|Min OS X: 10.6
|Borderlands: Game Of The Year Edition
January 31, 2011 | Jon Carr
Borderlands combines smooth shooting with the addictive loot generation and variety of the Diablo series. The game boasts "87 Bazillion guns" using a random item generation system. It's hard to verify the truth of that statement, but the game does seem to have a near endless arsenal to find or pick up. You will never come across the exact same gun twice, which lends weight to every item's value. Every class can also equip a shield, a grenade modification, and a class mod which boosts their action skill and other abilities. As with any RPG you'll end up collecting a lot of items that you simply sell for cash, but you will frequently find more powerful items and gear to equip which will keep you happily blasting anything that moves from the start to finish.
Partway into the development process Gearbox radically changed the visual style, which has truly paid off. From the generic look of the Unreal Engine 3, Gearbox transformed it into a colorful and visual treat. Everything carries a bright and distinctive look, with great looking textures, landscapes, and character modeling and particle effects. Explosions and the various elemental effects in particular never get old. Sound also gets a strong mention, with powerful sounding guns, amusing voice acting, and rousing music during battles and epic encounters.
The game easily earns its M rating with some language, but mainly the fountains of blood spurting from exploded heads, and limbs flying upon explosive deaths. Yet it never takes itself too seriously, with plenty of humor injected into the foes and the violence. Animations are excellent, with a variable hit system which means your enemies will get stunned, stumble, or die in different ways depending on what guns you are using, or angle from which you are firing.
Achievements are also gained as you play, which awards you experience for doing things like using every type of gun, killing a certain amount of creatures, or getting enough hang time in a vehicle. It's rewarding to suddenly gain an unexpected experience boost while doing something like driving around or in the middle of a battle. You can also view a list of achievements and your progress towards them in one of the several menu tabs.
Singleplayer is well enough, but the experience really shines in Co-op mode where you and up to 3 other people (preferably friends) can take on the missions and hordes of Pandora together. The classes compliment each other well, and you can share loot by dropping it. The difficulty also ramps up with each new person joining, which also means the chance to find better items. There are really only two downsides to Co-op mode: One, only the host makes story progress, which means that if you play too much in other people's games and not your own you will be overpowered when playing your own missions. And two, the multiplayer requires use of the GameRanger application, which does provide cross-platform play, so you'll never be waiting for a game. GameRanger is a good app, but at the same time it's inconvenient to have to use a separate application for Co-Op. However the game's LAN functionality is all built in.
The story is light and doesn't always provide much of a motivation to move forward, but the game is so good in every other aspect it's hard to complain. It's enough of a premise to get you going, but still could have used a stronger ending. Even when you do finish the game, you can make a 2nd play-through, which scales the difficulty and item drops appropriately to your higher level. Fortunately the DLC packs (which you can buy separately if you don't have the GOTY version) provide a lot of extra content and variety to extend the game's life.