Imperial Command of the Raccoon General

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Borderlands: Claptraps and 87 Bazillion Guns

Meet Lilith. She is a Siren, humans (and always women) who are altered by Eridian (alien) Technology or such that they obtain amazing powers. In Lilith's case, she can phasewalk, or jump into another dimension where enemies could not see or touch her, allowing her to make good her escape in nasty encounters or to sneak up and kill people behind their backs, by electtrocuting them, burining them, or melting them. As well as any other bystanders around her, because the act of going in and out of phasewalk causes a large area effect blast that is very harmful.

Anyhow I thought of using some available image but I feared copyright issues and/or too lazy to go for permissions for other individuals' screenshots and stuff, and me being busy (work+gaming itself) I thought I'd just open up flash and do a quick pic so that all you others can see a point.

Before this all gets too much, let's take a few steps back. What I am mentioning here is about Borderlands, an action Role Playing Shooter, which is a mix of First Person Shooter and an added layer of Role Playing elements. Borderlands is first released for the XBOX 360 and such consoles, but it has made itself a very capable PC port.

In the midst of my ever escalating EVE Online goals, and my exploration of Dragon Age: Origins stories, I have found a gem in Borderlands, a game I initially obtained just for the fun of it before getting the likes of Dragon Age. And whilst Dragon Age is infinitely awesome, I think there will be enough people out there writing, talking, drawing, 'fan-fictioning' or worshipping(?) Bioware's latest effort (mind you, I am trying to get ALL the downloadable content for it!) so I've decided to write instead of Borderlands, a game that seemingly has less the acclaim and spotlight compared to the Bioware epic, but one I found that I've clocked as much hours playing as I do the other.

1. Guns... lots of guns....

Borderlands is a shooter, first and foremost, so it's about guns, gunning people, and using twitch skills for the said purpose of gunning down folks. And to ensure you have an awesome time gunning people down, the game provides BAZILLIONS of gun types, made possible by allowing the AI to randomly generate weapons by mix and match of several prefixes and attributes. To that end, you'll see sniper rifles that incinerates people, submachineguns that electrocute people, shotguns with scopes, and even weapons that regenerate their own ammo. In theory, this is very similiar to how games like Diablo 2 generate loot for the players.

This is the gun-nut's paradise. There is no set specific attribute for guns, and even guns of the same unique name and type will have differing statistics everytime you (re)try to obtain it (or if two people find the same gun in their own playthroughs). Pandora is made for the gun nut. You are always looking for that bigger better gun.And the many attributes makes it really a personal choice of which gun you keep; be it that super single shot gun or the one that stack fire damage over time that literally fries the enemy in a few seconds.

2. There's a Vault in the Wasteland, but it is not Fallout...

The world of Borderlands is called Pandora, and in no way was this intentional or to mirror the recent James Cameron epic movie, though Borderlands itself does pay tribute to a lot of pop culture reference. At first, you can say Pandora is an area of desert wasteland, which will bring up the image of Fallout series games at once but that aside, there are quite a few differences, most vertainly the art style; Fallout games tend to look more serious and drab, Borderlands is more comic art style and colorful. Borderlands thus is more humorous, take itself less seriously and more action oriented than the more RPG style of Fallout.

Populating the world of Pandora are human settlers who have been abandoned in a recent corporate evacuation, former penal workers turned bandits, quirky and annoying and sometimes very comical robots called Claptraps (it's official desgination is CL4P-TP) and of course alien fauna. In all this mix of elements, there lies the VAULT, something left behind by a race of ancient aliens that is rumored to contain untold bounty. That is where you, an off-worlder comes in.

3. I still like the chick, no matter what...

Players get to choose to be one of 4 possible characters, and though each is said to have their own personal agenda/backstory, the game itself is caters for you, as one of the 4, to go search for the Vault.. There is Roland, an ex-soldier/mercenary whose unique class ability is to deploy sentry turrets and is as capable with guns as he is capable at supporting team mates (in multiplayer). Supposedly he is looking at Pandora for a someone he once swore to kill.

Mordecai is a hunter, as deadly at range with a sniper rifle as he is at close range with his blade, and has a pet Bloodwing that he can use to attack enemies. Apparently a disgruntled person, he is here on Pandora looking for bounty.

For the upclose and personal types, there's Brick, a towering, hulking muscleman who excels at beating the crap out of people with his fists, I kid you not, his fists are deadlier than guns. Other than that he also likes explosives. For such a violent background I did not expect to read that Brick is on Pandora looking for his sister.

Of course, there's the aforementined babe, Lilith. A Siren, bonafide redhead hottie whom when asked how she got her powers, she claims that she obtains it from crossing the 'hotness threshold'. "Any woman as good looking as me can do what I do," so she says. She is on Pandora looking for a woman, supposedly another siren.

(I don't know why they have such backstories though when it is never addressed in game..but still...)

Each character has a skill tree almost similiar to Diablo 2 style as well, that helps boost combat prowess and overall abilities, which is unlocked and improved via skillpoints obtained when a player levels up after obtaining sufficient experience points. They also have inventories where they can store and equip items, weaponsry and the like.

4. I know I've heard that before!

Borderlands is quite the funny game. Character give out funny one liners that are jokes, or takes on other references. Indeed, it also has a great deal of pop culture references, such as character names like Mad Mel and Bruce McClaine which are an obvious take for Mad Max played by Mel Gibson and John McClaine (Die Hard series) played by Bruce Willis. Go about the world and you may find damaged Claptraps in need of repair. In that state you can hear these robots crying... and muttering, "I can see the Code...." which is an obvious take on the Matrix.

Of course My favourite reference is of the in game boss, Jaynis Cobb who lives in Jaynistown. Anyone who has watched JossWhedon's Firefly series should be able to instantly make the connection with the TV shows character Jayne, and the one episode which was titled "Jaynestown".

Fore more on that you can see here:

Well, I think I've wrote enough for the day.... Now to find that better gun....