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Gearbox and 2K have teamed up yet again create an animated action fest that is filled with colorful characters, humor, and plenty of action.  If you thought it was a new entry into the popular Borderlands you would be mistaken although at first glance some might take the similar use of brilliantly cell shaded graphics to be part of the series.  That however is where the majority of the similarities end as Battleborn is one of the most frantic and enjoyable action games to come along in a while.  I first played the game at E3 last year and was instantly impressed with what I had just played.  Subsequent games at PAX Prime and in the early access portion of the game only increased my enjoyment and anticipation for the final product.

The game involves an evil force that has been destroying all the stars in the universe.  A team of misfits who specialize in all types of combat known as the “Battleborn” take up the call to save the universe.  Accompanying them is a ship captain, and unstable scientist, and is even more unstable A.I, unit who pop up during the campaign with all sorts of humorous commentary to help propel the story along.

The campaign missions for the game are not linear in that players opting to take part of the five player co-op campaigns select which mission they will undertake and at times waiting for a mission that you have not already played does require a bit of patience or for players to leave the party and try again in the matchmaking screen.

Gameplay is of a first-person perspective but in the unique style that players are free to select from 25 playable characters, many of whom unlock as the campaign mode unfolds.  There are male, female, and alien characters as well as some other more unique individuals for players to select from.  As they go on, players will be able to customize power ups and abilities for players as well as various aspects of their appearance.  In the game action, players will have the opportunity to reach 10 different skill levels and each opportunity a new skill or ability that can be deployed during the game and will regenerate itself on a timer after being used.

The key aspect of the game is the variety of the characters as you can go from a slow-moving but massive chain gun wielding character to a clone soldier, a cybernetic butler, a fiendish imp, and so many more. The characters have everything from close quarter and distanced combat abilities and many have support functions as well.  This is one of the greatest aspects of the game but also for many one of the biggest tricks in that you have to select a player that best suits your style of play but you are not able to fully comprehend what a character is and is not capable of until you try them in action.  Unfortunately once a character is selected, you are required to play them through completion of the mission and do not have the opportunity to change in the middle of a match.  I found out the hard way that a selected character did not have much in the way of offensive abilities and therefore had to spend the majority of my match hanging in the background mopping up and offering support whenever needed.  This is quite a change from my usual approach of going in the thick of the action and cutting down as many of the enemy forces as I could.

The maps are very clever and creative and have all sorts of things ranging from jump ads which control you will cross the locale, to weapon emplacements were using credits earned from collecting energy shards, players can power up traps and defensive weaponry which will help them with the endless waves of enemies they will encounter.

While there only two main species of enemies, there are plenty of variations amongst them but after a few missions you will have felt that you have seen them all.  This is where the clever boss battles come into play and really make the game shine.  Players can revive one another should they fall in battle, and also take advantage of various power ups located throughout the map.  The missions can take a bit of patience because there is nothing more frustrating than enduring wave after wave of enemies 30 min. into a match and failing a mission because a key locale was left unprotected when a player succumbed to a swarm of enemies while the rest of the team was off defending against a multi-pronged attack.

The developers have promised more characters would be included in future updates and there is also DLC coming that will add new options for players to enjoy.

The game also boasts several multiplayer modes where players can take a break from the campaign and enjoy numerous matches that are more in line with what players might come to expect from a multiplayer experience.  There certainly will not be any shortage of options for players as some players will up to play through the campaign with as many different characters as possible, and others like myself will stick to a tried-and-true character and occasionally dabble with one of the others.

The game looks and sounds fantastic and the action as I mentioned is fun, intense, and frequent.  I hope that we see plenty of additional Battleborn titles and content in the future as I continue to enjoy the game with its quirky and enjoyable characters and enjoyable premise and gameplay.  This is definitely been one of the more enjoyable gaming experiences for me this year and I definitely think it is a game not be missed for fans of this genre.

4.5 stars out of 5

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