Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked

Where does the time go?

Well. A good portion of “time” went to Pandora. Not the Pandora of the ten foot tall blue aliens, which is very excellent, but Pandora as in the setting of the role-playing-shooter Borderlands by Gearbox Software. Which is also very excellent.

Having come to the genre of computer RPGs only fairly recently, after a long and dark time exclusively spent in the dreaded domain of strategy and building simulation games, I thought I’d never advance as far as  first person shooters.

But once again I didn’t count on my enormous ego that said “sure I can” when my significant other remarked recently that I lack the necessary hand-eye-coordination to play shooters.

And thus I was introduced to Borderlands.

(Note from the significant other: I didn’t actually say that. I said you would start screaming during any action scene, like you did in other action/3D games. I was 90% wrong.)

Borderlands is a first person shooter with RPG elements. Gearbox Software lovingly calls it a role-playing-shooter but it will also respond to a-lot-of-fun and great-stonking-game. Borderlands likes to be played and encourages merciless powergaming by featuring procedurally generated weapons and enemies.

I mean, this game is fun. At first both me and Jonas thought that the ceaselessly re-spawning hordes of enemies would get tiring after a while, and it is true that there are a few areas in the game were the re-spawn could be a little slower. But the positive outweighs the negative by 5.6846 × 10. Seriously.

I don’t put much stock in graphics… let me rephrase that. The graphics of a game don’t need to be state of the art, eleventy-billion polygons per character, oh-look-at-the-shiny-water-type graphics. One of my favourite games of all time is Gothic 2, which was outdated graphics-wise before it was even made. That having been said: Borderlands looks very very pretty. Not only does it look pretty, the game, from the creature design to the cinematics, oozes style in the same way Dana Barrett’s bathtub oozes pink slime. (Yeah, we watched Ghostbusters II recently, so what?)

You gotta love a game that has shotguns that shoot rockets. And rocket launchers that shoot a lot of rockets. And sniper rifles that will turn your enemies into green puddles of goo. Or electrocute them (see how nicely the eyeballs pop).

And don’t get me started on the challenges. (I want to call them achievements, but apparently us poor PC gamers don’t get to have achievements. That’s only for the big boys on the consoles. Pff.)

Okay… well, since you ask: When it comes to computer games and myself the following rule applies:

me = powergamer

I mean it. I’m the person that went to every single location in Oblivion. Every. Single. One. I’m the person that made a point of collecting every single plant in Two Worlds. Every. Single. One. (And I wish I was kidding.) I’m compulsive, and not ashamed to admit it.

And along comes Borderlands. With challenges such as I am become death (kill 10.000 enemies), Nikola is a friend of mine (250 kills with shock weapons) and the unbeatable This is not a flight simulator (4 seconds of vehicle hangtime). What’s a poor girl to do but try and get all of them? ALL. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALL!!!

Erm… yes. Speaking of vehicles. Tis a tricky thing to pull off. You make the vehicle too strong and it’s no fun anymore. You make it too fragile and it’s definitely no fun anymore, because who wants to trek through half the countryside to get back to the next vehicle station every five minutes. Luckily Borderlands does have neither of these problems and running over enemies to raise your total kill count can become dangerously obsessive.

The plot is a marvel. I won’t go into details now, because you all, like, want to find out for yourselves how cool it is, but I’ll say this much:

It’s very well written, containing some of the funniest pieces of writing I’ve seen or heard in a computer game for a looooong time. The writing on the delightfully …peculiar Patricia Tannis is to be especially praised. Also you get real characters. Most of them are batshit crazy, true, but then again that’s some of the fun of it, isn’t it?

And the plot is long. Or the game world big. That really depends on how you look at it. After every large area that Jonas and I found we thought: Okay, so it’ll be a few more missions here, then the final boss fight, then end cinematic. Only it wasn’t. Well, obviously not all the way, every game has to end sooner or later, otherwise you’ll end up with World of Warcraft.

So, wrapping up: Borderlands has very wonderful, insane writing. A cool plot. Supercool graphics. More style than Dolce & Gabana. And the gameplay isn’t too shabby either. We’re going to get the three DLC packs soon, which promise to make the game even more fantastic. I mean… zombies? Yeah, bring them on.  We can’t wait.