This week on CPCG I’ll be making a bit of a departure from my usual pricing limit. Borderlands on Steam costs £19.99 for some reason, but you should probably be looking into getting the Game of the Year edition, which is…£19.99. No, I don’t know why.
Normally I would forgo the game as that’s about £5 above my usual pricing limit, but a combination of just how brilliant this game is and the inevitability of it being on sale in the now dangerously close Steam Summer Sale has pushed me towards covering it regardless.
It also helps that I’ve been playing it all weekend; I’m a sucker for anything with crazy loot and Borderlands contains some of the craziest.[drop]For those who don’t already know, Borderlands is a first person shooter like no other. Based around a loot system that contains (literally) millions of guns, the game is a FPS/RPG fan’s wet dream that enables you – yes you – to shoot rockets out of revolvers should you happen to find such a revolver.
Finding guns consists of them dropping from enemies and discovering them in chests, which fold out when you open them in a way that makes you giggle with glee. That giggle only intensifies into manic laughter once you discover a 4x incendiary shotgun with 56×11 damage and an increased ammo capacity.
As you might find in any other extensive loot system (read: RPG), weapons and their stats are randomly generated, with some unique weapons that you can find by killing the right (boss) enemy. There are four elemental effects that weapons can roll with; incendiary, corrosive, static or explosive.
Incendiary weapons have a chance to set enemies on fire (enemies on fire take more damage), corrosive weapons can tear through armour incredibly quickly and splash onto other enemies, static weapons are more effective against shields (and can electrocute enemies) and explosive weapons have a chance of exploding on hit, dealing massive damage. The likelihood of these effects occurring is indicated on the weapon’s stats, with a 1x, 2x, 3x or 4x showing the likelihood (the higher the number, the better the chance).
The chances of elemental effects occurring can also be affected by your chosen character. Lilith, the Siren, has skills (which you put skill points into whenever you level up) that can increase the likelihood and effectiveness of elemental effects.
Whilst Lilith is best with elemental weaponry, the other three classes obviously all have different advantages. Moredecai is a hunter, most proficient with revolvers and sniper rifles; Brick is best with explosive weaponry and shotguns as well as skills that make him suited for being up close and tanking damage; whilst Roland is a soldier, skilled with all weapons (though still prefers shotguns and combat rifles).[drop2] Each class also has a special ability; Lilith, for example, can Phasewalk, which has her entering another dimension, rendering her invisible to enemies and enabling her to move much more quickly. Entering and exiting Phasewalk also triggers an explosion, dealing damage to all enemies in the vicinity. Roland, however, can drop a turret that will automatically target enemies and provide you with some cover. Mordecai can send his trusty alien bird Bloodwing to deal high damage to an enemy, and Brick’s special ability is a berserker rage that has him getting his fists out and dealing very high melee damage.
All of this fanciness wouldn’t be of much importance if the shooting mechanics weren’t up to scratch. Thankfully, they are; shooting feels solid and responsive, and although some guns can feel like they lack punch (most notably pistols), most feel meaty and substantial.
(read: RPG)This is all backed up by a healthy (and often laugh out loud funny) sense of humour, cel-shaded graphics and a four player cooperative multiplayer that ramps the difficulty up appropriately. You might want to learn where the chests are, however, since all the loot is shared and if you get there too late the guns worth grabbing will all be gone. You can even duel your friends should you so desire, or deathmatch against them in an arena.
Borderlands is honestly some of the most fun I’ve had in first person. Combining tight shooting mechanics with the obsessive loot-gathering of a Diablo-like, I shudder to think of the effect its sequel will have on my social life. Though I still await it impatiently.
As mentioned previously, Borderlands GOTY is £19.99 on Steam, though you’ll want to wait and see if it’s on sale when Valve unleash the wallet-destroyer over the coming weeks. Should you not be willing to wait, the base version of the game is available in the OnLive Playpack bundle, which is £7 a month, not to mention that you can trial the game there too. If you’re okay with a physical version of the game, you can get it from Amazon for £11.57. System requirements are through the Steam link.