It's not often we see a game that effectively mixes genres to create something entirely new. Borderlands did just that this year, taking the obsessive, loot-driven mechanics of a dungeon crawler and stuffing them within the friendly and familiar confines of a first-person shooter. Borderlands also oozes style and never takes itself too seriously. It's a fun adventure, full of charismatic NPCs and an experience akin to the kind of childhood adventures you'd embark on with friends, battling imaginary monsters and building forts in the back yard.
The game features four different classes and while on the surface this may not seem like much, the sub-classes for each of these characters really makes them unique. Each character's skills are broken down into three different brackets, allowing players to mix and match skills to create their own unique class. That's not entirely new, but something that Borderlands does differently is allow players to re-spec their character at a relatively low cost. Don't like something? You can reset your skill points for just a little money and try taking your character in a new direction. Easy customization goes a long way in Borderlands.
A combination that got me through a majority of the game with a friend consisted of my Siren -- who would slow down enemies with every shot and melee attack -- and my friend's Solider class, who would throw down a turret and have a field day picking off the slow goons. This was just one of the ways the classes really compliment each other and given how easy it is to experiment with different combinations, the game really suits any play style and discovering what works best for you is an incredibly fun endeavor.
Then, there's the loot. It's the driving force behind the whole game, which features an almost bottomless well of unique weaponry. There are guns with scopes, guns that do corrosive damage, guns that do more damage than a lightning bolt from Zeus, and even guns that replace bullets with rockets. Pandora is a crazy world and exploring it will net you some very impressive weaponry.
Of course, that's not to say the game doesn't have some issues. The story is entirely forgettable, there are instances of slowdown when a lot of stuff is going on at once and the gameplay can get repetitive if the quest to find the next best gun or unlock the next character ability isn't something that particularly drives you. But Borderlands' solid gameplay, abundance of quests, easy online co-op and character customization keeps the experience fun and overshadows any small nuisances you might encounter while playing.
Do yourself a favor and buy a ticket to Pandora -- oh, and tell Scooter we're sorry about all those rides we destroyed.