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38 Reviews

Borderlands

Hybrid heaven?

Plenty of parallels could be made between Borderlands and fellow post-apocalyptic shooter, Fallout 3. But truth be told Gearbox's effort is more like World of Warcraft; mental loot, quests that involve killing things, and boss characters with stupid stats and even stupider names... But where Bethesda leans towards the RPG side of the hybridisation, Gearbox has definitely opted for more FPS.

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Borderlands' control scheme, as you'd expect from the veteran developer, feels like a top-notch shooter. On Xbox 360 everything's in the right place. Click the left stick and you'll sprint, click the right and you'll pull out a knife. RB lobs a grenade, Y switches your weapon and A executes a very Halo-eseque floaty jump.

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Shooter fans will get to grips immediately with the familiar set-up then, but as soon as you've nailed your first headshot the game quickly reveals its RPG genes. Shoot a Mad Max-esque enemy and he'll literally bleed numbers, dropping colour-coded weapons, ammo (shaded for rarity, WoW fans) and experience points to feed the ever-present level bar at the bottom of the screen.

Borderlands, though on the surface appears to be a traditional first-person shooter, is about loot, mobs, agro and all the other terms assocciated with an MMO.

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Plot-wise, the game takes place on the planet Pandora, a desolate wastelasnd full of bandits, mutants, killer giant ants and the rest of the cast seemingly nicked from id Software's Rage. Right in the middle of the tribal warfare and wild west code of conduct is your character foursome, each with their own unique skill trees and special abilities; there's Mordecai the hunter (sniper), Roland the soldier, Lilith the Siren (who can turn invisible) and Brick the human tank.

Each character has his or her own backstory but together they share a singular goal; to uncover the mysterious alien "Vault" hidden somewhere on Pandora. We think so, anyway - really the plot isn't very clearly presented and is just an excuse to kill Mad Max-style gang bosses (one's even called 'Mad Mel' - see the link?).

Kicking off your adventure is a sort of baptism of fire; running noob quest after noob quest. Barely escaping with your life from the rabid alien dogs you're tasked with killing isn't the most explosive introduction - as is a problem in most RPGs.

But once you've finished a few quests, levelled-up and lobbed the 'lady finger' pistol in the bin, you'll grab your newly-discovered incendiary shotgun, hop behind the wheel of Pandora's answer to a Warthog and send those bastard dogs fleeing for their lives, on fire.

Each class has their own unique skill; the soldier can chuck down a stationary turret, the hunter can call on his trusty hawk companion and Brick can go melee-mental in berserk mode. With each successive level-up you can upgrade these skills along various skill tree paths, opting to bolster your shooting skills, boost you unique ability or simply improve your chances or finding decent loot.

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It's here that the first hints of Borderlands' meaty multiplayer focus emerge; exploring Pandora alone is a fun, but in co-op with three mates the campaign is undoubtedly a more enjoyable one.

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