Borderlands Retro Review, or a Look at the OG Looty Shooty

“Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” – me, waiting for the end of this game.

Look, I really wanted to like this one… But as it turns out, I pretty much hate this game. It started okay enough, I guess, but it was about the time I’d discovered the third area of the game that was a desert covered in trash (just like the first two areas) when I’d really started to think that that was all there was going to be in this game. And, to my dismay, I was mostly right. I spent about twenty hours wandering around in similar looking drab environments, gunning down palette swaps of the same half-dozen enemy types while yawning my way through mind-numbing side quests.

Now, normally I would have been bored with a game with these problems, but instead, I was mostly cussing and yelling because every facet of the game is plagued by clunkiness. Need to do some platforming? That’ll be clunky, since the character can jump no more or less than five meters in the air and every slope in the game is apparently covered in an invisible sheet of ice. Is there a boss coming up? There’s gonna be clunk, and you might have to reset the game when the fight is over because there’s a good chance that the exit to the arena will glitch out and not work. Want to go for a drive? That’s the clunkiest of all – hopefully you won’t make it to your destination just to get your car inexplicably pinned underneath a boulder or part of a building or something and have to walk back to the car generator. Honestly, I can’t think of a system in the game that felt smooth or natural.

And don’t even get me started on that wet fart of a revive mechanic.

Flynt, in all his ghetto fabulousness.

I know, that’s a lot of hate. There’s more still, but I want to look at the positives, because I’m getting tired of whining and there are good things that actually exist. For instance, the humor is pretty good. Just about every line Scooter said made me chuckle, and Patricia’s arguments with her tape recorder were pretty damned entertaining. Also, the addictive looting helped make the gameplay a little more bearable – there’s nothing better than finally finding a better lightning shotgun than the one you’ve been carrying for hours.

But the truly good stuff, the memorable stuff that helped me realize why Borderlands is an ongoing series, didn’t happen until the very last segment of the game. In the final stretch, the game was stripped of the boring missions and frustrating platforming, the environment changed a bit, and some truly well designed enemies finally took center stage. And, without getting into any spoilers, the story ramped up suddenly as well. Once the credits started rolling, I couldn’t wait to find out what happens next in the Borderlands universe. I’m not going to lie – I was grinning from ear to ear for the entire final chapter and suddenly hungry for more.

Space lady is looking down and judging me for playing this game.

However, that’s not enough to give this one a recommendation. Not after hours and hours of frustration or, worse yet, boredom. Maybe the multiplayer or DLC would make playing this game worthwhile, but the single player campaign just doesn’t. I will recommend watching a Let’s Play or something to see the story come together, but that’s it. Okay, time to see if the sequel gets its act together and addresses these issues, or if it’s as much of a dud as this one.

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