Game Developers Choice Awards 2010Best Visual Arts Nominee
Interactive Achievement Awards 2010Outstanding Achievement in Online Game Play Nominee
Interactive Achievement Awards 2010Role-Playing/Massively Multiplayer Game of the Year Nominee

Additional Info

ESRB Description:
Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Mature Humor, Strong Language

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