Gaming

Borderlands: Like Fallout 3, but backwards

I played the entire game with a friend, and by doing so, fetch quest after fetch quest became a month of uninhibited blood-splattered co-operative mayhem

"Like playing Fallout 3 in reverse" is about as close to describing 2K's RPG Borderlands in a nutshell as I can manage.

Instead of exiting a vault to spend 30 hours shooting the granola out of anything that moves, as in Fallout 3, Borderlands has you spend 30 hours shooting the granola out of anything that moves before leading you into a vault. Replace Fallout 3's Raider enemies with Maniacs and radscorpions with skags, and you've pretty much got a basic description of Borderlands -- like Fallout 3, only slightly different, and played in reverse.

Good job then, that I'd piggin' marry Fallout 3 it's so good. It may therefore not win this year's gold medal in a massive surprises competition that I also enjoyed Borderlands. But it feels like a game that's had its personality removed and its lips sewn together like that creepy dude in Oddworld: Abe's Odyssey, which freaked the sweet bejeezus out of me 12 years ago.


As with most characters in Borderlands, this guy hates talking

Gearbox, the developer of Borderlands, will tell you the game is an RPS -- a 'role-playing shooter' -- but in reality it's just a first-person shooter with pre-pubescent aspirations of being an RPG. Critical to an RPG's appeal is the ability to develop characters, relationships and story -- three things over which the game falls flat on its looks-cel-shaded-but-actually-isn't face. It has about three lines of dialogue in total, characters that seem to hate talking, and a story so vacuous and wafer-thin I still don't even really know what the hell I was aiming to achieve.

In many ways the game's entire story could be summarised in an opening cut-scene video. Where the game ends, in terms of story, most RPGs would begin. And so I refuse to call the game an RPG just because it involves levelling up a character. It's 90 per cent shooting, and in my book that says it's a shooter.


Midgets: you'll kill loads of them. Another reason this game rocks

But that's where I stop firing my semi-automatic criticism gun, because Borderlands is just so much damn fun. And if you play in co-op with a friend, that fun is magnified tenfold. I played the entire game with my regular Xbox Live co-gamer, and CNET UK regular Pokeh, and by doing so, fetch quest after fetch quest became a month of uninhibited blood-splattered co-operative mayhem.

So while Borderlands may seem like a weird-looking Fallout 3 knock-off, and while its almost entirely mute NPCs do nothing to liven up its grey and desolate world, it's still insanely compelling fun for shooter fans. Just don't let the 'role-playing' marketing spiel convince you that you're in for a game that paints a canvas with rich dialogue and story-telling, because frankly Actua Soccer 2 had more compelling characters, and they were footballers.