Borderlands is touted as a breakthrough RPS (Role Playing Shooter). The only breakthrough is the successful implementation of cell-shading to give the world an anime/graphic-novel feel in the vein of Geoff Darrow (Hard Boiled) or Mike Osadciw (SSDC, Battlelords). The gameplay is setup to grind your way to a boss; upgrading gear along the way and occasionally purchasing something of use from the vending-machines (stores) with all the cash you accumulate.It appears the only reason it has the appellation of Role Playing in the Shooter part is that there are character levels and skill points for various %-age type abilities (like extra damage, resist damage).
What it does well:
- Graphic design: the planet looks like it’s been strip-mined and abandoned
- Weapons and special effects, funky gear
- Shield units with nice extra-abilities like healing or fire-resistance
- Driving a vehicle that is pretty good with a mouse
- Weird and massive creatures
- Hints of a much wider “galaxy”
- Everything is “spawned” and it resets at fixed times. S
- Creatures that are ostensibly human beings but are 10 feet tall and tougher than a tank.
- Spawning out of “generators” creates the feel of the most sophisticated version of gauntlet yet. Spawn-points are doorways and caves that the player can’t enter or destroy. So there’s little portals that spew out psycho bandits and mercenaries and there is nothing you can do about.
- Money has little worth except for gear.
- Vehicles are limitless and free (only 2 active instances of vehicles at a time, though)
- So many buildings are not accesible because they are just spawn-generators.
- Lack of depth.
- Seamed levels that are not well-designed. Each area feels more like a dungeon than a place.
What would have made it better:
An element of survival. Food? Sleep? Water? Other people besides intangible loiterers in the “towns”, mission givers and the ever spawning bandits. I think there are only 3 women on Pandora: Patricia Tannis, Commandant Steele and Helena Pearce.
For all its faults it has hit the right “balance” of struggle vs. rewards. Looting is great fun and if you like guns then you’ll have a great time. They have varying sounds and appearances that are quite satisfying. There’s nothing about it that really deserves the moniker of Role Playing. It is just a shooter.