December 14th 2014

Time Played: 172 hours

Last Played: 10/13/14

Borderlands: The Good Kind of Stupid

I really like borderlands, which is probably obvious considering I have played close to 200 hours of it. Honestly, that number surprised me. But, I guess that’s to be expected when you play through a game (and its DLC) five times.

Whether you like it or not, Borderlands has a style that is 100% its own. I happen to love it.

Take the humor, for example, I’ve heard many people use Claptrap as a negative example of the game’s humor. And I completely understand their point of view… Claptrap is annoying: it’s a fact. however, in a strange way, that’s what makes him endearing. Claptrap has never bothered me, but I also never took him seriously.

I found characters like Scooter, Tannis, and Mr. Shank to be far more enjoyable. Scooter for his deliverance-esque drawl, Tannis for her first person account of her time on Pandora, and Mr. Shank for… well, I think you’d have to be there. Suffice it to say, the humor in borderlands is not subtle, but it’s purposely not subtle. And it’s my opinion, that it required some skill to prevent this game from turning into nothing but complete stupidity.

Don’t get me wrong, Borderlands is stupid. It’s just the good kind of stupid.

Aside from the ‘distinct stupid’ Borderlands rolls with, it also carries itself with a unique visual style.

Borderlands is cel shaded, like many of its counterparts, however this game distinguishes itself  with its artstyle. The character models all have a nice -simple- silhouette to them, and the majority of their liveliness comes from detailed textures with strong black lines and a physically ‘drawn’ look that doesn’t feel like it’s trying too hard to look like a comic book or cartoon. Even five years after its release, the game’s graphics hold up, mostly due to the aforementioned art style. However, comparing the game to its successor, Borderlands 2, shows just how far the tech has come since Borderlands was released.

Unfortunately, there are some negatives… the biggest gripes I have with Borderlands are actually a small aspect of the graphics, and in my opinion a pretty large design flaw. Concerning the graphics, my issue is with the ‘elemental effects’: they look very, very Unreal3. That’s probably because… the game runs on Unreal3, which isn’t bad, but the effects stand out to me as generic. Everything else has Borderland’s strong art direction and style wrapped around it. But when you proc the acid, fire, or lightning effects they just look like any other game using Unreal. It might seem minor, but it was enough that it pulled me out of the experience.

My only other real complaint concerning the graphics would be that there are low-res textures here and there. Not a huge deal. Other than that, the majority of the environments look the same, but when the game takes place on a desert planet used as a massive junk yard, there isn’t going to be much biome diversity. To their credit, the game’s DLC take place in areas vastly different from the desert junk yards of the main story. Like an ancient ocean floor that a massive highway has been built over, cool stuff!

As for how the game actually plays, the shooting mechanics aren’t amazing, but they get the job done. Really, the main draw of the gameplay is the different classes and their respective abilities. And the oodles and boodles of guns.

Each gun feels different in how it fires. Unfortunately they don’t pack a major punch, and they don’t feel very heavy, but that also comes from the ‘dice roll’ nature of the game. (Damage is dealt damage similarly to how it would be in an RPG.) For instance, I’ve run into a situation in which I was fighting a Badass (elite enemy) and loading him full of HUNDREDS UPON HUNDREDS of rounds of ammunition.

This is actually my biggest complaint with the games mechanics: if you’re gear isn’t up to par, the game can become VERY difficult. Every time you die, the enemies in the area regenerate their health and you lose a percentage of your money. There were some cases in which I lost every cent I had because I died over and over again. Not the game’s best moments, but not enough to make me put it down

Overall though Borderlands is a wonderful game with a stupid sense of humor that just wants to make you happy. If you can look past some dumb jokes, some minor graphical missteps, potentially irritating Badasses, and a couple annoying characters there is a wonderful game underneath.

What do you think?

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