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Set on the harsh frontier planet Pandora, Borderlands on 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles is an atmospheric and unique-looking Role-playing shooter that puts you in search of a mysterious Alien Vault. Built from the ground-up for four-player co-op, Borderlands features an amazing content generation system which means a near-endless variety of weapons and items are available to customise your character in the game. With a bold art-style and a deep engrossing story, this is a role-playing shooter unlike any other game you'll play this year.
What first impresses is the bold art style. Instead of going for a realistic look, Borderlands has a distinctive cel-shaded design mixed with a gritty and post-apocalyptic setting that makes for bizarre and effective visuals. Along with this Mad-Max graphic style is a dose of wicked black humour. Whereas Fallout 3's humour was sporadic and weighed down by the depressing tone of the whole game, Borderlands is full of self-referencial moments which take a wry look at itself and the genre it occupies.
The characters you can control in Borderlands are familiar archetypes and make it easy to pick a class and get straight into the action. Mordecai is the sniper, Roland the soldier, Lilith a magic user and Brick, the brute who can take the most damage is the fourth. From this it's clear that Borderlands is best played in co-op with four other players. Not only do the four classes work well together but the whole drop-in drop-out system is flawless and gives a nice freeform feel to the whole game.
That's not to say it isn't strong as a single-player experience. If anything, the story and the desolation of this post-disaster world lends itself better to a solitary experience where you can take in the surroundings at your own pace. Taking it slowly also brings out the intricacies to the art-style that would otherwise be lost under a blaze of activity. Using some funky rendering technology combined with hand-drawn textures, Borderlands has such a bold, yet forlorn look to it that can't fail to affect you in its quieter moments.
Even thought the art-style is impressive and the co-op makes this a sociable feast of a game, the emphasis of Borderlands is most definitely on its weapons. If you have a penchant for guns of any kind then this game will indulge your fantasies to the millionth degree. That's because, thanks to a groundbreaking creation system, the game has literally millions of procedurally generated guns - all eminently customisable with buffs or effects that can improve their stats.
This leads to some truly unique and incredible weapons that, as a player, you'll fall in love with. What will also lead to excitement is the inclusion of vehicular combat. As you battle to stay alive on Pandora with the nine native and very aggressive creatures that inhabit the world, the option to jump behind the wheel is a welcome change of pace. The high-speed vehicle to vehicle combat is simply breathtaking with some of the best explosions in a videogame that you're likely to see.
Being a closet PC Diablo fan I was impressed with the sheer variety of loot on offer in Borderlands on 360 and PS3. There's simply hundreds of thousands of items, weapons and pickups available and its this, after the impressive story, that keeps me coming back for more. Playing this with a group of friends perfected the mix and although its an injustice to simply describe Borderlands as a first-person Diablo - it would be in the most complimentary way possible.
The world of Borderlands on Xbox 360, PlayStatino 3 and PC is a thoroughly entertaining experience for fans of shooters or RPGs. The unique art-style and its impressive replayability means its impossible to put down whether in single-player or in 4-player co-op. The deep fiction and unique sense of place challenges the usual depiction of a modern shooting game and brings it into new and welcome territory, Borderlands might be devoted to loot-lust, but more importantly it's also devoted to fun.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: