First Level: Borderlands (PS3)

If I am being totally honest, Borderlands would not normally be my sort of game. It claims to be neither an FPS nor an RPG, but a RPS. So is it genre defining stuff?  Well, lets start with the most prominent feature, the visuals. It reminds me of the old PS2, Xbox and Gamecube game, XIII. It is certainly different from any new game in recent times and should be applauded for being outside the box. There is a living, breathing world out there to explore, all in stunning cel-shade-o-vision.

Then there are the guns. Lots of guns. Lots and lots of guns. Snipers, pistols, SMGs, the list goes on. You name it, Borderlands has it. The majority have a very meaty feel and respond exactly as you expect. However, having so many guns is a little daunting and I didn’t find it especially clear as to which guns are best for which scenario. Every kill gains you precious XP to level up which is always addicting. In fact, the whole game revolves around the score chase for XP, leveling up and even bigger and better weapons.

But one thing is for certain, this is not your usual shooting game. First up, it is an open world, like Far Cry 2 only smaller and with loading times between each area. You complete various missions and side quests in order to progress through the story. At times is can be a grind. Traveling between each level or marker point will mean confronting enemies and little Skags (annoying, jumping mutated dogs). Sometimes this can be a drag and drains health and ammo before you actually get to the main mission.

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But this is reduced with the introduction of vehicles, and while they speed up long distance traveling, their handling takes a little getting used to as you steer and aim the cross-hair of your gun with the right stick at the same time. So you drive forward and not so much as steer round corners but aim round them. It’s a little clunky but can be acclimatised to.

Also, sometimes the mission structure can be a little repetitive. Go here, kill these people, get that and come back is pretty much how each level pans out and the inventory isn’t the clearest of things to navigate. Certainly, shooting droves and droves of Skags, Midgets and Bandit Raiders can get to be a bit of a drag, however the sense of achievement after a level is over is always great. Plus, being able to play co-op throughout is always a major boon. I for one am glad to see another co-op game and when you both work together to defeat a rival, it tastes all the sweeter for doing it alongside a friend. The online co-op works a treat too, but playing alone is missing the point and it all feels desperately lonely doing so. Not a game for people with no friends then.

So far I have enjoyed playing Borderlands. The leveling up and grinding elements of gameplay very much mimic an RPG, while the massive guns and explosions are from more straight forward shooters. A unique visual style and co-op play all add up to something that is very different in a market full of sequels and movie tie-ins. I haven’t even mentioned the massive, mutated monsters that you will encounter. A breath of fresh air, but it won’t appeal to everyone.

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