Speaking of bad guys, Borderlands also stands out not so much for its diversity of enemies as the hilarious ways they act and react. Be prepared for the likes of pint-sized Midget Shotgunners knocking themselves flat on their asses because they can't handle the recoil on the shotguns they wield. (But don't underestimate them. They'll tear you a new one if your character isn't levelled up enough.)
You'll also make the acquaintance of various types of so-called Psychos who, being a couple french fries short of a happy meal, will come rushing at you wielding axes while laughing maniacally and threatening, "Ha ha!.. More meat for me!"
Okay but wait... That's too simple—
Let's also teach everyone the definition of video game panic by having these Psychos flip into Kamikaze mode just before they die and rush you again while holding burning sticks of dynamite. Kill the Pyschos while standing too close and they drop dynamite and you go kaboom. Don't kill the Psychos and, well, they run up to you and go kaboom anyway. By the way, zapping these suckers with a shock damaging SMG never seems to grow old. Thank you, Gearbox Software. I now have a new hobby. :o)
And that's just the human enemies.
Borderlands also features an array of, ahem, local fauna that will ferociously attack you when you encroach upon their territorial pissings. Amongst many other monstrosities that crawl, roll, burrow and fly, be prepared to frequently defend yourself against a variety of so-called 'skags', four legged creatures about the size of a dog (or a T-rex depending on the location) which have mouths that open sideways, kinda sorta, and when they're not rushing to maul you, they'll spit venom, fire and other sorts of hellaciousness in your general direction (or may simply try to 'tongue' you to death).
Take my word for it. You're gonna be busy.
Show Off Your Skills
Now, to augment your weaponry and help you deal with the enemy threat, Borderlands features a character development system very similar to Diablo 2 in which you gain experience points (XP) by killing stuff and/or completing missions. Every time you reach a certain predetermined level of XP, your character 'levels up' and acquires one skill point. The skill points can be spent on various skills in a skill tree which is a list of abilities that you acquire and gradually build up. Each character has twenty one possible skills to develop, each of which either makes your weapons more efficient, e.g. improves accuracy or gives you a special power, e.g. shock damage. Much of the addictive fun in Borderlands is developing your character with the skills of your choosing in order to gradually create a powerful character that can efficiently deal with the increasing powerful enemy threats.
Each of the four playable characters in the game also has a special Action Skill which can be used to put an extra beat down on your assailants. For example, the Hunter —which is whom I played as— has a special attack bird called Bloodwing which can be sent out to execute ranged attacks on the enemies. Alright, join the party... The more, the merrier.
However, the catch is that after sending Bloodwing out on an attack run, you have to wait out a 'cooldown' period before he can be sent out again. Now although a little icon in your heads-up display indicates when Bloodwing is ready to go, it took me quite a while to get used to the fact that he was even available. This might also have been due to the fact that Bloodwing would frequently get caught up on obstacles and end up not attacking anyone at all so relying on this feature early in the game was precarious at best. Later in the game though, when I started pouring skill points into Bloodwing's abilities, his speed and power during successful 'runs' made up for his misfires.
One feature about the skill tree in Borderlands I think is absolute genius is the fact that you're granted the option to reassign all the skill points you've earned and applied so far. So if you're not happy with the way your level 36 Hunter turned out and you don't want to waste two weeks of playing time by starting over, you can — for a nominal fee— simply 'respec' your character at any so-called New-U station in the game and reapply your skill points as you please.
And to help you quickly take a look at different builds, Borderlands has an online character skills demo which provides a real time simulation of applying skill points to any of the four characters' skill trees:
Now notwithstanding the fact that it's impossible to fully develop all your character's skills on account of there being a character level cap of 50 and you only start getting skill points from level 5 on, the skill trees do seem a little thin. It's not so much that there's not enough skills to choose from but rather what Gearbox Software actually came up with as far as skills. My first impression of the Hunter's Caliber skill, which when fully developed with five skill points increases sniper rifle damage by a paltry 20% was, "Is that all I get?"