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October 6 2009
Borderlands - PS3 Preview
Release Date Distributer Publisher Developer
23/10/20092K Games2K GamesGearbox
Offline Players Online players Price Anticipation
12-4$109.95
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Borderlands looks fantastic visually.
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That's Brick with the big gun!

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Weapons in Borderlands are extremely varied.
Borderlands' developer Gearbox Software should need no introduction. The company is responsible for some of the most loved games of all time including the Brothers in Arms franchise and Halo: Custom Edition on PC. Beyond that they have developed six titles in a little franchise known as Half-Life, including the quite superb PS2 port of Half-Life in 2001. With that in mind there was little doubt that any new IP from the company would make people sit up and take notice, and Borderlands is that game.

Set on an post-apocalyptic looking alien world called Pandora, this planet was one inhabited by people looking to find mineral resources. When little is found those rich enough leave the planet leaving behind the poor and those struggling to survive. Seven earth years later the seasons are turning from Winter to Spring, with the planets non-human inhabitants emerging from hibernation. Borderlands sees players struggling to survive on this hostile planet all the while searching for a mysterious alien vault which promises a great prize. Exactly what that prize is remains to be seen, that is, if it even exists!

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Preparing to take a few punches.
In essence Borderlands is a First Person Shooter, but with RPG styled character progression and customisation. In terms of a visual and thematical style the developers have taken inspiration from the Mad Max movies, and Firefly TV series. The game includes 30 main quests to complete, and around 130 side-missions. Of course we can expect plenty of secrets to be discovered in such a large world.

Upon starting Borderlands gamers will have to select from one of four different characters. First of all we have the Berserker Brick, who likes to use heavy weapons and his fists and is able to take a large amount of damage. Mordecai is a hunter who prefers sniper rifles and revolvers and has a flying alien pet called Bloodwing with him which Mordecai can send off to attack enemies. Roland prefers combat rifles and shotguns, can deploy turrets which has a shield effect which also heals nearby friends. Finally we have Lilith, a Siren, who likes to use incendiary, shock and corrosive guns and is a specialised assassin who can become invisible for periods of time.

Now that all sounds well and good, but certainly the most unique selling point of this game is the random content generator which randomises the enemies and weapons found throughout the game. Indeed with so many variables there are literally millions of different weapons in the game, each with differing and unique properties. Enemies drop these weapons, but of course the biggest and best are reserved for when you defeat the boss-like characters.

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Character design in Borderlands is impressive.
During the game you can also hop behind the wheel of a vehicle to speed around the land or partake in some vehicle-to-vehicle combat, complete with extensive damage modeling and customisation. As you defeat enemies they will drop loot which you can pick up and collect - they are colour coded so the more important and valuable items can be easily spotted - with this loot able to be sold to upgrade you weapons.

Multi-player is another key component to this title, in fact one could say it will be integral to the experience. While playing the game it is possible to drop-in or drop-out of any game running so you and three of your friends can work through the game together in a co-op mode. Indeed even when the four of you are running around the land you are free to go anywhere at any time. We know that people can melee to enter one-on-one combat together, and we would be somewhat surprised if there wasn't some kind of 4-player Deathmatch on offer somewhere - although we haven't heard anything about this yet.

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Now that's a big, bad enemy.
As you have probably noticed already one of the most interesting aspects of this game is the visuals. Powered by Unreal Engine 3 the development team at Gearbox underwent a near mutiny some time ago when the visual style, akin to most other games on the market, wasn't doing much. They switched to a cel-shaded style which has given the game a more unique personality. If you're still not sure what game it will be similar to, think Prince of Persia on the PS3, or XIII on the PS2.

With 2K Games having delayed Bioshock 2 until February next year that leaves Borderlands as 2K Games' big Christmas title for hardcore gamers. Fortunately the developers have a great track record, and this game is, from what we've seen, shaping up as a brilliant title. Expect a release around the globe in late October.