After kinda enjoying the wisecracking robot in the Poker Night game, I did decide to check out Borderlands (and I needed a break from the grimness of Telltale’s Walking Dead game). I was slightly worried by the fact that it’s a shooter, but it’s also a Diablo-esque stuff-gathering game. As a shooter, it’s decent. Lots of different weapons, although they tend to be of only a few basic types. I can’t imagine the graphics were impressive for the time, technologically, but they do something to give things a cartoony look (normally they use cell shading for this, but it isn’t quite that). That works to a good effect, and goes along with the game’s sense of humor. Which is really the saving grace of the game. Being primarily a shooter, I tend to find those boring single-player (and I no longer have interest in playing them multiplayer), but they had enough laughs to keep me going (the one that I liked most was in one of the DLCs where the MacGuffin is a (paraphrased) “Wireless Information Reading/Encoding Device, or W.I.R.E.D. — wait, that’s a terrible acronym for something wireless”). The sequel appears to have been better received, so on to the steam wishlist it goes.
Instead of just levels, action is doled out in quests. The upside is that you have regular breaks built in, and quest markers to guide you. The downsides are first that you can only have one active quest tracked on the map at a time, so you have to switch back and forth between quest list and map to find the nearest objective, and second that the quests (and enemies) are heavily keyed to level. If you fight something a few levels under you, it’s a one-shot kill with with a sniper rifle to the torso. If you fight something a few levels above you, it takes like 6 headshots. The bosses present the greatest challenge, and the bosses appear in the story-related quests, so you’re basically forced to do all the side quests to level up to make the bosses doable.
The RPG elements are very minimal. The story is thin, and you make no decisions in it. You just kill shit and the story happens to you. And you just gain experience and get to choose traits for your character, to make you more effective with certain weapons or whatever.
They have both vehicles and a fast travel system to cut down on the traveling between locations, which is good, but the implementation is frustrating. They could have done a lot to cut down on the travel time, especially in the DLC (I grabbed the Game of the Year version… General Knoxx > Claptrap Revolution > Zombie Island > Underdome Riot, if anyone cars). I did find it funny that prior to Claptrap in Poker Night, Moxxie was the only character I knew from the series, but she doesn’t even appear until the DLC. Annoyingly, it has several unskippable company logos at the beginning. I had to do some googling to find out I had to fiddle with some .ini files to not have to learn that 2K Games and Gearbox published/made it, and that it’s best played with nvidia every single time I started it.