It takes a lot for a first person shooter to get my attention. Anything involving soldiers or space marines gets an automatic pass. Back in 2009 I picked up Borderlands because it didn’t look like your typical first person shooter (cell-shaded graphics, and an RPG approach). It was easily the most pleasant surprise of the year. Now its sequel is out and the question is – can Gearbox strike gold again?
The Story – Borderlands 2 follows the story of four new Vault Hunters as they fight to free Pandora from the clutches of Handsome Jack, the brilliant, charismatic, and utterly despicable CEO of the Hyperion Corporation.
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Developer: Gearbox Software
Platforms: PC, PS3, and Xbox 360
Release Date: 9/18/2012[/toggle_box]
- More Refined – Everything is more refined; Gearbox fleshed out Pandora more in this sequel. The world feels more alive, the graphics have improved, the controls feel more responsive, and the story is actually interesting this time around.
- Classes – There are four different classes (the Mechromancer is a DLC character so I’ll leave her out). There’s the Commando, Siren, Gunzerker, and an Assassin. Each one has a different play style, the Commando can deploy a torrent to help him in combat, the Siren wields psychic powers, the Gunzerker dual wields two guns, and the Assassin can make a hologram of himself and stealth around the battlefield. Most of my playtime was spent with Maya the Siren, but the key is to find the best class for your desired play style.
- Level Up! – You gain experience from completing missions and gunning down all those who oppose you. Once you level up you can pick new skills, gain more health, etc. Certain actions also Matt you ‘Badass Points’. You can spend these points on special perks.
- Co-Op Bliss – You have to play this with a buddy, online co-op is where Borderlands 2 truly shines. The difficulty ramps up when you team up with a friend and the loot drops are more rewarding.
- Loot, Loot, Loot – Speaking of loot – it’s everywhere. There may be too much loot in this game. I constantly had to figure out what was worth taking. There’s nothing more thrilling than killing a tough group of enemies and seeing all the loot scattered around afterwards.
- Got Yourself a Gun – Picking the perfect set of guns can mean the difference between an easy fight and an insanely hard one. If you’re having trouble with a foe odds are you’re using the wrong gun.
- Gunplay – When you start the guns will leave something to be desired. But they start to feel perfect after you get further into the game. Faster reload times; bigger magazine sizes, more damage, and increased accuracy await you as you level up. By the end of the game you feel like a total badass.
- Difficulty Level – Borderlands 2 lacks traditional difficulty levels, but each mission has it’s own level of difficulty depending on your level. You should tackle the ‘Normal’ missions first, once you level up the ‘Tough’ ones usually go to ‘Normal’. It may seem hard at first, but once you start paying attention it becomes a walk in the park… filled with monsters and psychopaths.
- Handsome Jack – I’ve often said a story is only as good as its villain. And Handsome Jack is a lovable asshole; he’s like the video game equivalent of Kanye West. So arrogant and delusional, but so likeable because you don’t really take anything he says seriously.
- More Things to Kill – You are always running into new enemy types. This keeps you on your feet because you have to alter your tactics. Get too comfortable and you may find yourself laying facedown.
- Last Wind –When you die you have a brief chance to come back to life if you can kill an enemy. This saved my hide on multiple occasions. My siren loved to run, gun, and fry everything in her path.
- Sound – Pandora sounds alive, from the roar of wild creatures to the cries of your victims. The sound design is flawless, even your character’s one liners are a joy to listen too “I don’t need ammo anyway!”
- Unnecessary Padding – Some missions felt too long. As soon as you think you’re done you have to find someone or a part to fix a machine. It gets tedious when you just want to move on to the next area.
- Enemy A.I. is Occasionally Spotty – I’ve walked right up to enemies and they haven’t noticed my presence until I started shooting at them. Now on the opposite end of the spectrum sometimes they can see you coming from a mile away.
- Flying Solo – Play this with friends if you can. Playing solo works fine, but at times it feels like something (or someone) is missing.
- Vehicle Controls – Sigh, vehicles rarely mesh well into the fabric of a first person shooter. The controls had a steep learning curve and they never felt quite right.
- Texture Pop-Up – I noticed pop-up every time I respawned (Xbox 360 version), it only last for a few seconds, but it’s annoying. This problem was in the original and it’s disappointing that Gearbox didn’t fix this.
Borderlands 2 has a few issues, but they’re minor and don’t take much away from the game. I’ve barely scratched the surface folks; if you enjoy deep experiences and fine tuning stats this is the game for you. It’s one of the best releases of 2012 and you don’t have to be a hardcore FPS fan to enjoy it. The RPG elements, colorful graphics, humor, high replay value, co-op, and abundance of loot will have you hooked.
[box_light]We believe that the score is the least important part of a review. It’s tough trying to assign a numerical value to an experience. Furthermore, is there really a difference between a 7.5 and an 8? Gamers place too much importance on arbitrary numbers. This is why our scores are hidden by default. Only look at them if you absolutely need a number between 1-10 to see if a game is worth your time. You can read our review guidelines here. A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.[/box_light]
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Replay Value: 10
9/10 ‘Amazing’ – This is a must have, you’ll see this game on top ten lists at the end of the year.[/toggle_box]