Borderlands Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360PS3PC

Sci-fi role-playing shooterfrom Brothers in Arms creators.

Review Verdict Read Review
8Out of 10
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I am standing over corpses: dead Skags, Mutant Midget Psychos and Badass Bruisers. Each one killed by a unique tool of destruction. I'm talking, of course, about guns. My guns - and my guns are different to yours.

I killed the Skag - a dog-like beast with giant teeth and a gaping, Predator-esque mouth - with a BLR Static Repeater: a handgun with a scope and a chance to electrocute enemies. I killed the Mutant Midget Psycho, a gibbering, squealing dwarfish abomination, with the GGN490 Solid Sniper Rifle: a devastating long range weapon with +150 per cent critical hit damage. But I saved the best for last. I killed the Badass Bruiser, a hulking tank of a man, with the SG330 Static Shotgun: a death dealer that spews out seven shells at once, each doing 29 points of damage. Each weapon is unique. Each weapon is different. But is this what Borderlands is all about?

Gearbox's science fiction shooter has caused quite a stir. Why? Because it's hard to classify. Humans don't like this. We like to order things, labelling them with clear and concise descriptions and placing them into grey filing cabinets. That's an RPG. That's an FPS. That's an MMO. Borderlands is none of these things. Borderlands is all of these things.

Borderlands is a science fiction shooter best played with friends. It's an FPS/RPG hybrid. It's Diablo in first-person. It's Hellgate: London, but better. It's Fallout 3 wearing XIII's clothes. It's Left 4 Dead with quests. Has that cleared it up for you?

The game begins with a choice that will be familiar to anyone who's played a role-playing game: what class should I play? In Borderlands there are four options: Roland, the soldier, deploys turrets; Lilith, the Siren, can become invisible; Mordecai, the Hunter, uses a bird like a homing grenade; and Brick, well… Brick is a tank who likes to let his fists do the talking.

I think he can see you

I think he can see you

At level one you begin your journey to find the Vault, a mythical place that promises wealth, power and women. It's hidden somewhere on the post-apocalyptic, 2000AD-inspired planet Pandora. You're a merc, dumped from the back of a bus onto the sandy roads and guided by a Cortana-like Guardian Angel who appears out of nowhere with warm words of encouragement. This is the set-up: a simple premise devoid of complicated narrative and fluffy plot. You're here to make your fortune in a brutal, alien Wild West.

Almost from the get-go Borderlands shows that it has taken what's worst about MMOs - the uninspiring quests - and used them to generate 60-odd hours worth of gameplay. Voiceless NPCs dish out repetitive quests of the 'go here and kill X/flip switch/grab item then come back for experience points' variety. Quest text goes unread. Background info goes unabsorbed. Clear, useful map waypoints make redundant the reasons behind your rampage.

Despite slight variations, all quests have one thing in common: they involve shooting the living crap out of Pandora's bad guys and bad things. Pandora's inhabitants are… a tad unhinged. To be honest, they're completely mental. From the Mad Max style goons high on psychotic love juice to the Skags, Rakk (demonic birds), insect things and creepy ghosts, the enemies almost steal the show. Borderlands is at its best when you're shooting stuff. The controls are tight, headshots are satisfying (despite the odd collision detection issue), the weapons carry weight, and the general FPS feel is just what you'd expect from a developer with years of Brothers in Arms development under its belt.

It's a shame, then, that it's all too repetitive. The post-apocalyptic environments, while colourful and buoyed by the comic book art style, soon feel samey. The enemies you kill, too, despite being well-designed and perfectly in keeping with the over-the-top tone of the game, soon lose their appeal. Skags are perhaps the worst culprits of this particular crime: when you finally get to leave the opening area, after a good few hours of play, you're more excited by the prospect of not aggro-ing any more of the bastards than by the thought of looting shiny new weapons.

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User Comments

scaz2244's Avatar


any1 fancy a co op on it im stuck :D
Posted 21:59 on 22 November 2009
Diesel22's Avatar


great game for fun in co op
Posted 17:52 on 25 October 2009
sakshamthegreatest's Avatar


great review
Posted 13:38 on 25 October 2009
wyp100's Avatar

wyp100@ Endless

It's all about the weapons, really. You're not going to get much done without good weapons at endgame, unless you're Brick. As I said in the review, you're not a slave to the classes. Really it's skill-based, like a standard FPS. If you're good at popping headshots, you'll be good at Borderlands.
Posted 14:15 on 23 October 2009
Endless's Avatar

Endless@ wyp100

Cool, would you say the character abilities really define the role you play in the upper levels, or is it more a case of the bigger and better the equipment you find you could probably get away with not using half your abilities?

That's what eventually let down Diablo for me, that most of your abilities didn't mean jack in the upper difficulties; It was all about how powerful your equipment was.
Posted 14:09 on 23 October 2009
wyp100's Avatar

wyp100@ Endless

It's better, for sure. It works for a start, is less buggy and has a better fun factor.
Posted 13:44 on 23 October 2009
Endless's Avatar


How would you rate it compared to Hellgate: London?
Posted 13:41 on 23 October 2009
wyp100's Avatar

wyp100@ renegade

You can (it's vertical split only), but it's not a lot better. The game isn't structured in a way to make two-player split screen work very well. It's not ordered or linear.
Posted 12:53 on 23 October 2009


So, Can I play the whole campaign with a friend on Split screen? And is it a lot better, if so I will order it today :D
Posted 10:47 on 23 October 2009
Wido's Avatar


Good read. I'm looking forward to play this game. Just got to wait for Royal Fail to deliver the goods!

It seems that the looting is going to be like Too Human = loads of loot! Some of the guns I have seen look bloody awesome and I wouldn't mind trying them out.
Posted 10:37 on 23 October 2009
Karlius's Avatar


Cheers Wes as if this time wasn't hard enough you throw another game into the mix. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, Assassins Creed 2, Modern Warfare 2, Forza 3, Left for Dead 2 and now Borderlands. Co-Op is what I love the most. You just added another game to the list I want that I can't afford lol.

Christmas releases are starting to look up. Even if the games have been released super early this year. I mean they do say Christmas starts earlier every year.

PS. Great Review Wes as per usual. It's almost like I expect good reviews here now!
Posted 10:37 on 23 October 2009

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Out of 10
  • Co-op is great fun
  • A loot whore's wet dream
  • Cool art style
  • Boring single-player experience
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 23/10/2009
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Genre: First Person Shooter
No. Players: 1-4
Rating: BBFC 18
Site Rank: 2,740 24
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