A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Borderlands is a very gruesome first-person shooter meant for adults only. Besides using strong language and mature humor, the game is quite violent. Players amass a large collection of weapons which they use to kill humans and creatures native to the planet they're visiting. When enemies are killed, blood often shoots in the air. In some cases, limbs fly off bodies and heads can be decapitated. Prepare for plenty of blood and gore. The game is also playable online, a feature Common Sense Media does not recommend for children under the age of 12.
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What's it about?
Borderlands follows four mercenaries -- Brick the Berserker, Lilith the Siren, Mordecai the Hunter, and Roland the Soldier -- as they visit the planet of Pandora in search of a legendary alien vault believed to contain rare technology and infinite wealth. Guided by a guardian angel and the inhabitants of Pandora, players choose a character and begin their journey. The game is best described as a first-person shooter with some role-playing elements, such as gathering experience points and boosting specific combat skills. The story is open, so players can choose to take on quests linked to the main adventure or accept side quests to earn cash or experience. Players can tackle the adventure solo, with another player in split-screen mode, or in four-player cooperative action online.
Is it any good?
Borderlands' big draw is its huge arsenal, which consists of thousands of guns randomly generated throughout its environments. The weapons feel quite different compared to other shooters and are really fun to use. Ammo contains elemental properties that can add acid, fire or electric damage. The urge to test out newly discovered firearms is often enough incentive to march through the lengthy campaign.
Complementing the unique arsenal is a vibrant world that employs a cel-shaded animation reminiscent of a comic book. The game features a wide variety of enemies, both big and small. They're not always very smart, however. While you would expect animals to run toward you without a thought, it's hard to watch human enemies present themselves as such easy targets. The game also includes an impressive, seamless online experience where up to three players can join your game at any time. Alternatively, you can join anyone else's game. Groups of players can also enter arenas for four-player competitive multiplayer, making it very easy to get lost in the world of Borderlands.
Online interaction: Players can join others games at any time in cooperative and competitive play, and the game includes open chat with others. That means the range of language and ideas (good or bad) that could be encountered online is unknowable.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the game's artistic style, which gives it the appearance of a moving comic book. Do you think it enhances the experience? Do you wish other games used similar graphics?
Do you think the game's comic book aesthetic alters the depiction of violence in any significant way? Does it make the violence seem more cartoonish, and hence more tolerable? Or is it just as intense as the violence found in games striving for a more realistic look and feel?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love fun without guns, gore
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.