Over the past several years we have begun to see an increase in cooperative based games moving away from the massive amount of first person shooters with a multitude of game modes and onto games that use more of a cooperative approach. A lot of this trend had to do with the varying degree of difficulty to get into online experiences as many games are plagued with avid fans who become so highly skilled in that particular game that casual fans can often times get the short end of the stick. 2K Games and Gearbox have teamed up to do a cooperative based FPS which hopes to bring in fans of MMO’s as well as FPS together to enjoy their latest offering in Borderlands. Does this game have what it takes to stand out in this packed holiday lineup? Read our full review to find out!
I should begin this review by mentioning that I am a big fan of MMO’s, although recently I haven’t been drawn to deep into one I have been a part of many in my days. Borderlands at first glance is going to remind a lot of people of your typical MMO without actually being one. Borderlands can be played by yourself or cooperatively online with a few friends. What I think has gotten the attention of so many is that you can seamlessly play this game by yourself, play for a few hours with a few friends, and then continue on by yourself. Gearbox has made sure to not solely rely on an online or offline experience but has allowed the user to choose their own path.
The comparison has not been made all that often, but Borderlands is some very abstract ways reminds me of an old Sony Online Entertainment game Planetside, which was a FPS MMO. Although that game was before its time the real problem was not the execution it was the mechanics. Borderlands in a lot of ways is the same in that the outline of the game is really quite spectacular but a lot of the mechanics are not as solid. One of my big gripes for Borderlands is the FPS mechanics which are a bit off the wall, and don’t necessarily work as well as many of the FPS that we have on tap this year. Its not that the mechanics are bad, there just isn’t a big enough variance between weapons, and often times the shooting doesn’t feel as strong as we have seen so many games.
Playing Borderlands as a single player experience is an interesting game to review as Borderlands was really created to be an cooperative experience. The setup for Borderlands is going to be very familiar to someone who has played an MMO. You go off to get a quest, complete the quest, and go back and get the experience for the quest. This is a tried and true mechanic that has been used over and over and works really well in Borderlands. The game has a really nice pacing and makes the experience challenging while not making you want to throw your controller at the screen. The game gives a nice guide to where you need to go and what you need to accomplish without being to invasive in the experience.
Really though what Borderlands boils down to is the cooperative play which is really where the game shines. Borderlands is well equipped to be played with friends as it has a really nice way of dealing with more human users. Instead of keeping the game stagnant, the game adds more enemies and even higher level enemies to counteract the additional players. This keeps the cooperative action fun and challenging, while still allowing you to level up throughout the game. There is no cap on what level you can or cannot play with so if you are reaching the end of the game and a friend just picks it up you can still help your friend level through out the game. All in all the cooperative play is definitely the brightest point in the game and makes for a good online experience.
I won’t say Borderlands has a fully cel shaded appearance but it definitely has a very unique art style that very few games of this genre have gone after before. Borderlands takes place is a desert style world so its not overly populated but the arid landscape still has style. The gun play is a little underwhelming and a lot of the explosives talk a good game on paper but they can be a bit stale in actuality. More then anything Borderlands does its best work by keeping everything very capable while online or offline.
There are very few games that can keep my interest for the amount of hours that Borderlands was able to accomplish. What really struck me about this game was that it managed to continually engage by offering up a very accessible cooperative experience. If you do get in a group with different classes then you can also see this dynamic become very useful and entertaining. The game does lack in the story department like many of its predecessors as its a bit lackluster in its storytelling abilities. All in all the game does enough to keep you engaged while still managing to keep your attention on the quests laid out before you.
Borderlands is a really solid game that does deserve a look this holiday season. Being more of a single player gamer on the consoles I was a bit let down by the games lack of attention to the single player element, but was extremely impressed with the cooperative play. All in all Borderlands is a very solid outing that although contains some minor hiccups deserves a definite look in this jam packed holiday season. Be warned though, this game can take up a ton of your time.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.