When I first heard about Borderlands, I was excited to say the least. In my ignorance I believed it to be Fallout 3 with multiplayer at first, before it was revealed to me that this was truly going to be a unique experience. The claims of non-stop killing, unlimited amounts of loot, and a well done art style all proved to me that this game is going to keep me busy for a while. To a large extent I was correct. I have played through until level 20 on several characters, level 25 on one, and my top character is coming up on level 40. Needless to say, I have spent countless hours on this game since it came out. Playing it every day for weeks when I found time, and even when I didn't, I quickly racked up at least 120+ hours on this game.
It seems that every time I play I am left both satisfied and dissatisfied; content yet wanting more. Nevertheless, I invite some friends over, break out the controllers, and I explore the wastes. I repeat incessant missions over again on my coming-of-age Siren, and collect Zombie Brains on my overlord Soldier.
From the moment the opening cinematic started until an undefined point in time that I began to really think about Borderlands, I was in love. The great music choice along with the humorous direction of the short opening segment simply put a smile on my face. Also, when I saw the cutscene that explained the characters in detail, and how ever since they were small children they had heard about the Vault and wanted to search for it, I was sure that this was going to be a story driven game. "Fallout 3 with multiplayer," my mind scoffed, "this is going to have a better story and
better gameplay." I guess that statement proved to be partially correct.
The first-person shooting mechanics offer no contest to Fallout 3, beating it in what must be every aspect imaginable. Turning acceleration, auto-aim, precision, and even the crosshairs in Borderlands are better. Along with that, the graphics are a refreshing change from the run of the mill try at realism that everyone attempts.
The variety of guns is unmatched, but it is easy to see the similarities between what we were told to be "completely unique" firearms. To add to the good, Borderlands offers vehicles with mounted weapons and good controls, many Challenges that could keep you busy for ages, stat-boosting class mods, grenade altering mods, and regenerative shields with interesting effects. How then I could I hate a game that I love so much?
To elaborate on 'that point in time where I began to think about Borderlands,' it was really just the point that I realized that the game had no story. Save for the small cutscene before the last boss in the entire game, the biggest cinematic punch Borderlands packed were the four second introductions of some of the earlier characters and a few of the more important bosses. Talk to the person who gives quests, accept quests, complete quests, and as the game so eloquently puts it, TURN IN!
Of course, these quests I speak of involve no more than killing a certain amount of enemies and collecting trinkets that they drop specifically for the quest, collecting glowing green items for some convoluted purpose, or talking to a useless character that happens to have a nifty text box that dispenses XP and prizes.
[Some spoilers may follow]
The cutscenes that I expected throughout Borderlands until I finally destroyed the last boss, they never happened. The unthinkable loot I expected to pillage from the Vault after there was nothing left to stop me, it never happened. The only thing I got was the same whining message on the right of my screen, urging me to TURN IN!
and collect my prize. I practically had the spot in my inventory warmed up when I got to Tannis, and as I was greeted with the same repetitive and uninspired text box, I realized that I had only earned one million dollars.
I came to Pandora, fought my way up from Fyrestone, and rose up to conquer mystical extra-terrestrials, ravaging beasts of all sizes, and of course the psychopathic-schizophrenic humans that roam the planet. I even collected the vault pieces that no one could dream of, and outran all of the companies awaiting my death confirmation. After all of the hype, and the talk that I am greeted with about the Vault being real or fake, I am only given money. I get no godly Eridian weaponry and no unmistakably ridiculous gun.
I proved the unachievable could be done, and found the Vault that was not supposed to exist, but I don't even know what was in it. In fact, the game could have been done without the Vault, without the faked story, and without the fašade of being deeper than it is. It is a mindless shooter in which to collect loot, and that is okay with me. Drop the nonsensical backstory provided to me when I am asked to go kill twenty of a certain monster. Forget the Steele Corporation wanting to hunt me down, because honestly, I never knew the difference of being hunted and not being hunted, as there were always people ready to be shot in the face.
The bosses were also unnecessary in a way, because they were simply normal enemies with more health. "Oh no, Skagzilla! What is the secret to killing him?" More bullets. "Rakk Hive!!! O NOEZ!!11!!!1 How will I ever end this terrible beast's life?" Even more bullets. "Oh but the final boss, he must have a secret! It's got to be like Zelda, where you have to use special stuff on him, right?" Well, not really---use lots of bullets and put some in his arms.
I hope I got my point across as I intended. In short, I love Borderlands, but I can't stand the casual and brainless attitude it has, such as the do-all vending machines and the we are not even going to try to explain how or why this works in any way, shape, or form
Catch-A-Ride stations. Borderlands does not take itself seriously. To add to that gripe, it tries to act like it has a deep story while providing just about the weakest narrative ever created. The gameplay is top notch and the graphics... well, let's just say they work pretty well.
I guess that past all of the explanations, what I am trying to say is that Borderlands is a game I hate to love, but more importantly, love to hate.
Lastly, there is a reason why I never mentioned Claptrap. You would not even want me to get started on his atomically small-sized importance to Borderlands.