Borderlands opens up with a song titled "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked" by Cage the Elephant, and to some extent, it's the game's mantra throughout. Borrowing the best from both shooters and RPGs, Borderlands is an epic romp through the world of Pandora as players choose one of four characters to unlock the secrets of the Vault. With claims of millions of guns, hundreds of quests, and four player co-op - Borderlands stands out as a giant amongst the 6 or 8 hour shooters we've grown accustomed to.
The most apparent thing when firing up Borderlands was also the most controversial, the art style. Gearbox decided with less than a year to go in development to completely revamp the game's look, adopting what can only be described as a cross between cell shading and hand drawn. It looks and feels like a beautiful graphic novel, and it works. Gearbox turned a world that would be filled with dull browns and grays into an interactive art experience of rich colors. Each one of the many, many weapons you'll acquire for the most part look unique, and feel different. Just by looking at a gun you'll know if it has a scope, does fire damage, or uses a large clip. It's really something that's strange to see from a first person perspective, and it's a bit jarring at first. Coming from a long history of first person shooters, I know what my guns look like when I bring them up - I KNOW which weapon I'm switching to. In Borderlands, it's a bit different, it's always a surprise - and it always changes throughout the course of the game.
There are four characters to choose from: Brick the Beserker, Lillith the Siren, Mordecai the Hunter and Roland the Soldier. Each character has their own skill tree and specialties, but none of the characters are limited in weapon choices. If you want your Beserker to snipe or a hunter to use a machine gun - he can. The special attacks for each class all seem to be geared towards the game's four player co-op mode, with support abilities like health regeneration, revival, and buffs. In my playthrough I used a soldier who's turret attack not only provides extra cover, but can be upgraded to supply health and ammo to teammates when spawned.
The bounty boards are a good place to find new quests.
What sets Borderlands apart from the rest of the shooters out there are the game's RPG elements, it is after all an Role-Playing Shooter according to Gearbox. Players will earn experience for quests and killing enemies, they'll level up their character and choose from 30 different skills with five levels each, all class specific. Even deeper are additional items like class mods which add extra buffs to your character, assigning them a ranking that allows teammates to easily know which kind of player you are. I tended to use mods that classified me as a Support Gunner, providing extra ammo and larger clips to myself and teammates.
Of course the biggest draw among the items are the weapons; if you've ever played games like Too Human, Diablo and Sacred and enjoyed getting that weapon that was just a little better than your previous, you'll be right at home in Borderlands. The weapons range from SMGs, Combat Rifles, Sniper Rifles, Shotguns, Pistols, Grenades and more. As you uncover chests and kill enemies you'll discover rare (blue), rarer (orange), and rarest (yellow) items to help you with your ass kickery. Want a shotgun that shoots 6 rounds in rapid fire, has a scope, and does electrical damage? Done. Need a rocket launcher that shoots 3 rockets at once, has as sniper scope, and has a chance to set your enemies on fire? Done. The best part about the weapons are the names assigned to them with such greats like machine gun called Glorious Massacre and a sub-machine gun called the Pretentious Bitch.