Borderlands (Microsoft Xbox 360, 2009)
Borderlands is a far-out first-person shooting and driving game with a penchant for team-based tactics. The game is designed to be played cooperatively with up to four players, though it can be played solo as well. Set on a science fiction frontier planet where anarchy rules, the action-adventure casts the player as a mercenary character of one of four basic types: A well-rounded soldier skilled with weapons and vehicles, a hulking berserker specialized in heavy weapons and up-close melee combat, a stealthy siren with the power to disable enemies and vanish from view, and a sniping-specialist hunter with a pet hawk that helps in battle. The characters have complementing strengths and weaknesses, so in campaign missions as well as in pick-up battles, there are advantages for different character types that work together as a balanced team.<br><br>In the main campaign, players fight through rewarding missions in the wilds of the desolate planet, engaging in high-speed vehicular battles and small-squad combat through sophisticated settings in which solid recon and tactical planning win the day. Characters gain experience and level up, with customizable ability improvements as in a traditional role-playing game. With interchangeable parts, thousands and thousands of different possible weapons are available in Borderlands, and a character's proficiency and accuracy chances rise with repeated use of a certain weapon type. Resources such as ammunition and cash are shared among the squad, but the weapons and armor pieces that drop from fallen enemies may be up for grabs. In some multiplayer modes, characters on the same team can duel one another for the right to claim gear from a slain monster.<br><br>Designed for play on Internet-connected consoles and computers, the game features multiplayer combat with the four basic character archetypes in quick, online pick-up games. The high-def art style portrays eccentrically geared, slightly exaggerated human forms, in a land of rich, gritty textures, with a hint of an outline drawn around people and objects, for the appearance of a graphic novel come to life. Borderlands was developed by Gearbox Software, the studio behind the Brothers in Arms World War II games, acclaimed for their realistic portrayal of squad combat and historical accuracy of weapons and vehicles in fine detail.