Borderlands" src="http://gogaminggiant.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/borderlands.png" alt="Borderlands" width="600" height="200" />
Borderlands in short is a science fiction role-playing shooter. It is in development by Gearbox Software, makers of the Brothers in Arms series and the PC port of Halo. The game will release on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Games For Windows PC. The way Gearbox is going about this game can be summed up in two words: risky and unique.
The game is powered by the Unreal Engine 3, but it isn’t used in the typical way. About one year ago, the art for everything in the game was done, with the typical Unreal Engine, however, the artists had no idea what to do with still a year left before the game released. So they decided to take a risk and change the art style completely. Many people say it is cell shaded, but this is incorrect. The style the developers prefer to use is, “concept art” style. Basically the goal was to make everything look like the concept art, because concept art is sometimes the best creations, and is greatly inspiring. Even the box art is unique, and a risk that 2K was more than willing to take. In our opinion this was a good thing, before the game was just another Unreal Engine game, and now it is much more than that.
The biggest hype about Borderlands has been about one thing. Weapons. There are over 650,000 weapons in the game, and Randy Pitchford, the co-founder of Gearbox, says that this is erring on the “safe side”. That is a whole lot of guns. In fact there is a whole AI, dedicated just to generating the weapons. Most of the time you will receive the guns when looting after battles and such. However, there are vendors that sell the weapons as well. The guns are color coded based on what they do. When the name of the weapon is white is a common weapon, green is just one step up, blue follows that, which is followed by purple, the rarest weapons in the game. Their are other visual keys as well, more accurate weapons have longer barrels, guns that hold more ammo have a longer clip, etc. It really is a very good idea, and we can’t wait to compare weapons with our friends.
Our friends? Yes, our friends, believe it or not, there is four player co-op in Borderlands. The good thing about this, is that you use your character, no matter what. Playing by yourself and feel like jumping into a party with three other people, you use the same character. Everything is drop-in, drop-out, even split-screen works that way. You carry all your loot from game to game, you never lose anything. This comes in handy when driving a vehicle, yes there are vehicles, and they are just as customizable as the weapons. You can have one person driving and the other gunning. Or all four of you can go loot a bandit camp. The game automatically adjusts as people join. With more people, there are not only more enemies, but they are tougher as well. Also, you can play through the whole story together, there is no limit with the co-op. The only thing that you can not do, is take split-screen online. Believe it or not, out of the four characters, which we will discuss later, you can play whoever you want. You can all be the same character if you choose to do so. Looting will become the new addiction, seems almost World of Warcraft like.
Another little option, believe it or not, in predominately co-op game, is the option to fight your friends. In this competitive mode, you need to approach one of your squad mates, and melee him, he will have a couple seconds to melee back, and once he does so, the battle is on. An energy shield is instantly built around the two players, plus any other enemies inside the field, so yes, you can do this in the middle of a fight. The players then fight to the death, granted, the loser exits the field in a Gears of War like “down but not out” state, where they must be healed by a teammate or kill enemies to regain the health. There is also an arena where you can temporarily change each persons level, and weapon loadout, then fight to the death. We personally can not wait for this because there are not many RPGs out there that support four player online co-op.
The story in Borderlands is quite unique, the game takes place on Pandora, a planet on the frontiers of humanities colonies. The planets are settled when a ship is sent, which slams into the planet, and once everyone has embarked, it folds out to become the new towns walls. The planet is huge and it’s orbit around the sun is massive, which means days and years are longer than on Earth. The colonists arrived in winter, and the game takes place during the spring thaw. Therefore the planet’s creatures are just now coming out of hibernation. The reason the colonists came here in the first place was to look for a massive alien weapons cache, rumored to be on the planet, and now is a more dangerous time than ever. Sounds really interesting to us.
There are four classes of characters to choose from. Roland, who is a soldier, an expert with all weapons, but especially shotguns and assault rifles. His power is deploying a shield with turret. Mordecai is a hunter, who is agile and is equipped with a sword. His weapon specialty is sniper rifles, he has a pet “Bloodwing”, a falcon-like creature, who can literally rip his enemies apart. Lileth, the girl of the group, is a “Siren”, a magical type because of contact with alien technology. Last but not least is Brick, who is pretty much a tank. He loves to smash people with his fists, or blow them to bits with a rocket launcher. Each of these have augments that you can upgrade as you level up or loot. With the character upgrade and customization, you can pick your name and colors as usual. Which is a bit confusing, I’m not sure how this will work because as above, the characters already have there own name. Maybe it will be like Mass Effect except the game will lock in first names. I guess that we’ll have to wait and see.
As you can see, Borderlands offers a lot to gamers. Especially those with Xbox Live, the countless hours of raiding and looting with up to three of your friends. Not to mention trying to find your favorite weapons among the 650,000 plus that are in the game. I think that showing off what weapons you have will draw a lot of people to play co-op. Personally this was one of my biggest surprises of this fall, and I can’t wait to play the game come this October.
Borderlands is in development by Gearbox Software and is being published by 2K Games. It is being released on October 20, 2009.