Borderlands
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7.42
6.1
The Range Of Characters

Game: Borderlands

Borderlands is a kind of open world FPS of which you play in a rather large game world, where you move from map to map/zone to zone. Some of the game is played just inside, other are just outside with little shacks or cave you can go into to interact with objects such as switches or safes. As you go through the game you can see that the terrain changes from corner to corner, you could be running on a flat surface area, turn a corner and see hills and mountains with craters in the ground. As for the architecture in the game, there are few buildings since the game is based on an alien planet, but when you do come across them they are futuristic high tech buildings, shacks and shanty towns or alien monuments with markings all over the walls. Although on some occasions when running around the world some of the textures don’t load in which can make the game look bad, this only lasts for around 10 seconds or so and the textures will appear. There are many other games that do this so its not just Borderlands, games as big as Call Of Duty and GTA have the same texture troubles.

There are many characters in Borderlands, a lot of them are NCPs who you can interact with and speak to for information or quests, they give you a good amount of information in order for you to get to your goal, but they are very static. The majority of the times they are just standing around waiting for you to speak to them, and when you do talk to them they still don’t move. They may change location around the map but when you are near them the most they do is wave their arms and turn their head towards you, this doesn’t help with the immersion of the game or in creating a good atmospheric feel with the game compared to if they was to walk around the towns and interact with each other. You can play one of four characters each assigned its own specific class, but you only play as one of them at any given time, and you play as that one until you start a new game. The game has multiplayer features so your friends can jump in, they can either be the same character or a different character to you. You cannot edit the looks of your character in terms of the cloths that they ware, but you can change the colours to make it a little more specific to you. A lot of games have become multiplayer, and this is a brilliant example of a Co-operative multiplayer experience, much like Splinter Cell they have opted for the team play multiplayer, where you and your friends go around together doing whatever quests or missions you want, the multiplayer and single player both entwine too. Unlike the Call of Duty or Battlefield  series this isn't mainly a versus game and is much more fun in Co-op than when playing single player. I believe that this could have been done better though as the looting mechanic for items is whoever gets It has it, when playing with random people who are not friends this can be annoying as people take the items you need, the term for this is ‘Ninja Looting’. They could have implemented a shared loot system or a need/greed system like TOO HUMAN or World Of Warcraft.

The AI in the game isn't too good either, when facing enemies they just run around shooting they don’t have any structure to the way in which they fight. They don’t run to cover purposely , but they do run around corners and away from grenades. As you level up and play through the game the AI characters and enemies level up with you, this gives them boosted stats such as heath, accuracy and damage making them harder to defeat, and bosses are altogether stronger.

 

The game is in full 3D, giving the game life and atmosphere. This allows you to immerse yourself in the game world with its great cell shaded kind of graphics. It has a lot of small details that, if you are like me you pick up as you play, such as markings on the floor and the amount of details that are in the scenery. These small details also help you to jump into the game and feel as if you could be in the world, running around and adventuring, even though the game graphics itself is cartoon-like. Much of the scenery is important, it helps you to map out the game world in your mind, you remember where certain things are and also a lot of the markings around the world are jokes to humour the player increasing the memorability. They originally had more realistic graphics but changed half way through development, I like the current graphics but I think it would be nice to see the game with the older style.

The camera that the game uses is a first person camera; you can only see your characters hands and gun, which perform various animations as you do things within the game such as using abilities or reloading a gun. You can get into vehicles on the game, and when this happens you go into a third person camera, this makes the driving easier than it would be in a first person camera mode. The first person genre is one of the most widely known game types and has large fan base drawing more people in to try the new games of the genre. This mix of genres confused people a little, as people who don’t like RPG games but like FPS games probably would not have liked this, I don’t think this game got the credit it deserves for this merge of game types. It would have been nice having a third person option to play and this could be a possible improvement if they do another game in the series.

Borderlands has a very good HUD, it tells you everything you need to know for you to go through the game, it also has a very good layout making it easy to keep track of many things at once, such as how much ammo you have, what gun you are using and the amount of health you have before you die. When you are in multiplayer and in range of your allies the HUD adapts by adding images of their characters as well as their health and shield levels, this is very useful especially when it is needed to heal your allies. When you need to heal your allies or do any other action in the game, the HUD changes to show you what button you need to press and what action it will take. An important factor is the room it takes up on-screen, which is very little around the edges of the screen, and even these parts are slightly transparent so that you can still see the game through them.

Included in the game are a lot of cinematics, all of them CGI and keeping the graphical style of the game. Borderlands mainly uses these CGI scenes when you meet new people in the game who give you quests, or go up against bosses, these are very short, a few seconds and are made to be funny, for example one of the first bosses you meet is called ‘Nine Toes’, the camera spins around him and stops in front of him, it has his name in big letters by his head, but in line with his thigh it says in brackets ‘Also has 3 balls’. This adds some comedy to the game making it a more enjoyable experience. There are also some expansion packs, these have CGI intros which give a base to the story of the content, these clips are a few minutes long and occur as you enter the new areas that come with this content as well as when key parts of the story unfold. This does get a bit annoying though as these cinematics can’t be skipped, and when you have played this game through a couple of times you would like to have the option to skip these scenes. This could be a feature implemented in a patch or a sequel title.

In Borderlands the player controls his or her avatar throughout the whole game. You can change your character if you start a fresh new game, but once you have picked a character you cannot change mid game. Although you can only control your character, the game does have online capabilities in the form of CO-OP gameplay. You and up to 3 more friends can jump into one of your games and play through the complete story together, as you do quests it completes for both the owner/host of the game and any CO-OP partners that have joined. This is great as the game is a lot more fun with some friends running around with you sprinting towards the loot as a boss died. Along with the CO-OP gun ‘n’ run gameplay, the racing for the loot and the killing of the troublesome bosses you can go to the arena and face off against your friends in player versus player combat. You can play it either teams or free or all, and there are many arenas to find throughout the game world. If you want a quick one versus one where you stand, you can run up and melee one of you allies and it will challenge them to a duel, if they hit you back, you have 5 seconds to get ready to fight. If you win you get a tiny amount of experience towards your level up, not really worth doing it for that, but after so many you do get a challenge complete. You can get a big experience boost for those; the main thing you earn is the bragging rights of being the better player, through skill or equipment. There are vehicles in the game that you can drive, in the multiplayer mode you can spawn two cars, and each car has a gunner and a drive for you and you partners to use, vehicles are fast and effective ways to get to your teammates quick. You can also teleport to vehicles if you were left behind, which often happens when playing with random people.

You are limited in the range of the map you can go, all teammates can stay in an area and travel freely throughout it, but once somebody wants to change to a different instance/playfield it will come up with a message saying “john82” wants to travel to Dahl Headlands, you can then press a button to stop the travel or just wait for the countdown to finish and all players will load into the playfield travelled to. When playing with random people online, some of them like to be ‘annoying’ so they stop the travel all the time not allowing you to move onto different areas, you then have to go through multiple menus In order to remove them from the game.

Team play is very important in borderlands, especially when it comes to bosses, with most of them you need friends in your game to help you, but as more people join the game difficulty goes up as well as the amount of good items that fall from the enemies you face. This makes the CO-OP mode a big part of the game! As mentioned the game allows people to simply jump in and play, after receiving the request the player can accept or deny, you can also set who is allowed to ask to join within the options menu, such as everybody, just friends or nobody. This is a good feature as when playing the game you don’t wish to be harassed constantly, this can be seen in other game such as Crackdown, TOO HUAN and Fable.

There are various ways that the story is told in Borderlands, the majority of it comes from a woman who pops up in the top right corner as you reach certain parts of the game, or complete specific quests. As you meet new quest givers, bosses or travel to new zones there is sometimes a CGI video that gives you a bit of information on the area, person or enemy that you’re coming up against, with a little bit of a background on how the character ended up how and where they are currently in the story. I found this a good way of telling the story as you don’t have to sit through long videos at the start and end of each chapter, you feel involved even when the story is being told, and because it is told in a pretty comical way, it makes it an even better experience. You can skip certain side quests but the main quest and story must be done.

The main goal of this game is to gather as many great items as possible and level up to the highest possible level; you can do this even after completing the games story. The story is formed into quests which you complete, some give you items and other experience, but help you progress through the game either way. As you get further into the game you will come across harder enemies and bosses and the way Borderlands is made it means you have to tune your character to fight each main boss as they all are different, in their attacks, weaknesses and strengths. The bosses give you a lot more experience and items than other creatures, there are many bosses in the game and most of them are part of the story, to find them and kill them, on the way you can pick up many side quests that aren’t part of the main story, in total, main and side quests there are around 200 to complete. To complete the game fully though, you have to go through the main story twice, once you have done it once you can go to play-through 2.0, it will take this second play-through in order for you to get to the top level in the game with all of the best items. This gives the game a huge replay value as to be the best you need to play it again. If you complete the story in playthrough-2.0, it then opens up ANOTHER, yes another play-through option, this time 2.5 where the enemies are amazingly difficult and the items that drop off of the harder ones and the bosses are immense. Thus adding even more replay value. There is no set difficulty to the game as the enemies go up in level as you progress through the game, so the 2.0 and 2.5 play modes are vital in giving the player a challenge, and that they do. This gives the game great replay value, but can be a little boring for some people who are trying to get the achievments that the game give on the Xbox and PS3. There has been a good stream of downloadable content released that also gives some more gameplay value to the player, but this is costly.

As a FPS and with RPG elements you have many tools at your disposal, most obvious is your gun, you can change guns as you find them in crates or loot them from killing bosses and other enemies, all of your guns and other items, such as shields and health packs can all be found in your inventory, from the inventory screen you can look at items, drop them, compare them, equip them or use them. As you pick up items they are also put into separate sub headings, making it easier for you to see what is what, it also gives you many different sort options that you can toggle between making finding items even easier. Any items you pick up also have a colour to their name, this shows the rarity of the item, usually the rarer it is the higher its value and the better the item is, yet again making it easier to see what to hold onto and what to sell or drop. You have a limited space in your inventory so managing it is vital, especially when you come across a super rocket launcher that you can’t pick up because you can’t carry anything else. You can earn upgrades through doing quests in order in improve the amount of space that you have in your inventory, this can greatly improve your gameplay as you don’t have to stop every so often to go back to a shop in order to sell all of the stuff you don’t need. Your inventory can easily get full and at a fast pace, even with the extra space it is still a bit redious to keep going back and forth to vendors.

As one of my favourite games I played this to no end when it was first released, I personally love the game and can go back and player anytime, anyplace with no hesitation. To me it definitely has a large appeal and a high addiction level. I picked up my copy the same day that it was released, and played it for 3 days with no sleep, clocking a shocking 79 hours gameplay without realising. According to a statistics website I was the second person in the world to complete the game on Xbox 360, beaten by somebody from America who had the games 3 days earlier this shows how much I enjoyed the game. As I played online with others they also said about how much they loved the game too giving it nothing but praise.

I recently brought the GoTY Edition on steam to play it again, not regretting it at all.

(I wrote this last year for an assignment in college.)

In Game View - HuD, Art Style.