Exploring Borderlands' Pandora

EDGE is offering a two-pages feature article on Pandora, the setting of Borderlands and its sequel, arguing that it offers "videogame tourism at its most charismatic". Here's a snippet:
Early promotional videos make the point rather brutally: Gearbox may have conceived Borderlands with the same concepts, characters, and bestiary, but without its cross-hatched mountains, graphic-novel colour scheme and scribble-pocked metalwork, it might as well have headed to the shops wearing camouflage. The freedom to add actual pen strokes to rocks and cliff faces may not seem like a particularly meaningful or promising shift in visual design, but with it, presumably, came the freedom to accentuate little details, such as the villainous Sledge's Viking-horned welding mask. With it came the freedom to shake the boring deadwood out of the game's skill trees, and to broaden the shoulders of Brick, the tank class, before squashing his head down into his gigantic neck. It provided the freedom, in other words, to acknowledge that a game didn't have to be totally serious about its storyline and sense of place in order to be serious about its blasting.

And yet, if Borderlands isn't exactly serious, it can be uncommonly believable at times. Locations like Piss Wash Gully or The Middle of Nowhere really sound like they were named by bored, dispirited off-worlders. NPCs live in tents and lean-tos that seem convincingly cluttered and untidy even if there is always ammo or cash in the toilet bowl. Bandit camp walls are cobbled together from freight containers, and the tired old coach that brings players into the adventure proves a far more convincing entry vehicle than a whole fleet of Killzone 2 landing craft. There aren't a lot of shooters that insist on bussing you in: with Borderlands, it's entirely fitting.