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Review: Borderlands for Xbox 360 – Close Encounters of the Disturbing Kind

by Jon Rettinger | November 6, 2009November 6, 2009 1:14 pm PDT

borderlands1Nothing gets my blood pumping quite like a fast-paced shooter. Especially when set against almost space-western like theme. I think it goes back to my fondness for the short-lived TV series Firefly. Ah, memories. Borderlands takes you to that same level of gritty alien realms and bad dudes with laser pistols in place of Smith&Wesson.

The game is set on an alien word known as Pandora. A remote and rustic planet that holds many secrets, including a mysterious ancient alien structure, called the Vault, whose function or purpose no one seems to know – expect that it allegedly contains treasure. Well if you name something “Vault” people are going to assume it’s full of money, right? Naturally every alien in the galaxy wants what’s inside – and they are willing to kill for it. You are placed in the middle of this intergalactic custody battle in hopes of obtaining the Vault’s hidden secrets. So begins your journey.

Once you’re in the game (as one of several characters), you immediately go to work, giving alien baddies the business. And business is good. You’re faced with a large variety of different zenomorphs to content with in boss levels, and some are incredibly difficult to slay. When you do slay them you are reward with gore galore. Bodies explode like sacks of blood. If graphic gaming is your thing, you’ll feel a satisfying sense of self-accomplishment watching enemies turn into chunky salsa.

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Level design is really well done. Pandora is a mix of 2D and 3D art. Characters have an almost cartoon-like or comic adventure appearance that yet somehow feels three dimensional and highly detailed – an element that gives this game an immersive quality that can’t be ignored. After playing just one level you will be hooked.

The game is based up on a character building framework that requires its players to earn skill points in order to level up. As you improve your aim, accuracy, and quest completion, you are rewarded tools and weapons of ever increasing ability. The more you do the more you earn. And this game features a massive array of weapons to choose from.

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One thing that I especially liked about this game was its variety of quests that take place outside of the game’s main objective – much like Elder Scrolls Oblivion. Even after you’ve completed the main quest and learned secret of the Vault, revealed in a climatic end-scene, you are still able to go back into the game and continue playing. This is vital to any game, in my opinion, because it extends its value beyond the few initial hours of gameplay. Without that, this game would go right from your Xbox to the nearest Gamestop in less than a week. And that ruins the entire experience for me.

So, if you first-person shooters with a role playing edge – or put another way – you love killing aliens in a comic-style environment – and completing quests – Borderlands is a fantastic game that will live on your Xbox long after you’ve completed the game’s main objective.

I rate this (out of 5):

Visit game website.


Jon Rettinger

Jon, perhaps best known by his YouTube alter ego Jon4Lakers, has a love for technology that can never be quenched, no matter how hard he tries. If...

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