Friday, 8 March 2013


Quick one.

Borderlands, the FPS/"Action RPG" crossover that was all the rage back in 2009 (and most of RAGE in 2011). The world likes this one. I don't.

Yes, Borderlands, otherwise known as "shoot Jason Voorhees", which within the last four years has been upgraded to "Game of the Year (2009)" and "Xbox Classics" status, because having a low set of collective standards is cool and rad. Sure it's secretly a terrible and frustrating mess with few redeemable qualities, but hey, give it 80+ marks on Metacritic - honest, educated and non-biased journalism for lyfe. It doesn't even take place on the border of any lands! Come on guys!

So as you can imagine, Borderlands and I had a bit of a misunderstanding - I thought positive labels and press coverage were side effects of a good game, but apparently the reverse is true as well (who knew?). In reality, very little on this disc has pulled off well - it's an adventure between numerous brown locations shooting the same handful of enemies in the face, with cheaply done graphics rarely venturing from murky browns, and a predictably minimalist approach to audio. To top it off, bucketloads of tedious (and bad) RPG grinding pad out the experience in some of the most frustrating ways imaginable. It's oh so swell.

Borderlands is a product meant to be played in groups, but you'll be happy to know that most of the the problems are constants regardless of who you subject to the experience. Vehicle controls are broken, the user interface is one of the worst I've seen in modern times and don't expect any memorable NPCs or plot elements - it's neither a good action game nor a good RPG, and I can only imagine the emphasis on co-op is to distract you from it's blatant flaws.

But above all else are the issues surrounding Borderlands' basic structure - the first five or six hours are horrendous, with ammo counts, health, shields and patience all running perilously thin for reasons I can't quite fathom. Once the game starts treating you to the ability to equip more than two weapons (remember when this was a given?), things start to pick up, but never does Borderlands achieve a state of abject brilliance. Indeed, life only improves because your guns gain the ability to kill things - it turns into a functional FPS/RPG hybrid, but never into a spectacular one, and it certainly doesn't hide the fact it starts off almost unplayable (and that's not an exaggeration - it's among the worst I've seen).

Even at its peak, Borderlands is a repetitive, dull and surprisingly unpolished experience, so how it manages to topple Saints Row 2, Assassin's Creed II and the billion-seller Angry Birds for top game of 2009 is anyone's guess. Though tolerable and at some points, strangely addictive, unless you have friends it's totally worth avoiding, and of course, truly insulting that it qualified for a sequel.

1 comment:

  1. Funny how this game has more enemy variety than most other modern FPS games but it's still so mind-numbingly repetitive.