Back when we saw Borderlands in December 2007, the sci-fi open world shooter looked gritty and rugged. Word has it that the game now looks cartoony.
The game was originally slated for a holiday 2008 release, but was pushed back to this year. Last holiday, a Borderlands tester twittered about the game, writing, "...Borderlands, still a year out from release. not bad, but needs some work. reminds me of Crackdown a little." That tester was promptly fired.
Hrm — that test could have meant that the game is like Crackdown in that players can level up their characters. Or maybe, it's like Crackdown in that the game now uses cel-shading. Cel-shade animation makes rendering appear hand drawn (see reference photo). Apparently, in an upcoming issue of PC Gamer, Borderlands developer talks about how the game. A supposedly leaked page of the article shows the new comic book look with the caption: "Looks like a panel from a comic book. It's, in fact, a screenshot."
In a post on the Gearbox forums, community manager Ennui writes, "We do care about all our fans, no doubt, and the decision to alter the art style was assuredly not one taken or made lightly... Though there's always the chance some people could be turned off by the style, it was decided that, overall, it fits the game and creates a more visually interesting experience."
Gearbox adds that this new look retains detail and style that's usually lost during the move from concept art to 3D. ""The entire world has life to it, from the creatures to the very rocks and dirty walls," Ennui continues. "The game world is no less gritty, dirty, or harsh — all of the detail is there, and the environments have even more atmosphere. We solicited feedback from our focus testing initiative, which consists entirely of a very large pool of gamers from all walks of life, and in the end, the choice was clear for us."