previews\ Sep 14, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Borderlands - PS3 - Preview 3

Borderlands is a name that has several different meanings … it could describe the area between countries, those places that buttress up against another region; it is also the name of the 2K Games’ title that combines the action of a first-person shooter with the character leveling systems commonly associated with role-playing games.

A bit on the gritty side, Borderlands (slated for a mid-October release on the PS3) plops players down in a dustbowl near a shanty town with a robot as the guide. Of course, the robot has humanoids who are not fond of it and you, guilty by association, have to clear your path into the opening stages of the game. So much for easing you into things. Fortunately, there are several pre-made characters to choose from and each has a specialty. Pick the sniper and you simple load up the rifle, target and pick off your enemies from distance.

But don’t expect Borderlands to hold your hand and make it all sunshine and headshots – nope, this game requires you to follow some tried-and-true tactics when shooting at the opposition … like backing up. They will come at you and you will empty a clip and have to suffer through a reloading time that seems all too long when the enemy is advancing.

The whole entry into Borderlands, in a shanty town that springs to life quite nicely, is a tutorial for gamers. You will learn the mechanics of combat, and how to revive should you fail to duck incoming projectiles often enough to not be as handy as you hoped in the melee setting.  

One of the nice points of the game is the procedural weapons creation in which weapons are dynamically generated. See a box, might be anything in there – all of which makes the game a fresh experience every time you play.

Borderlands is a mission-based game, with each mission rolling seamlessly – if the preview disk carries into the release in any indication – into the next. You will meet an interesting assortment of characters, collect power-ups, ammo and level experience. The game also will feature multiplayer gaming in a couple of different ways, including split-screen.

The way the dev team – Gearbox Software – handles the graphics is far and away a compelling reason to check this game out. The game uses a stylized comic style that is just shy of cel-shading, but gives the game an almost graphic novel look and feel. That element is driven home when you meet different characters in the game and the way they are freeze-framed against a solid color backdrop with their name splashed over the top.

Each character has a backstory and those are odd, to say the least, but that is part of the charm of this game. Sure, you pick up ammo and other items, you zoom in and melee opponents that are too close, but it is the game’s overriding graphical style that first supplants the notion that this is a bit different that your standard shooter fare.

Borderlands releases in the fall and is certainly a game that is quirky, entertaining and worth keeping an eye on.

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