Recently Played: Borderlands 2

Posted by Sarumarine (2054 posts) -

Around the time I was putting together the 2012 Sarumarine Awards, I was playing Borderlands 2 along with two other friends. Having beaten the game once and the DLC in the form of Captain Scarlett and Mr. Torgue's respective adventures, I wanted to write some stuff down about it. Mostly because it falls in a really weird spot where the game is solid and fairly entertaining... but I found it lacking that certain something.

At the risk of sounding reductive or down on Borderlands 2... it really is just more Borderlands. And that's not terrible or anything. Maybe it would be more accurate if I said it fits in a spot where there's no rush to go out and play it, but if you get the opportunity you should have a good time.

Borderlands 2 (People Talking at You During Gunfights: The Game)

The biggest thing in Borderlands 2 that sticks out in my mind is the amount of dialogue I miss because the characters have a insatiable need to talk during huge gunfights. Between switching weapons, using action skills, dodging bullets, and generally trying to stay alive or keep my friends alive, I feel like I miss 70% of the material written for the various sociopaths and psychopaths of Pandora. Especially Handsome Jack who never shuts up. Now, you could build a case that it really doesn't matter since Borderlands 2 has that MMO quality where all you have to do is run to the objective marker to complete missions so who gives a damn about the who or why... but I care about stuff like that. I like characters. And story, even if it's flimsy. As long as someone goes to the trouble of trying to give a narrative reason for tracking down loose change or someone's pet, I will be there to take it in.

Unfortunately it feels like they don't even care about this stuff. This is especially bad when they place ECHO recorders one foot away from spots that trigger story dialogue. There's area in the Wildlife Exploitation Preserve where an ECHO recorder for a side mission is immediately cut off by Handsome Jack when you pass through a nearby door, like they expected you wouldn't try to pick up everything that wasn't nailed down on your first time through an area. I find it really frustrating.

And I know, why am I stressing story and dialogue in a game like Borderlands? Well, mostly because there's nothing to talk about gameplay wise. It plays like Borderlands with a few flourishes. It's a quirky first person shooter where you pick up weird guns to shoot even weirder creatures. Especially since the narrative is just about the biggest difference from the first game. Gearbox went through the trouble of putting together a real nemesis to direct your impressive arsenal at for the majority of the game. There are actually plot points and stuff happens.

The Man Who Would Be Jack (and did someone say EXPLOSIONS!?)

Handsome Jack loves to chat

Not to reopen wounds or pour salt on sensitive areas left from the Giant Bomb 2012 GOTY, I saw a lot of people confused (or incensed) why Handsome Jack didn't make any character awards or even get a runner up. I could probably guess why at the risk of making people angry, but Jack runs real hot and cold. He talks a lot. Oh god does Jack love to talk. Which works perfectly for his role as an egotistical CEO that values looks over everything and loves to shoot people in the face for fun. But not all of his dialogue works. He's got a few really good lines in the form of a violin joke after the plot point at the W.E.P. and some great exclamations about trashing his statues in Opportunity. The rest of it however, not so much

Then there's the plot point in the middle of the game or so where he suddenly wants you to take him seriously. Which, personally, is my real problem with Jack. He's such a goofy over the top villain with so many petty insults and blatantly evil plots that the death of one person making him turn serious is... hard to take seriously. Jack stops being fun at this point. Especially since Borderlands 2 doesn't do serious well. Once you have characters like Tiny Tina and Face McShooty running around, there's no room for tearjerkers or introspection. Your sniper rifle is talking at you trying to make you feel like garbage while you throw your submachine gun at psychos to reload. Also, bonerfarts. Granted that joke only lasted like five seconds, but still.

Also, nearly all of Jack's material is done over a radio where you never see his body language or his model animate. It hurts his presence in more ways than one. Especially since that one trailer with Handsome Jack setting up the player characters has him doing all sorts of stuff like strutting and winking. It would have been awesome to see him try to play a violin. That's all I'm saying.

EXPLOOOOSSSSSIIOOONNNNSS!!! BUY TORGUE!

"NOTHING IS MORE BADASS THAN TREATING A WOMAN WITH RESPECT!"

At the same time, Borderlands 2 has one of my favorite characters ever in the form of the enthusiastic and dangerously genre savvy Mr. Torgue. His Campaign of Carnage DLC really doesn't do anything different in the grand scheme of things. It's Borderlands, dawg. You're going to shoot dudes, shoot things, pick up stuff, and turn in quests. Sometimes the things you shoot are much bigger than you. But the real highlight is pretty much every single thing Mr. Torgue says as he gets hyped about EXPLOSIONS, battles to the death, the dangers of alcoholism, betrayal, treating women nice, and everything else that comes out of his mouth. Especially things that are badass. He has no indoor voice, but it really helps sell some of his greatest lines and makes it really easy to hear him over all the gunshots.

This man is an entertainer and he certainly knows how to entertain in his own special way. I have a hard time figuring out how any future DLC release for Borderlands 2 is going to top Mr. Torgue.

Still Fun Though

Borderlands 2 may not stray far enough from the first game to really stand out, but it's still fun. I find that all of the character classes are pretty cool, even the Commando who is dangerously generic compared to the others. The guns and their various manufacturers are still cool to look at and scrutinize. I tend to go Maliwan and Torgue a bunch, but there are some cool Jakobs spiniguns and that bolt action elephant gun is tons o' fun. I think the backlash against internet jokes and referencing memes are a little too scrutinized. Borderlands was never exactly a super classy game to start with, and humor is so hard to pull off that it's only natural you'd find some really lame or uninspired attempts here or there.

Of course, only you can decide where to draw the line.

#1 Posted by Sarumarine (2054 posts) -

Around the time I was putting together the 2012 Sarumarine Awards, I was playing Borderlands 2 along with two other friends. Having beaten the game once and the DLC in the form of Captain Scarlett and Mr. Torgue's respective adventures, I wanted to write some stuff down about it. Mostly because it falls in a really weird spot where the game is solid and fairly entertaining... but I found it lacking that certain something.

At the risk of sounding reductive or down on Borderlands 2... it really is just more Borderlands. And that's not terrible or anything. Maybe it would be more accurate if I said it fits in a spot where there's no rush to go out and play it, but if you get the opportunity you should have a good time.

Borderlands 2 (People Talking at You During Gunfights: The Game)

The biggest thing in Borderlands 2 that sticks out in my mind is the amount of dialogue I miss because the characters have a insatiable need to talk during huge gunfights. Between switching weapons, using action skills, dodging bullets, and generally trying to stay alive or keep my friends alive, I feel like I miss 70% of the material written for the various sociopaths and psychopaths of Pandora. Especially Handsome Jack who never shuts up. Now, you could build a case that it really doesn't matter since Borderlands 2 has that MMO quality where all you have to do is run to the objective marker to complete missions so who gives a damn about the who or why... but I care about stuff like that. I like characters. And story, even if it's flimsy. As long as someone goes to the trouble of trying to give a narrative reason for tracking down loose change or someone's pet, I will be there to take it in.

Unfortunately it feels like they don't even care about this stuff. This is especially bad when they place ECHO recorders one foot away from spots that trigger story dialogue. There's area in the Wildlife Exploitation Preserve where an ECHO recorder for a side mission is immediately cut off by Handsome Jack when you pass through a nearby door, like they expected you wouldn't try to pick up everything that wasn't nailed down on your first time through an area. I find it really frustrating.

And I know, why am I stressing story and dialogue in a game like Borderlands? Well, mostly because there's nothing to talk about gameplay wise. It plays like Borderlands with a few flourishes. It's a quirky first person shooter where you pick up weird guns to shoot even weirder creatures. Especially since the narrative is just about the biggest difference from the first game. Gearbox went through the trouble of putting together a real nemesis to direct your impressive arsenal at for the majority of the game. There are actually plot points and stuff happens.

The Man Who Would Be Jack (and did someone say EXPLOSIONS!?)

Handsome Jack loves to chat

Not to reopen wounds or pour salt on sensitive areas left from the Giant Bomb 2012 GOTY, I saw a lot of people confused (or incensed) why Handsome Jack didn't make any character awards or even get a runner up. I could probably guess why at the risk of making people angry, but Jack runs real hot and cold. He talks a lot. Oh god does Jack love to talk. Which works perfectly for his role as an egotistical CEO that values looks over everything and loves to shoot people in the face for fun. But not all of his dialogue works. He's got a few really good lines in the form of a violin joke after the plot point at the W.E.P. and some great exclamations about trashing his statues in Opportunity. The rest of it however, not so much

Then there's the plot point in the middle of the game or so where he suddenly wants you to take him seriously. Which, personally, is my real problem with Jack. He's such a goofy over the top villain with so many petty insults and blatantly evil plots that the death of one person making him turn serious is... hard to take seriously. Jack stops being fun at this point. Especially since Borderlands 2 doesn't do serious well. Once you have characters like Tiny Tina and Face McShooty running around, there's no room for tearjerkers or introspection. Your sniper rifle is talking at you trying to make you feel like garbage while you throw your submachine gun at psychos to reload. Also, bonerfarts. Granted that joke only lasted like five seconds, but still.

Also, nearly all of Jack's material is done over a radio where you never see his body language or his model animate. It hurts his presence in more ways than one. Especially since that one trailer with Handsome Jack setting up the player characters has him doing all sorts of stuff like strutting and winking. It would have been awesome to see him try to play a violin. That's all I'm saying.

EXPLOOOOSSSSSIIOOONNNNSS!!! BUY TORGUE!

"NOTHING IS MORE BADASS THAN TREATING A WOMAN WITH RESPECT!"

At the same time, Borderlands 2 has one of my favorite characters ever in the form of the enthusiastic and dangerously genre savvy Mr. Torgue. His Campaign of Carnage DLC really doesn't do anything different in the grand scheme of things. It's Borderlands, dawg. You're going to shoot dudes, shoot things, pick up stuff, and turn in quests. Sometimes the things you shoot are much bigger than you. But the real highlight is pretty much every single thing Mr. Torgue says as he gets hyped about EXPLOSIONS, battles to the death, the dangers of alcoholism, betrayal, treating women nice, and everything else that comes out of his mouth. Especially things that are badass. He has no indoor voice, but it really helps sell some of his greatest lines and makes it really easy to hear him over all the gunshots.

This man is an entertainer and he certainly knows how to entertain in his own special way. I have a hard time figuring out how any future DLC release for Borderlands 2 is going to top Mr. Torgue.

Still Fun Though

Borderlands 2 may not stray far enough from the first game to really stand out, but it's still fun. I find that all of the character classes are pretty cool, even the Commando who is dangerously generic compared to the others. The guns and their various manufacturers are still cool to look at and scrutinize. I tend to go Maliwan and Torgue a bunch, but there are some cool Jakobs spiniguns and that bolt action elephant gun is tons o' fun. I think the backlash against internet jokes and referencing memes are a little too scrutinized. Borderlands was never exactly a super classy game to start with, and humor is so hard to pull off that it's only natural you'd find some really lame or uninspired attempts here or there.

Of course, only you can decide where to draw the line.

#2 Posted by The_Laughing_Man (13629 posts) -

Pretty sure the guys also said Borderlands 2 is more Borderlands. And that is why I got the game. I loved the first and enjoyed the second.

#3 Posted by PerfidiousSinn (715 posts) -

You are dead on when it comes to Handsome Jack's character. Near the end of the game it is nearly impossible to take him seriously when he "gets serious" or ANY of the dramatic turns seriously when most of the game is so goofy. The last act of the game falls flat dramatically.

I also ran into the issue of "ECHO pickups getting cut off by mission dialog" too many times. It seems like something they can fix easily by having a "Files" option in the menu where you could re-listen to the recorders you picked up. Or just let the recording play out before mission dialog starts? Guess they didn't think of it. So eventually you just train yourself to STAND STILL whenever picking up these things and that runs counter to the fun parts of the game where you are shooting things.

I liked Borderlands 2 enough to play through it twice, so I'm not trying to come across as overly negative here. I'm being critical because it could have been even better.

#4 Posted by TaliciaDragonsong (8698 posts) -

I'm glad Jack turned more serious halfway through. He's slowly noticing your advance on his empire, you're not being stopped and you even hit him where it hurts. He's still a dick, see some of the quests in the blight zone, but he's kind of tripping the fuck out and going a bit mental (truly mental, not fun mental). I thought that was really well played out because lets face it, he couldn't stay how he started or he'd have no character progression. Borderlands 2 is a long game, and while I love Jack's constant insults it will eventually be pointless if he didn't somehow be affected by what we do. He's cocky and all too full of himself but he isn't stupid to just keep making jokes till-oh hey Vault Hunters on his doorstep.
 
He ain't perfect, but he's one of the most fun bad guys I ever fought against.

#5 Edited by GunstarRed (4728 posts) -

How could you mention Mr Torgue without talking about his awesome guitar solos?

#6 Posted by musclerider (564 posts) -

Torque is the best. He's over the top in just the dumbest way possible and I can't help but love it.

I just came back to the game after a long while and wowza y'all. That ECHO stuff is no joke. I missed huge amounts of dialogue in the DLC because of walking across arbitrary barriers or respawning and hearing the New-U-Station make one of its terrible quips.

#7 Edited by CptBedlam (4438 posts) -

I played the first two hours of the game a few days ago at a friend's house and I was a little surprised by how much I disliked the starting area of the game. I loved that junk city at the beginning of Borderlands 1. Compared to that place, that ice level severely lacks character and atmosphere. From what I've seen of BL2, the game in general lacks the unique Western flair of the first game and the environments feel way more generic instead. I'll probably still dip into it at some point.

And yeah, I didn't care for most of the dialogue either. It felt like they tried too hard with the humor and crammed too much of it into the game. So far I prefer BL1's vibe.

#8 Posted by Slag (3334 posts) -

Eh I like the incessant talking.

The game would be duller without it.

and Handsome Jack, I dunno seemed like a natural progression to me for bad guy trash talking. I'm not sure why people weren't able to take him seriously, his degradation seemed pretty authentic how an over-privileged but competent douche bag would fall apart as his world gets undone.

There was a late game reveal I didn't expect which I still don't know how to feel about, I suppose I ought to go finish the final levels soon which might change my opinion. I hated Handsome Jack a ton, which in my book meant they did a good job portraying him.

I do agree the ECHO things, especially since you can't re-listen to them is a pretty big annoyance.

#9 Posted by Slither_Maggot (220 posts) -

Yeah I'm not a fan of the fact that (at least not that I could find) there's no way to re-listen to ECHO recordings like in the first game so sometimes when you get cutoff like 1/4-1/2 way through one by something else going on you're left going, "Wait... what?! WHAT THE HELL WAS ON THE ECHO?!"

#10 Posted by pweidman (2215 posts) -

Borderlands 2 is really good and better than the first game in almost every way, and the story and plot, with Jack specifically, is just one example.

Foremost for me though, on the more important gameplay front, are the skill trees of all five characters that have options that are significant for co-op play and allow the characters to work together really well. When you take on some of the raid bosses it becomes especially apparent.

Borderlands had some of this stuff too, class mods come to mind, but BL2 does it better with much better skills and tree choices, and the characters and their special abilities are more fun.

And unlike you TC, my only reservation with BL2 is the DLC. Specifically the Torgue DLC. It's small, simple, and boring. Whether you like the giantly bombastic Torgue is besides the point. The areas and quests are just not up to par. Mostly imo, because Gearbox is not making this stuff. TBH though I'll play anything they put out because the loot and character progression is so good, as well as any and all co-op play with friends that it all affords.

#11 Posted by benspyda (1891 posts) -

Borderlands 2 is great for just chilling and listening to podcasts after the first playthrough, like it's predecessor. I did enjoy Borderlands 1 more, but I still really enjoyed Borderlands 2.

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