Borderlands: Co-Op Bliss

Posted on January 30, 2010

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I had very little to say against Borderlands…until my girlfriend’s level 45 Siren was erased due to a corrupted file! Ugh! But, I’ll get to that later. Borderlands is an ultimate co-op game. Blasting and bashing rodents’ heads solo is alright…but in Borderlands, the more players the better.

What lends Borderlands to great co-op isn’t just the funny characters and gun-swapping, it’s the mix of casual gaming with hardcore shooting and character customs. Borderlands truly skirts a fine line between hardcore and lighter gaming. My wingman (winglady, actually) isn’t a hardcore FPS gamer, but she readily picked this game up. And when it was hard for her, the funny moments alleviate stress! Jumping on your partner’s head, jumping on enemies’ heads, or NPCs hamming it up all contribute to a fun FPS game. Plus, the game is unbelievably quotable.  It challenges FPS vets with stat trackers and tickles more casual gamers with fun characters, cool art, and enemies that run right in front of you!
So, while the game isn’t too stressful, for players who bring stress into Borderlands (a la co-op buddies that don’t always get along), Borderlands has an ingenius duel mode where players can challenge each other at the drop of an axe or pipe as it may be. So, if you’re buddy stole a badass sniper rifle or left you stranded to die while he’s off collecting ammo, start a challenge and demand satisfaction! It’s a really brilliant feature I’d love to see in lots of shooters. Gaming gets us mad at our friends sometimes…why not shoot their heads off for it? Ahem…virtual heads of course.

I would have liked to see a bit more of a memorable story though. I hardly remember the plot. I do remember the notorious let down that is the climax of the main story line. But, it was fun getting there no less.

The buggies-o-war were fun to drive in fights. Gunners get unlimited rocket ammo. Drivers can make gooey tread marks out of almost any enemy. Only bad part of driving was the sticky objects wheels always seem to get stuck on. 

Also, it would have been cool to see some more wheel-and-deal missions or even a derby arena! Also, it was fun blowing up enemies on wheels, but they were scarecely seen in Pandora (which is weird because the first enemies you see ride in all badass like in their wheels). When you’re shooting dudes in the head all day, aiming at a shifty car is a great change of pace.

The biggest problem by far is the corrupt save files however. Ugh! I’ve read quite a bit about the corrupt file in Gearbox’s game. Apparently, it’s not just an isolated episode that the gaming gods bestowed upon me. It’s an epidemic that many Borderland fans are experiencing. Since I last checked, Gearbox is working on this but hasn’t been able to replicate the problem. Sooner or later they’ll fix it, I’m sure. Til then… hold on to your butt cheeks and back up your saves if you can.

I’ve also read/experienced a lot of achievement problems for Borderlands’ DLC (Island of Dr. Ned). If you do the DLC co-op style, you or your wingman is destined to NOT get achievements along the way. Ouch! Fortunately, there is a rememdy for this: Whoever doesn’t get the achievement has to go back to Xbox Dashboard, load Borderlands and the DLC mission as the party leader or in single player.

Despite the bugs, this game is seriously fun. Enough fun for me to pop it back in my system after we encountered the bugs. That says a lot when there are so many great FPS games out there. I hope to see many installations of Borderlands in the future. Perhaps some DLC that are PC specific. Origin stories or spinoffs of any of the four PCs would be enticing! There’s sequel potential too. Perhaps when the vault opens again (in 200 years). Hrm….

P.S. Gearbox…please find a way to bring T.K. back…again.

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Posted in: Op-Ed