Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition

    I decided to do a review of the original Borderlands game because, why the hell not? While presently restricted to last generation hardware, hopefully we'll see it adapted to present-day consoles. If not, it's still a good, if not great game. While I consider Borderlands 2 one of the best video games ever made, its predecessor lacks a great deal of the humor and terrain variety which makes the sequel so great. The fact the antagonists are nowhere near as colorful or entertaining as Handsome Jack is also an unfortunate factoid.

    Despite this, there's a lot to recommend about the original Borderlands and the Game of the Year Edition especially. Specifically, while the original game is only enjoyable, the DLC are some of the most fun and entertaining I've played for many games. They show a massive improvement in quality from the original game and take it from the merely good to "great." If the entire game had been like the DLC then, well, it would have been Borderlands 2.


Shooting bandits is never not fun.
    As such, we'll be reviewing both the core game as well as the DLC in this review since all of them should be purchased together if one wants the "full Borderlands experience." This is a game which, much like Assassins Creed 2, isn't really complete unless you play all of the DLC in addition the original game.

    My .02 at least.

    The premise is you are one of four Vault Hunters, treasure-seekers who have heard of a mysterious source of immense wealth on the planet Pandora. No, not the one from the movie with the giant blue aliens but just as many creatures trying to kill you.

The expansions are the heart of the fun for the original game.
  Contacted by a mysterious beautiful woman named the Guardian Angel, you are given a series of clues for assembling the "Vault Key" that requires you to fight numerous bandits as well as local wildlife. After you assemble it, you find the Atlas Corporation and its mercenary armies are less than inclined to let you open the Vault first. Eventually, you manage to track down the Vault and open it up to find out what's inside.

    Which may not be what you expected.

    The basic gameplay is a shoot-em-up and loot-em-up experience. It's a simplistic and fun sort of game where you're constantly looking for better equipment amongst the hundreds of gun variants which may drop from kills. As Penny Arcade says, "There's no need to convene the Council of Elrond on this." It's fun. It's simplistic fun. You don't need to think hard about why shooting hockey-mask-wearing bandits in the face is fun.

Poor General Knoxx. All he wants to do is die. Why won't you let him?
    The four variant protagonists are pretty interesting to try out. I, generally, stuck to Roland his Sentry but I also enjoyed Lilith as a character. The slight variations in gunplay and gameplay style are ones which keep the game relatively fresh despite the relatively simple concept. In short, Borderlands is a game which has high replay value simply because there's a large focus over gameplay on story.

    Sadly, that is one of its two biggest weaknesses. The story is almost an excuse for gaming and there's not really much to say about the characters in the main game. There's some delightfully whacky folk on Pandora but no one is quite as over-the-top as they are in the sequel or spin-offs. Likewise, the quest for the Vault goes in a fairly straightforward direction before swerving in an unexpected and unexplained direction.

    The graphics are also something of a weakness as everything on Pandora comes in shades of brown or gray with no real variation between them. It certainly lends the planet a signature style but nothing so much I'd really want to experience long-term, which the campaign kind of insists upon.

    Thankfully, the DLC improve on this as mentioned.

The Zombie Island of Doctor Ned

    The first place they decided to go really wild with the craziness. Doctor Ned (who is totally not his brother Doctor Zed with a fake mustache) has created a horde of the undead in a dark and secluded swamp. It is full of ludicrous zombie-killing fun, TREES, and hilarious offbeat humor. Borderlands and zombies could have been very cheesy so they went with an entire dairy and it's all the better for it.

Shooting Frankenstein for loot. Not available since Castlevania!
Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot

    A series of arena battles hosted by fan favorite character Mad Moxxi. There's not much to them, per se, but they have very fun commentary throughout. I admit, the bloodsport element turns me slightly off, but these were much more enjoyable than their Borderlands 2 counterparts.

The Secret Armory of General Knoxx

    Ex-Crimson Lance assassin Athena has started a one-woman war against the aforementioned military force. Offering you the vast armory of their leader, General Knoxx, if you help her, the two of you team up to take him down. This module is both hilarious and dark at differing intervals.

    General Knoxx is a great character given how he's depressed to the point of wanting to kill himself or the Vault Hunters in equal measure due to how STUPID everyone is on Pandora. Athena doesn't get much development but is likable enough during her brief stay to make me glad they revived her for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel.

Claptrap's New Robot Revolution

    My favorite of the expansions. A Claptrap has been modified into becoming an interplanetary ninja assassin, only to decide to start a robot revolution. You must defeat his cybernetically altered Hyperion troopers and horde of reprogrammed Claptrap units to put it down before the entire world is under the control of the idiot machine. Includes a return of several killed Bosses resurrected by Claptrap's insane science.

    Viva la Robolution!

Have fun and try not to die!
    The main game, to me, is only about an 8/10 but with the DLC, it moves back up to a 9/10 and becomes a worthy predecessor to Borderlands 2.

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