Borderlands (2009)


Genre Period Developer Publisher Theme
FPS, RPG, Open-world Modern (2001 -2010) Gearbox Software 2K Sci-fi. Futuristic, Wasteland, Aliens

Borderlands is an experiment in blending RPG with FPS in an open-world setting which worked out really well. Its a charming shooter with every element of shooters in it, but also ensures a balanced level of sanity through its open-world and RPG features. In this game you play the role of a (or a group of in co-op mode) mercenary(s) with the mission of finding the legendary “vault” – a repository of advanced alien technology in the planet of Pandora. Pandora however have been mined and exploited by large interplanetary corporations through means of cheap convict labor. The corporations have left the planet releasing the convicts on their departure, which has resulted in bandit run madness and chaos. The convict turned bandits and Pandora’s dangerous wildlife make survival difficult in this planet.You have to get rid of such bandits and monsters in your quest for the vault. Eventually you will also have to face the military forces of one of the corporations who want the vault contents for themselves. Along your journey you earn skill points, learn new skills, upgrade your weapons (there are lots and lots of them) and gear and become more and more fearsome.  The setting is the planet Pandora which resembles vast post apocalyptic wastelands with some mountainous terrains, caves, and canyons as well. There are story missions and side missions which can be received from various characters or bounty boards strewn across the various in-game locations. There is a vehicle for transport and a fast travel system although most mission specific locations are inaccessible to vehicles and have to be traversed on foot. Gears, weapons and first aid can be bought and sold in vending machines across the lands. If you like both FPSs and RPGs, then this is a must-play game for you.

Game Assessment

Complexity Matrix 

Complexity Parameters Values (0, 0.5, 1)
Control Scheme 0.5: Moderately complex
Complexity 1: Complex (inventory, trading items)
Story 1: There is a story
Lore 0.5: Borderlands series
Immersion 0.5: Character identity but not role-play level
Difficulty 0.5: Some tight corners along the way
Learning Curve 0: Easy
Total Score 4/7: Mediumweight game 

Satisfaction Matrix

Needs Satisfaction Score (0-3)
Analytical 0: Not met
Creative 0: Not met
Mastery 3: Well met
Destructive 3: Well met
Entertainment 2: Moderately met
Pace 3: Well met
Horror 0: Not met
Total Score 11/21: Good Game

Game Review

TL;DR A superb open-world game, blend of FPS and RPG. Lots of shooting, fighting, hunting, and explosions. Rewarding gameplay.


  • Lots of weapons
  • RPG aspects
  • Rewards tactics
  • Good progression system
  • Nice unique art style


  • Checkpoint based saving that only saves your state and not your location
  • Some sections are repetitive
  • The “story” is not much of a story

Game completed. (DLCs in progress)

Game-time 48 hrs for primary campaign excluding DLCs.

Purpose – Excitement

Gameplay – Gameplay is generally good and rewarding. Death is not permanent – neither for you, nor for most of your enemies, i.e. enemies usually re-spawn except specific villain characters tied to the story’s progression. XP can be thus farmed but it is not really necessary as there are enough side-missions for leveling up purposes. The only tricky part in the gameplay is the checkpoint based save system. It only saves your current state and does not save your current location. If you die (in the same session) you are relocated to your nearest checkpoint; however if you quit your session then you are relocated from your nearest spawn point (spawn points are sparser than checkpoints) and also all enemies re-spawn. Apart from the save system, gameplay is good and enjoyable in every other aspect.

Graphics – Good with its own unique art style.

Performance – Good.

Entertainment – Blowing up heads with shotgun or sniper rifles is all the entertainment. Also burning enemies or striking them down with electric shocks.

Plot (if applicable) – The plot is cliched and shallow.

Replay value – There is good replay value, as you have four different characters to play with and also there is a second playthrough mode.

Immersion – Not much to speak of in this department. It is definitely not one of the most immersive games out there.

Overall it is a solid, meaty, and enjoyable experience.


Author: Rex Aurelius

Cogito ergo sum.

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