Borderlands Review: RPG + FPS = ?

A First Person Shooter, Role Playing Game? How fitting. The only way to turn the most anti-RPG audience (360 gamers) toward the genre is to combine it with what they love most (shooters). RPGs are known for their deep stories, fantastic elements, romanticized themes, and -most importantly- their character progression and development. Here’s the problem- Borderlands has barely any of that.
In reality, Borderlands for the 360, PS3, and PC is a glorified FPS with dungeon-crawling and looting. The majority of the budget was put toward the graphics and the rest was put into advertising the ill-conceived FPS/RPG concept. Control-wise, the game is heavily geared toward the shooter market- which is fine for the 360 version, it was made for the run amp; gun genre. Unfortunately, the game suffers on the PS3 thanks to its crippling shooter controller. The analogs don’t have that trigger feel, nor the same response time- making it the inferior version.

The four starter classes are the bare-bones equivalent of a budget RPG. Would you like to be a Soldier or a Siren? How about a Hunter? Maybe a Berserker? No? That’s cool. Turn the game off. They have their differences, such as how Hunters are great at sniping and using their pet birds to kill enemies. As you level up your character new skills are opened and they gradually become able to kill more and more. As an interesting tidbit, most 360 players completely ignore the Siren class because it forces you to play as a female character- a classic suicidal feature for 360 gamers. Of the four she has some of the best abilities, most of which pertain to making her melee attacks more powerful, raising her critical rate, and adding effects to her attacks. Too bad the gender-biased 360 audience will never embrace poor Lilith…

If you find yourself bored with playing alone, the game does support 2 Player split-screen co-op, as well as 4 Player online support. It’s a nice addition and makes the game feel less mediocre. While multiplayer is nice and does offer one on one combat to boot, there’s one more fatal flaw that overshadows its benefits… the story.

The story in Borderlands is so paper-thin and dull that it shames the plot-driven RPG genre. When constructing any Role Playing Game, your first and primary objective is to craft a memorable story. Borderlands has you rolling your eyes and sighing in boredom at every turn. Anytime that some glimmer of interest appears, its quickly polluted by the rest of the games idiocy.

If nothing else, the FPS features of the game are up to par and will likely please fans. On a pair of consoles where online play and graphics are all that matters, Borderlands fits right in. It provides the depraved FPS audience with a slight departure from their used to- while also giving them the shooter elements they love so much. For $60, it’s a decent buy for FPS fans that like to pretend they play and enjoy a lot of RPGs (Marvel Ultimate Alliance and Mass Effect aren’t RPGs). For people that are looking for a true RPG experience, save your money and buy a DS.