Tons of guns!

At first glance, Borderlands comes off as a rough-and-tumble first-person exercise delving into a damn-near fetishistic love of firearms.

At first glance, Borderlands comes off as a rough-and-tumble first-person exercise delving into a damn-near fetishistic love of firearms.

This one takes it to a whole new level with its constant bell-and-whistle upgrades, like pistols with scopes or shotguns with rocket attachments. Not to mention the numerous elemental side effects your guns can cause your poor enemies, such as burning them with corrosive acid or just lighting them on fire.

But that’s not all. One of the game’s biggest selling points before its release was the millions of guns available. With all the different upgrades and elemental effects, this number isn’t really an exaggeration in Borderlands, or as you could also call it, “Tons of Guns.”

That name, which Gearbox Software really should’ve come up with and used, also suits the game’s style and attitude quite well, as Borderlands sets itself apart with a wicked sense of humor. One look at the game’s cover, with its brilliantly twisted art, and that should be perfectly clear.

Borderlands‘ bizarre set of characters and dialogue also serves up a mean bit of tongue-in-cheek to complement the game’s ridiculous violence. The plot follows a small group of mercenaries searching for a legendary alien vault on a planet of outlaws and carries a feel somewhere between the Fallout series, Firefly and a Tarantino-style Western.

The people you meet are all quirky in their own way, from the humorously too-enthusiastic claptrap robots to the assorted hillbillies that give you jobs and the bandits populating the landscape—including psychotic shotgun wielding-midgets.

Your characters, for their part, enjoy the slaughter they engage in, often making snide remarks about whoever’s brains they just splattered all over the dusty ground. Enemy intros usually have revealing sarcastic asides as well.

Topping it all off is the game’s unique visual style, which adds to its overall levity. Had it looked like every other grit-colored shooter, a lot of its character and dark charm would’ve been lost.

But if you’re expecting to play Borderlands like any other first-person shooter, you’re not going to last long, since this isn’t really a shooter in a traditional sense. As Gearbox puts it, the game is an RPS—a role-playing shooter—which is exactly the hybrid it sounds like.

You start the game by choosing between one of four characters who all have different special abilities, such as an emergency turret deployment or temporary invisibility. Level progression works like any traditional role-playing game, with points given to upgrade stats and unlock new abilities from a branching tree of available specialties.

But the far bigger part of the Borderlands experience is collecting loot while making a name for yourself.
Basically this amounts to a whole lot of weapons upgrades.

You’re going to be constantly finding new and better guns, dropping old ones from the small stash you keep in your trusty backpack, and reaping the carnage-tastic benefits of your new score until something better comes along. The weapons themselves are a blast to use and there’s always a newer, shinier gun just waiting to be found.

That, and there’s never a shortage of baddies trying to murder you. After all, if you weren’t given an opportunity to use your tons of guns, the game would be doing you a disservice, right? And if you’re playing co-op, the loot the enemies drop will be better, meaning more rare items and more powerful guns.

The downside, if there is one, is that this means there’s little to do other than blow your enemies away, and with such an open-ended, mission-based RPG approach Borderlands‘ plot is kind of flimsy.

A strong plot doesn’t seem to be what Gearbox was going for anyway: This is a game whose sense of humor and personality are really the best things about it. Well, that and all the goddamn guns you get to play with.