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E3 2009: Borderlands eyes-on impressions

We got to see Gearbox Software's original first person shooter Borderlands at last year's E3 and at that time it looked like it would be a cool game in terms of mixing FPS gameplay with action-RPG elements. The art style of the game, set on a desert like world, looked fine. But it didn't jump at you and scream, "Look at me." either.

That is not the case anymore. At 2K Games' meeting room at E3 2009 this week we got a chance to see the new art style of Borderlands in a live (but hands-off) demo. And it pretty much looked incredible. The cel-shaded (or concept art style or whatever you want to call it) look of Borderlands looks like you are seeing a 3D comic book come to life and it certainly makes the game stand out (in a good way).
The storyline of Borderlands hasn't changed. Your characters are still looking for stuff on the alien planet of Pandora and are shooting the various aliens who stand in their way. While the game can be played as a single player game it really should be played in co-op mode for up to four players involved.

The E3 2009 demo showed off just some of the features. Characters can go on specific missions in Borderlands but they can also take a break from those objectives and go exploring around the area looking for more loot and items. Of course they could run into creatures who want them for lunch such as the on-fire creature known as the Badass (that's its name, we are just the messanger) and the spider-ants (yep a large hybrid of a spider and ant).

Shooting these creatures as well as finding objects in the game lets characters collect loot and items; new ammo for weapons, new tech and especially new weapons which are created randomly in the game. From a mix of a pistol and shotgun to a weapon that fires electrical charges and more there will possibly be more weapons in Borderlands than in any other first person shooter ever created.

Item drops are not the only action-RPG element in Borderlands. Your characters can also gain new skills and abilities to use. We got a demo of this element when one of the player characters "Hulked out" and started getting bigger and stronger. Naturally players can use this to tear apart enemies with their bare hands.

Borderlands is still looking like it will be one of the more unique games we have seen and the art style revamp certainly makes the game stand out even more. Borderlands is currently set for release this fall (Gearbox is guessing October but don't hold them to that) and we are looking forward to getting our hands on these characters and exploring Pandora for ourselves.


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