Borderlands brings the apotheosis of a mediocre title striving to expand beyond its grasps by being the first to allow a fusion of two beloved genres in everyday titles: shooter and Role Playing Game (RPG). Borderlands manages to make generic role playing aspects combined with a new level of grinding glory to provide for a decent action experience that still ends up largely failing in the execution of making anything exciting for play. Borderlands hopes to land people in a time of unruly circumstances, fueled by interesting characters that are skilled in many different ways, but unfortunately takes a spin into the unexceptional and obtrusively boring.
Borderland begins by a character selection through the bus interface that begins the journey. On their way to different places, a group of travelers edge on the rim of action as they partake in a world completely barren from an apocalypse. Roland is the bad gun slinging soldier, Mordecai is the Sniping Eagle Hawk that is called in for tougher missions of extreme accuracy, Lilith brings on the seductive magic and transfiguration abilities and Brick brings a wall of pain to anyone that seeks it. From here, players embark on a “journey” that guides through multiple quests and interactions with many characters that make up the world of Borderlands, a world as barren as any value in the game itself.
For the most part, Borderlands manages to fail in doing anything new, even with the whole RPG-shooter façade it places on the gameplay. One thing Gearbox Software is successful in implementing is one aspect of the MMORPG genre: grinding. Most of the central and side missions are complete grinding portraits that follow either killing 10 Skaggs, 30 Bandits, collecting this or that, turning off this switch, that switch, etc. Every single quest is as boring as the main storyline itself which revolves the players trying to find the secret of life and treasure in “The Vault,” spoken by many and considered a myth in Borderlands. A mysterious female later revealed guides the selected character as “the chosen one” and only offers a bland and excessively tiring excuse to go around and constantly shoot things. There is never any sense of urgency in Borderlands, and the world feels completely barren. Gearbox Software definitely aimed to make a title that aims to accomplish putting players in the sight and sound of the environment and sadly it only ends up being a sight and sound to forget.
Borderlands does manage to include a nifty weapons system that allows anyone to customize up to an endless amount of weapon combinations based on different stocks to enable their character to level faster. Most of the character abilities themselves have to do with the guns directly that relates back to whom the character originally is – sniper, tank, chameleon – which is a smart choice. The ability points to level skills and weapon proficiencies are typical and range from 0 to 6 and 0 to 5 for skill points. Borderlands combines the first-person shooter aspect of guns to the characters themselves in a different and inventive way.
The only great thing in comparison that comes from Borderlands is that the multiplayer works for the most part, but in itself is nothing amazing. It is definitely sad to imagine that when a game has so much potential on paper, the only great thing that can be said is whether or not the multiplayer is any worse. Players can engage in online four player cooperative action and fight with friends in PvP or work together to kill enemies. Skill gauge and level analyzer software allows the enemy A.I. to be effectively tougher depending on how many players are in the game and how many character levels there are. Playing Borderlands without anyone else is definitely the straight leeway to a boring and awful time in a world that is so uneventful. For players looking to seek refuge from wasting their money on the single-player, the multiplayer offers some relief.
The enemy A.I. of Borderlands is completely hideous. Most enemies come in a straight line and not to mention keep coming out of nowhere randomly given exiting certain areas and re-entering them for quest based missions.
The boss fights in single-player are the worst action sequences in the game due to a combination of bland gameplay design and horrible A.I. planning. Most of the bosses are completely at a different level than the players and require an excessive amount of grinding or completing side-quests to get anywhere close to progressing the storyline. The combination of horrible A.I. infused by a lack of game design and clear focus makes Borderlands interesting for anyone that is hoping how mundane the future can look if in a state of an empty world.
Borderlands barely misses the mark of something that is considered decent, providing a threadbare experience through repetitive gameplay, unvaried combat, monotonous storyline with no real value, and most of all a world where everything is completely spiritless. Borderlands absolutely shows a lot of potential if it were not for the mediocre execution and blasé game design that puts it just below the line of decent into the empty grey space that is the mediocre universe. A lot of the elements of Borderlands add up to a small amount of decent action, but one thing that the level of artless pleasure Borderlands teaches us very well : the end is the end….and it is not pretty.