Borderlands

Developed in the United States by Gearbox Software
Published by 2K Games
Released in 2009 for the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360

Borderlands is Diablo with guns. Simple enough. It looks good, every weapon class plays different, every weapon class has defined strengths and weaknesses. The shooting doesn’t offer the most visceral feedback, but it’s competent. Borderlands just needs a combat system that allows players and their arsenal to run circles around inferior opponents that try to even the numbers with superior numbers and superior weapons. Too bad! Xboxification to the rescue. Not enough buttons on a controller for a competent weapon management system. Oh, and the game can’t play too fast, lest console players become overwhelmed by the pace of the game. That’s where this dungeon crawler blunders: When Gearbox had a chance to emulate the out-in-the-open combat that was done so well in 2001’s Serious Sam: The First Encounter, they opted for lessons from 2004’s World of Warcraft, where progress is defined by gear and character strength rather than the player’s skill level. And into the murky depths of Average Video Game Land™, Borderlands goes.

★★