Monday, August 3, 2009

Preview: Borderlands (PC, 360, PS3)

Earlier this summer, famed game designer CliffyB (Gears of War, Unreal) stated that role-playing games are the future of shooters. We've already seen the first few steps in this direction with games like Fallout 3 and Mass Effect, but 2K Games' Borderlands looks like exactly what CliffyB was talking about. When you start out the game, you are given the choice between four characters, each with a respective class. Roland is a Soldier, who plays more like a traditional paladin in that he has good combat skills and can also be a healer. Lilith is a Siren, a mage-like class with psychic abilities. Mordecai is a Hunter, equipped with the standard hunting sniper rifle and a pet eagle. Finally, rounding up the group is Brick, the powerhouse Berserker with great melee abilities and is basically the group's tank. The game plays with standard FPS controls (left trigger is the scope, right trigger fires your gun) and features beautiful cel-shaded graphics to portray the post-apocalyptic setting.
The single-player game plays like an RPG in that you go into town and the people will give you quests. These quests are a lot like those you see in any MMO (Kill X amount of creatures, loot X amount of items, etc.) and as you complete these quests and kill monsters, you're awarded experience points. Rack up enough and you'll level up (wow!) which will award you points to allocate in your skill tree. Each character has three different trees in which they can place their points in. These skills will enhance each character's special abilities. For example, Roland can spend his points in the healing tree that allows him to fire his bullets at his teammates to heal them, or he can spend them to enhance the turret that he's allowed to place as support fire and cover. You also level up your proficiency with different weapons the more you use them, which increases your accuracy and damage with that weapon.
Where this game really shines is the co-op multiplayer. The game features four-player multiplayer, allowing each player to control one of the four characters. This way, each player has a specific role in the group, whether it's DPS or tanking or healing. The game also allows two players in game to duel, allowing players to test their abilities with their class. Along with voice-chat, this game may just bring the MMO experience to consoles. It's going to be exhilirating to discuss strategy with your teammates as you come upon a boss or fighting over loot that drops. Hopefully, this game will fulfill it's expected drop date of October 23, 2009.


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