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Xbox 360 Review: Borderlands

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The world of Borderlands is one filled with Skagg, the rats of this barren planet known as Pandora. The good news is that they cannot digest ammunition or weapons, leaving them around the open world waiting to be scavenged. The problem is they vomit the non-digestible items up into piles, forcing the player to scatter the putrid green slime and bone-filled stacks to find something of interest.

A lot of exploration involves Skagg puke, certainly a rather nasty way to live inside Borderlands, but essential nonetheless. Those steaming piles are critical to staying well stocked, and against the majority of bandits (and creatures) roaming the world, you’ll need a lot of it.

Borderlands, at least for an open world, is amazingly restrictive in its design. Foes a meager two levels higher than the player are nearly invincible, unless the player is immensely skilled and rich in-game to continually purchase ammunition at a nearby vending machine.

Side missions are not labeled correctly since they are not voluntary. They are a requirement to progress, as even though story missions may be labeled for a lower level, the end boss is typically at least one level up. It expects you to gain a level during the mission itself, even if the enemy numbers wouldn’t allow for it.

This odd class divide is a shame, preventing Borderlands from becoming a phenomenal piece of action-RPG design. The first-person viewpoint is a fine way to enjoy the distinctive art, and loot seekers will find the constant stream of searching for weapons incredibly addictive.

Many will be turned off initially, as warping to a location does not become available until hours into the adventure, and vehicles have a nasty habit of becoming stuck on the simplest of objects.

While employment in Borderlands seems rare, someone should not be designing guard rails for the road lower than the frame of the car. Physical damage in accidents may not be a problem, but the number of discarded vehicles stuck hanging over rails must be huge. A smart businessman in this world should open up AAA tow service. He’d be the richest man in the land in no time.

It would only seem appropriate for a demented tow service to show up given the oddball sense of humor. Enemies vary from hulking brutes to (actual name) Psycho Shotgun Midgets, who have heads lined up perfectly for the default height of the player’s gun. They never stood a chance.

Thankfully, despite the dire conditions, with many inhabitants using tattered rugs for doors, procreation is quite a popular pastime. In fact, the time from pregnancy to birth is about, say, one mission. Once you’ve cleared out a particularly difficult set of enemies, the trek back will be filled with all of the children of those prior slaughter victims. That’s impressive, even if the whole of Borderlands is not.

Borderlands is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Mature Humor, Strong Language. This game can also be found on: PS3, PC.


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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Robert M. Barga

    you really didn’t like it? I love the game, and am planning on having a review on here shortly

  • http://www.doblu.com Matt Paprocki

    No, I like it, and in many ways I love it. It just has such a huge array of problems, nothing can fix them short of a revamped sequel.

  • http://www.whalertly.com/wordpress Robert M. Barga

    With the sole exception of the insane dog things, i thought that it had very few problems

  • http://breakingwindows.com Ken Edwards

    I am starting to see the uneven gameplay with enemies just slightly outside your current experience level. That is annoying, and stupid.