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Default RPGWatch Feature: Borderlands Review

December 18th, 2009, 00:54
It's definitely more shooter than RPG by a long way but is it any good? We delve into Borderlands in our latest review with the main critique written by txa1265 and additional closing comments from Skavenhorde. Here's a sample:
Borderlands features 160 missions, with 56 related to the main storyline and the other 104 side missions simply there to help you gain more money and experience and items. That sounds like a ton of stuff, and it really is! You will be busy with tons of quests and combat and action for dozens of hours! In terms of length you will spend around 30 hours getting through the game in solo mode or in co-op, at which point you can take your character at the level you finished (probably ~30) and start a new game and face more challenging enemies until you max out at level 50. Given four characters and perhaps three builds per character, along with playing co-op missions with friends, it is possible to put more than a couple hundred hours into Borderlands to see everything it has to offer. If you manage that, more power to you!

But as most folks know, there is a significant difference between loads of busy-work and a satisfying experience. And sadly I found the majority of quests in Borderlands to be busy-work. There were quirky characters, such as the guy who wants you to go on a killing spree and fetch back his leg. Or the guy who was standing around 24/7 just waiting to hand me the all-important quest to go into a different zone, and pick up the missing flux capacitor to help finish the chronosynclastic infundibulum generator (I made that one up, but it might as well have been true). The short story leading up to the quest is invariably more interesting than anything that happens later. It can be argued that missions in shooters are all 'go here, wipe out everything, walk over widget A and return'. But for contrast, the recent Red Faction Guerrilla had missions where things would twist and turn mid-stream, where there would be multiple in-mission interactions, and an overall more complex and satisfying structure.
Read it all here.
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December 18th, 2009, 00:54
You know, despite the negative comments, I kind of came out of reading this with more interest. If the right deal comes up, I might grab it.

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December 18th, 2009, 01:34
"Chronosynclastic infundibulum" - I like it! Can we reverse the polarity of its neutron flow?
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December 18th, 2009, 02:54
I have been playing this game for several weeks on the PC and had 20+ hours of LAN 4 player co-op and and as a action shooter it is alot of fun. I have to agree with all the glaring errors and glitches like the rocket launcher. The biggest beef I have with it is the crappy port over from the console that was done, especially after the company mouth piece Pichford was all over how the game was taking advantage of the PC's strengths, and then there was the week delay to market for "optimization", the delay should have been a month and then it could have been so much better. At least I got it off steam for cheap, but now that the DLC is out what the hell is with the DRM and 5 install limit? I guess I will have to pass there, it is almost as if gearbox or 2k doesn't give a crap about its PC market and deliberately tries to give them an inferior or DRM riddled product.
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December 18th, 2009, 03:42
I had/am having great fun with it. For me it's defiantly more than the sum of it's parts. The "lewt whoring" aspect keeps me playing, albeit for only a few hours a week, not much else that I care to do. Steam says I've played 44 hours, so about a buck an hour entertainment? Damn good bargain, imho.
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December 18th, 2009, 04:12
It's a fun little shooter even if you're only playing the SP portion of the game. There are problems with the game, but they can be overlooked if you are just in it for some run and gun fun mixed in with some loot/basic leveling.

There is a lot of potential for the second one especially if they add in more skills, fix the hit detection and make the AI a bit smarter. For the first game sending hordes of enemies at you is fine, but if they want me to try out the second one I better see some improvement on those three issues.

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December 18th, 2009, 04:27
Originally Posted by Zloth View Post
"Chronosynclastic infundibulum" - I like it! Can we reverse the polarity of its neutron flow?
That term is a specific literary reference … in fact all of my section heads are always external references …

I have finally gotten the DLC and started playing again so I can do that as well. After being immersed in L4D2 and Torchlight for a while, I still feel Borderlands is pretty average as a shooter and pretty average as an action-RPG and never even attempts to be a 'real' RPG.

— Mike
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December 18th, 2009, 10:41
I just started this in earnest a few days ago. It seems ok; I like the humor, the graphics are kind of different. It has a certain 'style' that's unique. For a game that taunts 'loot' you sure can't carry very much of it, one of my primary complaints so far. The inventory needs to be WAY bigger, IMO. But overall, I agree with the review.
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December 18th, 2009, 15:25
You mention it's a fun game but not a good game. I highly disagree. I judge how good a game is by how fun it is.

You're right, the PC port did not live up to expectations or promises from a UI standpoint. The inventory screen needs a lot of help and the options menu doesn't have half the expected PC video or control options. The user made configuration tool on the official forums is great help with this. However the shooter controls have always felt spot on to me.

You're right, the ending is pretty poor and the story is dumb, however I think there was a lot of potential that was wasted in there. The premise and the ending were horrible but some of the writing ( especially the Tannis tapes ) and the tiny twist at the end with the Guardian Angel left me thinking there was some quality writing there hiding under a really dumb story.

You're probably right, but I haven't encountered the hit detection problems. I haven't used many rockets though, I've completed the game with Roland/assault rifles and have restarted with Lilith/smgs.

You're right, the inventory is limited but you're not supposed to haul around every piece of garbage that drops. Don't pick up white weapons when you know you're not heading towards a vending machine. You don't need to. Money is not a problem in the game after level 5.

I've had a lot more fun with Borderlands than I have with Dragon Age. Is it a hardcore RPG, no, absolutely not. But as someone else said the whole is more than the sum of it's parts. It does need one good polish patch to add some PC options and optimized inventory controls. But at the end of the day I think the Borderlands beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I've you want to play FPS Diablo, I highly recommend Borderlands. It's got style, the FPS controls are tight and while the terrain is repetitive I was usually having too much fun to notice.
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December 18th, 2009, 15:27
Originally Posted by Sir Markus View Post
I just started this in earnest a few days ago. It seems ok; I like the humor, the graphics are kind of different. It has a certain 'style' that's unique. For a game that taunts 'loot' you sure can't carry very much of it, one of my primary complaints so far. The inventory needs to be WAY bigger, IMO. But overall, I agree with the review.
The humor grates after awhile, imo.

The inventory does get bigger the farther you get into the game. In the beginning it is annoying how little you can carry. Towards the middle/end of the game you won't be looking for money so much so you won't have to be carrying stuff back to sell. Especially after you have upgraded your ammo and grenades to their maximum. Just pick and choose the best loot that was dropped or found and leave the junk.

Originally Posted by LuckyCarbon View Post
I've you want to play FPS Diablo, I highly recommend Borderlands. It's got style, the FPS controls are tight and while the terrain is repetitive I was usually having too much fun to notice.
I agree, except for the tight FPS controls. That needs to be worked on. I didn't notice as much as Mike did because I used a pistol, smg and repeating pistol, but anytime I tried out some of the other weapons the hit detection on them was horrible. However, the mechanics for the pistols were good. I had no problem hitting the targets head with a few well aimed shots. SMG and repeater were just a spray and pray type of gun.

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December 18th, 2009, 15:31
Good review.

I agree that the RPG elements are weak, even considered in terms of the already-shallow hack-and-slash genre. My biggest gripe here was that the extremely limited skill trees were not particularly imaginative. Perhaps this was exacerbated by my playing a Soldier. But level-ups involved things like 3% more bullet damage. In contrast to most RPGs, I found the levelling up process in Borderlands to be highly unimaginative. If you are going to have extremely limited skill trees, at least make the new skill aquisitions interesting.

I played about 30 hours or so, then stopped when Dragon Age came out. I'm finished with DA now but don't really feel like returning to Borderlands. It was a decent time-killer but the environments were bland, the enemies repetitive, and ultimately, collecting and comparing guns got tedious. I'm not much of a loot whore type gamer, though, so others may like that sort of thing.
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December 18th, 2009, 17:08
To say the RPG elements are weak is an understatement, Borderlands is pretty much a straight shooter to me.

What really turned me off though is how loot is simply scattered *everywhere*. You're supposed to be on this planet that's been scoured by treasure hunters for years, yet there's guns, ammo, and cash laying around every few feet. There's never any real feeling of accomplishment for finding anything, and that pretty much killed it for me.
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December 18th, 2009, 17:19
Originally Posted by JDR13 View Post
To say the RPG elements are weak is an understatement, Borderlands is pretty much a straight shooter to me.

What really turned me off though is how loot is simply scattered *everywhere*. You're supposed to be on this planet that's been scoured by treasure hunters for years, yet there's guns, ammo, and cash laying around every few feet. There's never any real feeling of accomplishment for finding anything, and that pretty much killed it for me.
What about scheduals? Do npc's at least have scheduals?
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December 18th, 2009, 17:28
Originally Posted by rune_74 View Post
What about scheduals? Do npc's at least have scheduals?
No, there's really no day or night cycle, some enemies will patrol an area until the spot you. Quest/friendly NPCs don't even move from the spot they stand in, literally.

There's no dialog choices or NPC interaction. No love story here, thank god!

Remember Diablo? How Cain and the smith were always standing in the same spots next to the well? Pretend you're playing that as a FPS with guns. That's Borderlands.

JDR, I like to think those guns are the treasure for the bandits. What use is treasure when the only thing to spend it on is more guns and bullets? It's like Mad Max, water, ammo and gas are the 3 most valuable things in a wasteland.
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December 18th, 2009, 20:56
I have put well over 150 hours into this game (most days, I really need to shoot a zombie midget in the head to feel good about life), as I have a friend who got it late, and made me go over everything again (with several characters, in co-op). I agree with almost all of the comments, and a bulk of the review itself. This game had its issues. This game is a weak, weak RPG offering. But you know what, sometimes I get really friggin sick of RPG's (sacrilegious, I know). If RPG's were all D2's on the action side, or PS:T on the core side, I might not feel this way. Instead I get disappointed time and time again, year after year, with half-assed offerings. So, that said, I welcome games like Borderlands. Just enough (if barely) RPG to get my attention, and one of the most solid shooters I have played in many years. I would have given it a 4-4.5 stars, but understand the 3, as this is an RPG forum, and this is not an RPG.

The review was so extensive that I doubt I could add much (though, I would argue the sniper focus for the hunter, as the gunslinger tree offered a much more satisfying experience); however, as I have tried every possible major character archetype, I would be happy to field any questions. Oh, and the lack of a shared stash was the bone headed decision of the decade, thus far.
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December 18th, 2009, 22:06
Originally Posted by LuckyCarbon View Post
It's like Mad Max, water, ammo and gas are the 3 most valuable things in a wasteland.

Mad Max was a lot more realistic in that those things were actually scarce.
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December 26th, 2009, 11:14
Nice review - I like this game -> It's a pure shooter in my opinion with a few rpg elements thrown in.

PS:
to deactivate the startup movies edit WillowEngini.ini:

[FullScreenMovie]
//StartupMovies=2K_logo
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//StartupMovies=NVidia
//StartupMovies=Loading
//SkippableMovies=2K_logo
//SkippableMovies=Gearbox_logo
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January 8th, 2010, 00:46
I've played a bit of this game. Its sort of fun and sort of funny but if you are looking for any depth or real atmosphere you are probably better off trying Fallout 3.

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January 8th, 2010, 00:54
Originally Posted by ToddMcF2002 View Post
I've played a bit of this game. Its sort of fun and sort of funny but if you are looking for any depth or real atmosphere you are probably better off trying Fallout 3.
The comedy sort of kills the atmosphere imo. I don't mind a little humor here and there (DA did it perfectly) but Borderlands feels like it's trying too hard.
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January 8th, 2010, 02:21
Yup. I'm only about an hour into each game, but Fallout 3, even if it feels like Oblivion with guns is the real deal. Borderlands is going on the back burner I'm afraid.

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