I finished Borderlands with mixed emotions. Not because of the less-than-stellar ending, but because it was a first-person shooter, a genre which I had previously eschewed, and I LOVED it. I can hear yourself saying, “So you like FPS, asiangrrlMN. What’s the problem?” The problem is, when I first started my journey into gaming, I was adamant against FPS. I was a bit of a dilettante when it coming to trying games from different genres, but I stayed very clear of FPS because, BLOPS, ugh – no way I wanted any part of that. Yes, I thought all FPS were like Black Ops: linear, on the rails, and just senseless killing. In addition, the few I’ve tried in the past made me nauseous, which is the very opposite of fun. It didn’t help that the first time I tried Portal*, I had my now-ex yelling at me to SHOOT HERE, JUMP THROUGH THIS HOLE, MOVE THERE. It was stressful, to say the least, and I didn’t even make it out of the first room before I quit.
Fast-forward a few years and to my recent foray into video games. If you read my first post, you’ll know that I’ve dabbled in different genres, but I steered clear of FPS. Then, Steam had one of its many crazy sales, and I ended up buying Portal and Portal 2 for something like seven bucks total. At Ian’s urging and because I’d heard how great Portal was, I reluctantly gave it another try. To my surprise, I was quickly hooked and powered my way through it. I got stuck a time or two, but I finished the game with gusto. Still. I had a hard time thinking of Portal as an FPS, so I went about my merry way thinking that I was doing just fine with my RPG, turn-based strategies, hack and loot games, etc. Then along came Borderlands and BioShock (I’m way behind the times. What can I say? I’m new to games), and I had to throw all I thought I knew about my gaming preferences out the window. They both grabbed me for completely different reasons, but I want to focus on Borderlands as I actually finished it.
What can I say about Borderlands? It’s an FPS set in the fictional world of Pandora. I chose to be Lilith, the Siren, in part because she’s female. Her active skill is the Phasewalk, which renders her invisible to her enemies. She can move much faster when she’s in Phasewalk, and later on, you can add elemental damage and melee damage to it as you level up and/or find elementals that you can ‘eat’. Lilith is a badass, and I get to be a badass-by-proxy when I’m playing as her.
The graphics are done in a cartoon-style, cel-shaded, with bright, colorful backgrounds that are fun to move through. The weapons come at you fast and furiously. From my first shitty SMG to my trusty Liquid Thunder sniper rifle in hand, I marched my way through the many different areas of Pandora, mowing down skags, spiderants, psychos, bruisers, the little bastards I really hate, and various bosses to my heart’s content. I was positively gleeful as I shot enemy after enemy and watched them explode into pieces. I snickered as I saw a stray leg here, an arm there, and a torso waaaay over there. There’s something soothing about eliminating the enemy with extreme prejudice, and, no, it didn’t make me want to pick up a sniper rifle in real life and shoot up a nearby shopping mall. I knew it was a fantasy, and I never once confused it with reality. It was a way to release the aggression I have built up inside, and a safe one at that.
What else do I like about Borderlands? I am somewhat obsessive, and Borderlands feeds into that by allowing me to level up, to continuously swap out my weapons for better weapons, and to fight wave after wave of enemies for as long as I wanted. I also like the loot-fest aspect of it, upon which I touched earlier. I can let my obsessive nature take over as I’m opening chest after chest, locker upon locker, hoping for something bigger, better, and shinier. I also like that you have several side missions in addition to the main one so if you get bored, you can switch it up.
You know what else is awesome? An almost unlimited amount of ammo. In most areas, there are plenty of places to buy it if the enemies you kill don’t drop enough. Currently, I have the capacity to carry 1,260 SMG rounds and 980 rounds for my combat rifle. I can ‘only’ carry 108 sniper bullets, but if I’m doing it correctly, I don’t need more than that. I enjoy the multiplayer, too, as I found out when Ian and I romped through the Rust East Commons and other areas together. I’m not much of a team player, but I can’t deny that shooting all the things side by side with Roland (Ian) is a hell of a lot of fun. That’s how I would sum up Borderlands in general –it’s just a blast to play. It helps that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a romp, and it never tries to be more than that.
It’s my first FPS, but I am pretty sure it won’t be my last.
*I don’t know if I actually consider Portal an FPS, but you do shoot from a first-person perspective even if you’re not killing anything,** so technically, it’s an FPS.
**Except turrets, and later on, well, let me not spoil it for the three people who haven’t played Portal yet.