In 2009, developer Gearbox teamed up with publisher 2K Games to release Borderlands to commercial and critical success on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 among other various platforms. The first-person shooter combined RPG elements, an open sandbox, and a wealth of characters to stamp the original Borderlands into the gaming industry. Today, I’ll be reviewing the PlayStation 3 version. Let’s load up on weapons, and catch a ride into this Borderlands review!
Borderlands is set on the fictional planet, Pandora. This desert planet is ruled by bandits, dangerous wildlife, and vault hunters. What is a vault hunter you ask? A vault hunter is an individual who is seeking the rumored vaults on Pandora that contain alien treasure and technology. A vault hunter not only must find the secret vaults but learn how to open them.
Mega-Corporations rule the Borderlands universe and the Atlas Corporation first uncovered some of the alien technology in vaults allowing them to grow and overtake some of their rivals. Looks for more alien vaults, they turn their search to Pandora but ultimately have to pull out due to the overwhelming wildlife and unfriendly natives. A new corporation has since moved in, the Dahl Corp brought with it thousands of inmates and criminals to help keep the dangerous wildlife at bay while workers mined or searched for the vaults.
After discovering that the vault is real, the Dahl Corp sends a message back to headquarters which is intercepted by the Atlas Corp. With the discovery of the vault, Atlas sends a private mercenary force called the Crimson Lance to hunt for the vault. Dahl abandons the hopes of opening the vault and leaves behind its massive convict force. As the vault hunters descend on Pandora, they face dangerous wildlife, gangs of bandits, and mercenary thugs.
The Vault Hunter is contacted by Patricia Tannis after defeating a few of the bandit leaders on Pandora. She confides in the hunter that the vault is real and that it can only be opened once every two-hundred years and the time for it to open is approaching. The hunter secures pieces to the vault key as they prepare to open the vault. The Crimson Lance commander contacts the vault hunter and reveals they’ve been betrayed by Tannis and promptly cuts off the planet’s communication system that is similar to a walkie-talkie signal.
Storming the Crimson Lance base on Pandora the vault hunter discovers that Tannis was imprisoned and forced to betray them. The vault hunter rushes to the vault having to battle ancient guardians along the way. When the vault hunter reaches the vault, they see the Crimson Lance commander has successfully opened the vault and is now battling a huge monster called the “Destroyer”. The Vault Hunter joins the fight only to witness the Destroyer gobble up the Crimson Lance. After killing the Destroyer, the vault is sealed for another 200 years locking the vault hunters out.
Borderlands offers a lot to players in a variety of gameplay elements. Everything is customizable starting with which character you select. You have four choices on who you take your journey with, each with different powers and abilities. My favorite thing about Borderlands is the option to play couch co-op throughout the entire game. I’ve played Borderlands three times, twice by myself and once with my wife. The best time by far was playing with my wife and seeing her react to the characters and battles. (She enjoys Harvest Moon and Overcooked for a perspective of her tastes)
I chose to play as Roland who is your typical soldier who totes an assault rifle around. My wife played as Brick a big brawler who fights with his fists as well as his guns. There’s also Lilith who is a siren, a type of mage in the game, and Mordecai who is similar to a scout. I wish I had to do a Borderlands review with each of the characters but I only have so much time.
Guns, guns, and guns! Borderlands has countless guns to choose from. Every character you kill will likely drop a weapon that you can choose to use if you’d like. There are 17 million guns in Borderlands, yes you read that correct, 17 million! Each gun has special features, looks, or abilities like freezing, fire, acid, or shock bullets. There are six different types of guns, you’ll carry sniper rifles, bazookas, pistols, sub-machine guns, assault rifles, and shotguns. With all these options you can imagine that quite a lot of thought goes into selecting which guns you carry. You can have four on hand, and about 30-40 in your backpack. You also use grenades and electric shields so you can see where customizing what you carry is a critical part of Borderlands.
You’ll face numerous enemies, mostly human enemies but there is the occasional encounter with the wildlife. Most enemies are the bandits, like psychos, midgets, and the crimson lance. All are quirky and have some type of one-liner to yell at you when they attack.
Pandora is an open world to explore with 127 missions to complete. My wife and I spent as much time completing all the side missions which totaled around 80 to level up gaining new powers and strengths to add to our characters. The missions are your typical “Hey go kill this guy” or fetch quests, but all had their charm. Games that offer tons of content tend to do well in my reviews, and this Borderland review certainly fits that mold.
Bosses are another fantastic part of Borderlands. Every mission we started I was excited to see the conclusion end with a boss. Just to name a few of my favorites King Wee Wee a midget boss, Sledge, and Master McCloud. The final boss was kind of a disappointment as the Destroyer was some blob who didn’t put up much of a fight.
The humor and dialogue make Borderlands special. The writers knew how to craft each character to make us laugh and enjoy interacting with them. I couldn’t write this review without mentioning Claptrap. I hated him at first, tossing him aside like a square trash can, but as the game progressed I enjoyed returning to him time after time to hear him talk about a mission or trying to make himself sound important.
Borderlands is much more fun with another player, so I encourage you to find someone to sit on the couch with you for a week or two and take down the Crimson Lance. When I first popped in Borderlands my wife (then girlfriend) commented within ten seconds on how she thought the game was stupid because of the graphics. She had never played a game with cell-shading before and didn’t know what to think about it, but after an hour of playing, she loved the game and all its quirks. She too especially loved Claptrap.
We spent the next few weeks playing through Borderlands and when we were finished, she wanted to do it all over again. I was happy to introduce her to a franchise where the goal wasn’t to grow a garden or cook food. We have since gone on to play all the other Borderlands together. Now if only I could get her to write a Borderlands review!
Borderlands Review Score:
Due to the massive wealth of guns in the game, Borderlands will be a different game every run through. The characters stick out, the missions are fun and the leveling up is addicting. This mesh of a first-person shooter and RPG was a big hit and I recommend playing it with friends. There are so many secrets to discover and lots of treasure in the form of guns to uncover. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Borderlands if you haven’t!
Borderlands scores an 8.9 out of 10.
What would you write in your Borderlands review? What did you think of Borderlands when it first came out? Did you play it by yourself or with a friend? Which character did you select and did you enjoy the boss fights? What did you think of Claptrap? Let me know your thoughts and memories of Borderlands, I’d love to read them!