11 11 / 2011
I recently picked Borderlands up again after a 2+ year hiatus. The last time I tried playing the post-apocalyptic team-based shooter, there was a crippling bug that prevented any progress from being saved beyond the 5-hour mark. The only thing worse than discovering that your hard trip through Pandora, blasting baddies with a friend, was erased was when it happened a second time.
Tired of being fooled, I tucked the game away to pick it up when Gearbox managed to patch it up. Over two years since, the bugs have been eradicated and I recently finished a playthrough with a friend. Putting in close to 40 hours into a game gives you a strong appreciation for its strengths as well as its faults.
Interestingly, even the sheen from the game’s features begin to show the tarnish before long. The massive array of guns found in Borderlands is tantalizing enough throughout most of the early campaign but as the novelty wears off and the passionless, routine search for better weapons becomes standard fare, what was once a draw in becomes a chore.
The dizzying weapon possibilities means distinguishing one weapon’s worth on the battlefield in comparison to your own outfit requires the following accounting: picking up the weapon, navigating to the item screen, comparing the properties of the newfound weapon to your current setup, weighing the pros of a better zoom with the cons of less damage, ascertaining the worth of elemental effects in terms of damage per shot, and so forth. Rinse and repeat x 1000 as every enemy is bound to drop a weapon at some point. I once killed an Ant Soldier, back from an afternoon of skeet shooting I suppose, who managed to drop a corrosive sniper rifle upon combustion.
In trying to be the best shooter possible by providing an absurd amount of guns, Borderlands provides the player with too much of a good thing. Players are left with a game consumed by frequent visits to the menu system. Plagued by over complication, the resulting experience is the very opposite of the visceral excitement which has come to define shooters of the modern generation.