Borderlands 2 Review

With the lead-up to Christmas, the video games market has started to put out their big releases leading up to the holiday. One of the first to show its face is Gearbox Software’s Borderlands 2, a sequel to the 2009 first person shooter Borderlands.

There ain’t no rest for the wicked in the world of Borderlands, and money don’t grow on trees. The sequel follows up from the story of the first Borderlands game five years later, after the characters from the original game opened a “Vault” in the search for riches, but found a monster instead. It is revealed that they were tricked into doing this by a “Guardian Angel” who worked under a man named Handsome Jack, who reveals his (masked) face as the antagonist for the sequel.

Borderlands 2 sees the player playing as one of four new Vault Hunters, characters whose story runs alongside catching up with the original four Vault Hunters from the first game as they try to find a way to stop Handsome Jack and his rise to power after the events of the first Borderlands.

There are four different characters to choose from: Axton the Commando – A soldier that can throw an automated turret down for supporting fire, Maya the Siren – A character who can phaselock enemies, lifting them in the air and holding them there with her powers, Zer0 the Assassin – A ninja whose special ability is to create a decoy of himself while he turns invisible, creating options to evade and strike, and finally Salvador the Gunzerker – A Great Wall of firepower, able to duel wield any gun for double the mayhem.

The game very much allows for different sorts of gameplay. Each of the four characters plays differently, and the way you build up their skills expands the way you can play each individual character further. Borderlands 2 builds on the idea of giving people a multitude of options to the extent of which one can’t find in many other first person shooters. There’s an approach for any sort of gameplay the player wishes, which makes for a nice and refreshing experience.

On top of the range of character builds one can have, there’s also the element of the guns, something Borderlands puts at the forefront of their sales pitch. The possibilities are endless with the guns, and the guns are never in short supply. From pistols to rocket launchers, there are guns for every occasion.

That’s even, without mentioning all the different stats each gun has, designs, crosshairs, added elemental effects, special properties like a shotgun that shoots fire and even unique guns such as a gun that guilt-trips you for killing people and one that encourages it.

It is a kind of scope that very few first person shooters can match. Borderlands 2 is certainly unique on the wide range of characters, skills and weaponry, somehow expanding on the immensely diverse first Borderlands.

Borderlands 2 certainly takes the idea of a sequel being bigger and better and runs with it. Everything has been rebuilt to create a more accessible and fun experience. The enemy AI is actually more intelligent than just running at you, there are more things you need to do to in missions other than just “Kill everything” and the locations are more diverse and engaging than the dusty wasteland that covered the majority of the first Borderlands game. Borderlands 2 even starts off in a snow-covered location, instantly showing to the player that this game has a lot more over its predecessor.

The game is very much built on co-op play and it certainly makes for a fun experience. The difficulty ramps up with more players and there’s a mad dash for ammo and new weapons, but there is nothing more satisfying than working as a team to help each other survive and take down waves of enemies. Borderlands 2 offers many options for co-op play, including four player online co-op with friends and/or strangers as well as two-player local split-screen for console versions.

That is not to say that one can’t play the entire game solo, for it is a lot more manageable and fun to play on your own than the first was, offering a bit more leniency and ease over the potential deadly scenarios of Borderlands.

But what really takes the cake for Borderlands 2 isn’t the extended customisation or the new ways to play or the expansive setting or gameplay aspects, but the story and incidental dialogue.

It is very satisfying to have such a deep and entertaining story in a first person shooter. While most are usually military scenarios where you have to do from A to B to C and just kill, Borderlands 2 works well to build on the lore of the location the game is set, constantly while in a haze of dark comedy.

The lead writer on the game, Anthony Burch, writes a masterful plot, showing his postmodern influences every chance he can get to create an engaging tale that builds on the original and completely running with it throughout the sequel. One big problem with the first was that a lot of the story was done through just text, while Borderlands 2 brilliantly uses voice acting for almost every situation.

It is safe to say that Borderlands 2 is one of the funniest video games of recent years. The cast of characters, the things they say and even the names of some of the mission objectives show off the comedic flair and fun the game possesses. While the story can have its dark Whedonesque moments, you are never too far from a cultural reference you weren’t expecting or a silly but hilarious line of dialogue.

Not to mention that the antagonist is one of the most gleefully entertaining villains in the form of Handsome Jack. Always playing the hero, Jack never relents on mocking you while showing off his Joker-like insanity. Certainly one of the most memorable and interesting video game antagonists of recent years as well.

Overall there’s almost nothing to complain about with Borderlands 2. Sometimes the textures load a bit slowly, but that can be expected with a large game such as this. There are also times where incidental dialogue loops but that is also to be expected if you’re playing for as long as you probably will with a game that just gives so many options. Other than that though, Borderlands 2 is one of the most memorable, unique, hilarious and entertaining first person shooter experiences you can have. It has some of the most solid gameplay, the possibilities are endless, it builds so much onto an already brilliant first game and it gives you a story and characters in an FPS you can actually care for.

You’ll be grinning from ear to ear from the moment you watch the opening cut-scene and you’ll be hard-pressed to pull away from it until you’ve beaten it. A seriously good game you need to check out.

Also there’s an entire quest where every line of dialogue is taken from Top Gun. Just saying.

Borderlands 2 is available for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. The version reviewed was the version for the Xbox 360.

Copyright © 2012 MCM BUZZ – Movies, TV, Comics, Gaming, Anime, Cosplay News & Reviews