Thursday, July 2, 2009

E3 09: Borderlands Preview

In an age where shooters are all trying to outdo each other’s realism, it’s refreshing to hear Gearbox’s creative director Mikey Neumann tell us that, "realism can eat shit and die." This bolshy mantra is first made apparent in Borderland’s new art style. It’s gone cel-shaded since we last saw it, making for a flashier, comic-book style vibe. This succeeds at streamlining the focus of the game from a gritty, desolate atmosphere to pure, raw fun.

Borderlands is a "Role-Playing Shooter" from Gearbox Interactive, the creators of Half-Life: Opposing Force and the Brothers in Arms series. It aims to combine the open-ended structure and leveling commonly found in role-playing games with first-person shooter combat and a healthy dose of co-op. Borderlands is primarily set in a desert wasteland of the hostile planet Pandora, where your rag-tag crew of treasure hunters is looking for a legendary alien vault containing unspeakable technology. Unfortunately, a lot of others are looking for this vault as well, forcing you to duke it out with them while also surviving the local wildlife. Thus begins your quest of exploration, looting, mission-hunting, and killing things, all of which will take you across miles of open terrain.

Arguably, Borderland’s biggest selling point is that it will contain over a million different weapons. This may sound like an exaggeration, but it’s not. Each gun is comprised of multiple components that are randomly generated and cobbled together. As such, no two weapons will ever be exactly alike. You’ll also have the option to make your own custom weapons out of parts that you find lying around the environment. Creatures disappear and leave ammo and weapon parts behind, which is another wonderfully daft example of Gearbox’s reluctance to conform to the standards of reality. This custom nature also extends to different ammo types, of which there are plenty. The most noteworthy of these are the self-explanatory "healing bullets," which sound like great fun in co-op.

Check out the rest of the preview here, at TGR.
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