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I really think, when the year is said and done, that "Borderlands" will end up being the quietest great game release of the year.

Clearly, this is the year for "Madden 10", "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" and "Uncharted 2" to really shine; for those that loved last year's "Fallout 3" and for those that love "Diablo" on PC and for those that love any kind of first-person shooter, all three genres magically come together for a game that is all about one thing: loot.

"Borderlands" calls itself an RPS, "role-playing shooter."  Over the course of its 25-to-30-hour playing time in single player, the goal is to navigate a planetary wasteland taking out everything in your way, while trying to pick up weapons that continually get better/cooler/nastier.  It is lather/rinse/repeat at its finest--your character goes to get missions from any number of random non-playable characters you meet across the landscape.  You go out and do the mission, which is usually along the lines of either turn-on-switches, kill-all-the-baddies, or fetch-something-and-return-it.  While on the mission, you kill everything in your way, and pick up everything they dropped--of course, all that ever is is weapons, ammo, cash, or character modifications.  The game developers even color-code it so that you can differentiate how rare something is; when you see purple or orange items on the field, you will run over to pick that stuff up!  Using an experience system, you gather XP to level up and make your character more of a badass, and utilize perks in a "skill tree" to augment certain aspects of your character.  Four character classes help with replayability.

Meg can attest to this--twice, I essentially pulled all-nighters while playing "Borderlands" because it is so addictive.  I am ready to say that this might be the most addictive game ever created, especially since my close second in this category, "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare", had definitive stop points between matches where I could have called it quits at any moment.  In "Borderlands", there's always, ALWAYS, something else to do...and, even after you beat the game, you can use the same character you have built up to play the whole single-player game again.

I haven't even mentioned multiplayer; you can always log in to grab three friends and go through the entire single-player game together; the more players you play with, the tougher the enemies get, the more of them there are, the better weapons they drop.  Straight crack-cocaine.  The weapons are plentiful...and, when I say plentiful, I mean that I have already seen at least a few hundred different types of guns.  Here's an example.  There are eight gun categories--revolvers, pistols, SMGs, assault rifles, sniper rifles, shotguns, grenades, and rocket launchers.  In just the shotgun category, each gun has a different damage rating, a different reload speed, a different firing rate, a different clip size, a different zoom/scope, a different "critical" rating, and a different special, which differs from possibly lighting a guy on fire, to electrocution chances, to acidic/corrosive effects.  Or, in the case of "The Boom Stick" (a special found later in the game), you could find a shotgun that not only shoots shells, but also rockets.


And, the weapons are also scattered about in crates and cases in the game world...even the way the cases open is frickin' cool.  Vehicles help speed you around the game world, and later, you don't have to even walk from checkpoint to checkpoint.  If you die, you lose cash to reappear at your last save station; your weapons stay intact.  All in all, a solid product...and, another perfect way to burn time until the next "COD" game arrives on November 10th.

Rating:  Opening Weekend


Feedback?  Comments?  Salma Hayek's digits?


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  Buy this game right away, and don't ask me any questions as to why that's a good move.  A game experience that will almost guarantee repeated controller abuse, lots of ManScreaming and high resale value, you will assuredly play this bad boy for months on end. 

"$40":  Usually after games have been out for a while, they drop in price slightly, or can be bought for slightly cheaper in combination with other new games.  Usually, that's about $40.  You'll feel good getting the game for this price, since it isn't quite run-out-and-get-it-right-now good, but it has enough game in the box for a few weeks' worth of enjoyment.

"eBay":  This game is not too bad, but you'd be better off buying it used from either or eBay.  You also might let a friend buy this game, let s/he beat it, and then try to buy it from them to make them feel better.  Yes, this does tend to feel like "Sloppy Seconds."

"Rental":  Like my cousin Ron, you should always rent games that you aren't sure about first, to make sure that your $50 is going towards something worthwhile.  For games in this category, this is the maximum amount of money ($5) and/or time (3-5 days) you'll need to either gain satisfaction from the game, or beat the game in its entirety.  Rental-rated games are also sometimes perfect for a weekend when you are going to be at home on your ass, with some time to kill.

"Dogshit":  Games like this should have never been released.  If you play this game for any reason, you will regret every second of the experience.  Further, if you can get this game for free, don't do it, because even for FREE, it will still be a negative experience for you!

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 11/05/09