In Borderlands, Gearbox politely disagrees with the common notion that a good story – or in this case, game – needs to say something important.
Borderlands is unashamedly old-fashioned. At a time when many developers are striving to evolve strong narrative cohesion and compelling plot-lines, Borderlands reduces the first-person shooter to its purest principles: the visceral thrill of ploughing through enemies with ultra-devastating weapons.
Refusing to embrace the trend towards story does not mean that Gearbox has been lazy, however. In a canny sidestep, atmosphere is used instead to preserve immersion in a perfect way. Combined with a deftness of touch rarely seen these days, the sci-fi world of Pandora feels as plausible as the ISG Ishimura or Rapture. The cel-shaded artwork is a visual feast: jaunty characters and tongue-in-cheek enemies are supported by a clean, crisp backdrop, while swirling dust bowls are punctuated by rusting, ramshackle settlements, capturing the flavour of Wild West pioneering. The sunny clime is served by a dynamic day/night cycle, and the warm desert setting makes for an inviting change after the grim claustrophobia of Fallout 3.