Good news, the Shooter and Role Playing Game (RPG) genres are not cousins.
Thankfully this fact means that their recent child - Borderlands - is not an inbred freak. The game might remind you of Fallout 3, however, there is less narrative and character choices and far better and more traditional shooting mechanics. So, basically, it takes the shooting mechanics from Halo/Call of Duty and combines them with the open world quests and loot of something like World of Warcraft. Of course the downside of this is each genre seems to carry with them certain faults.
An example of this is that the shooting is plenty of fun, but only when you use decent weapons. All guns have stats such as damage, accuracy, possible elemental damage, reload speeds, and so on. Early in the game I had an assault rifle that did great damage for my level, however its accuracy was quite low which meant unless the enemy was right in front of me, I would rarely hit anything. This made the shooting less fun, because even though I was pointing right at something, I struggled to hit it. So in order to enjoy the shooting mechanics, you need a decent weapon.
Luckily finding that weapon should not be too hard, because there are a lot of guns in this game. Enemies are constantly dropping new weapons for you to pick up, use, or sell. However, like most loot based RPGs there are plenty of weapons that are useless and not even worth picking up at all. The flip side of this is that you are constantly pushed to keep playing to find that next rare item drop. Of course once you find that new toy, you might find out that it requires you to be a few levels higher before you can use it.
This brings us to another genetic attribute Borderlands has retained from its RPG roots; it will always compel you to keep chasing that next level up. That constant need to complete "just one more quest" is one of the best attributes the game has. There is plenty to do in Borderlands. The main quest could take you about twenty hours on your first play through if you ignored all the side quests. Add those in and the game could easily take twice that long.
Whether or not you will want to spend forty hours in Borderlands is another question. Borderlands allows for up to four player co-op (and two player split-screen if you prefer to play with another friend on the couch) so the real issues is; do you intend to play with other people online? Because if you intend to play alone you will have fun for a while, but eventually the level grind and long distance travel might make the game a little boring. The fact that the story isn't really a big deal doesn't help either.
The basic premise is that you play as one of four treasure hunters (you select which class you play as at the start) on a planet called Pandora looking for a mythical vault, which is supposed to contain vast riches and alien technology. It is a disappointment the story was not better fleshed out, because the game is filled with some great characters, so a little more work in this area would have been appreciated.
However, if you are going to play with friends online you are less likely to care about the story behind the quests anyway. It is very similar to World of Warcraft in this regard. Each quest has a story for you to read if you want, but if you simply don't care, then the objective of "collect twenty energy crystals” is there on the screen, along with your waypoint on the map so you can get right to it. The map/waypoint system is not perfect, but this is a small gripe.
Playing with friends increases the pace of the game as you grind through quests a lot quicker. There are also more enemies, which means quicker levelling up, better loot and more hectic battles. Borderlands is meant to be played online with friends, and it is there that the game truly shines.
What is cool is that your character will be consistent throughout. This is a double-edged sword, however, when it comes to quests. When you complete a quest in a friend’s game, that quest is done, even in your own game. This is good, because it means you don't have to do them all over again to progress. However, if you join someone’s game online and they complete a quest just as you join then you have completed that quest and will have to start another play through if you want to experience it yourself.
Borderlands is one of those games with plenty of little things you could complain about. But when you are in the game shooting psycho midgets, collecting a fancy new shotgun that fires rockets and levelling up your character with your buddies; those things do not seem to matter. You are having fun and will barely notice as the hours just fade away (another thing it has in common with WoW).
The game looks great. I am glad the developers went for a unique art-style instead of realistic graphics like most other games. It gives Borderlands a unique character that makes it stand out from the crowd. It also makes some of the game’s more violent moments funny and entertaining instead of horrific. Speaking of funny, this game has some great lines, land it also has one of the best intro songs I have ever heard in a game.
If you like shooters or games like Diablo you really should give Borderlands a try. Considering how much content there is the game is great value for money; especially when you factor in downloadable content for the future. It also does not hurt that the game is plenty of fun and I cannot wait to go back and play some more with my friends - except that one guy that messed up my mamma's lady parts... him, I will never play with again. (Don’t judge me; that line is in the game!).