Hybrid games are often released on the Xbox 360. Combining several different game genres into one creates a refreshing experience for the gamer, and thus revamps what could simply become another victim of an overly tried and tested genre. Borderlands, released by games company Gearbox Software in 2009 is a great example of this genre mixing. Originally billed as a cross between the first person shooter elements of Halo, and the role playing adventuring in Diablo, Borderlands brings a stylistic cell-shaded treat to your TV screens, complete with plenty of playability.
Upon starting the game, you will notice that the Halo claim may not exactly be that fitting. For, this is not a big scale war of the species. Instead you are thrust into a outlawed wasteland setting, where looting, pillaging and bounty hunting are rife. Borderlands in fact combines the quest element in RPG's with the standard functions of a first person shooter. Exploration is the key in this largely expansive game, and only by exploring will you pick up missions or find people to brawl. Set on the fictional planet of Pandora,
Borderlands allows you to play as one of four characters. Each character carries different abilities, and can change your gaming experience depending on what one you choose to complete the game as. Firstly, there is Mordecai, from the "hunter" class. With Mordecai you are more precise at stealth shots (sniper fans, you'll be in for a treat here), and comes equipped with his own falcon to deliver some expertise finishing moves. Second, you can choose to be Lilith, from the "siren" class. She can turn invisible to enemies once her action bar is charged up, and packs incredible strength. Thirdly, pick Roland, from the "soldier" class if you want someone who is proficient with weaponry (shotguns in particular), and can easily deploy turrets for extra enemy damage. Lastly, there is Brick, from the "berserker" class. He is specialises in explosive weapons, such as rocket launchers, and he also has a great attack called "berserk" which sends him into a fit of rage just perfect for a bit of melee combat.
Once you have chosen your character, you are then thrown out into the wasteland of Pandora to earn yourself some money. The treasure hunting aspect of the game is probably one of the most enjoyable aspects. All loot is randomly generated, so you will never know where you will stumble upon a hoard of money, or gun that doubles your damage.The hunt for these multitude of goodies becomes rather addictive, and combined with the shooting, melee fights, driving and mission completing, creates a game that many gamers will become hooked to.
Once you have completed the first mission (which acts as a loose tutorial), you are free to accept and complete the rest of the bunch. You can pick up missions on bounty boards which you can find with the help of your map, or interact with the games NPC's to unlock some more. In simple terms, the missions are pretty similar. Simply accept your mission, drive to the destination, perhaps collect an item or engage in a fight, and then drive back to collect your bounty. However, each mission is different from one another, and are incredibly fun to complete. If you choose to, there are challenges you can complete for extra objectives. The challenges that you can engage in can be found in your games menu, and will be ticked off when you have completed them. Complete them all to get an achievement!
Borderlands supports multi-player playability, which is a welcome addition. Using this, players are able to play through the game with up to another three players. Together you can complete missions, shoot it up and generally just muck about. Sharing the experience with a bunch of friends rather than flying it solo through the wasteland seemed much more fun, and having your buddies there to back you up in a fight makes a lot of difference. I recommend investing in headsets though, so you and your friends can actually talk about what you plan to do!
As for criticisms, in all honesty, Borderlands does not really suffer from many. The only aspects I would point out is that at times the map got a little tricky to navigate, and the game, like many others, suffers from the occasional "glitching" bug. The rarer weapons also appear to be too rare at times, which is a pain as I found myself discovering repeated weapons from time to time when in all honesty I was itching to start using a brand new one. However, these criticisms remain a small niggling feeling, rather than something that could potentially spoil the gaming experience.
Luckily, as the world of Pandora is incredibly vast, it does take a considerably long time to fully complete this game, especially as if you are intending on unlocking every achievement in this game, you will be required to complete this game more than once (for instance, there are character specific achievements so you need to have played with each of them at some point to gain them).
Once the main storyline has been completed, you are free to continue your game play to complete any left achievements, discover new weapons and locations, and more. You will notice that the second play-through is much harder. Enemies are tougher, and deal much more damage than before, so this brings a refreshing challenge to the proceedings. Once you have exhausted this freedom though, there are plenty of excellent downloadable content extras to download on the Xbox 360 marketplace. Having completed all of them, I would strongly suggest downloading "The Island of Dr. Ned" DLC. This brings a new twist to the game, as well as a new location-zombies, a crazy doctor, and a B-movie feel. It also takes quite a long time to complete this DLC pack, so it is definitely worth the Xbox points you had to part with to download it.
Borderlands was one of the most engaging, addictive and lengthy games of 2009. The cell-shaded cartoon style gives the game a bit of unique charm, and gives the game a slight comic book feel. The characters are well-thought out, and bring different aspects to the game, depending on which one you choose to play as. There are a multitude of missions and challenges to complete, as well as the ability to treasure hunt for money, weapons and objects.
The multi-player function is a welcome addition, as it allows you to enjoy the game not only with a second player in the same room, but with people over the Xbox Live connection also. Playing this game as a duo, threesome or quartet is definitely recommended as it brings a bigger level of enjoyment to the proceedings than just playing it solo does. Although the story in Borderlands may seem rather loose through the majority of it, it is littered with enough gags and enjoyable moments to become totally immersed in it. This is a great example of a hybrid genre game, and combined with the hours of downloadable content, no wonder this game became such a huge seller.