Month of Joy: “Borderlands, the Game” by Paul Weimer (A Sorta Review)

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Sometimes, blowing off steam is exactly what you need after a hard day in the mundane job. Sometimes you want to wander in an alien landscape, with not much more of an agenda than to kill mutant creatures, cannibals and other assorted beasties.

Sometimes, you want enter the world of Borderlands.

Borderlands was an action role-playing first-person shooter video game developed by Gearbox Software in 2009. Set on the planet Pandora [Which has nothing to do with the movie Avatar], a down-at-the-heels dry and desiccated planet, the plot revolves around how the main character, a soldier of fortune, is looking for a legendary Vault of alien artifacts that many have looked for, and died for, in vain.  Will you be any different?

You, however, are special. In Borderlands, you get to play one of four characters, each with special abilities and powers that give you an edge in the dog-eat-dog word of Pandora. From Brick, a tank of a character who can go berzerk and take on enemies with his fists, to Lilith, who can phase out of existence, to the solid soldier Roland and the sniper/hunter Mordecai, the gameplay at base may be the same for each character, but their individual powers and styles make for four different game experiences.

And what an experience. The physical puzzles, such as they are in the game, are pretty simple. You aren’t playing this game to recapture the experience of Myst, you are playing to shoot and kill things, and occasionally press a button needed to finish a quest. The game uses a quest-for-hire system to help the character get experience and money to buy the equipment needed to continue the main plot. The treasures are all weapons, health aids, shields and other geegaws that help your character kill things more easily, or survive in combat, or aid your powers. Its extremely stripped down and basic.

The stylized graphics look comic book like and are striking for pushing that aesthetic and making it work. And even though this is a shoot-em-up,  there are moments of character humor, too, especially with the claptrap robots.

This is the game I play when I want to blow off steam, and not think about things too much. I don’t have to think too hard. And shooting a shotgun into the face of a raving little midget running at you with an axe is surprisingly satisfying. And killing a particularly difficult monster gives me a real high.

I haven’t picked it up yet, but there is a sequel with four new characters and a new plot:  Borderlands 2.  Ain’t no rest for the wicked, indeed.


Not really a Prince of Amber, but rather an ex-pat New Yorker that has found himself living in Minnesota for the last 9 years, Paul “PrinceJvstin” Weimer has been reading SF and Fantasy for longer than Shaun has been alive. In addition to pitching in at Skiffy and Fanty, he can be found at his own blog, Blog Jvstin StyleSF Signal, the Functional NerdsTwitterLivejournal and many other places on the Internet.

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

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