Borderlands 2 is a space western first person action rpg shooter. Borderlands 2 was developed by Gearbox Software and published by 2k Games. Borderlands 2 is the sequel to 2009’s smash hit Borderlands. Does Borderlands 2 fix the issues with the story of the first game while refining the mechanics?
The biggest improvement in Borderlands 2 is the new improved story. This is in part thanks to Gearbox hiring a full time writer Anthony Burch of “Hey Ash What You Playing” fame. The story of Borderlands 2 takes place five years after the events of the first game. You play as four new vault hunters on a quest to stop a new villain, Handsome Jack, from opening the Vault. Unlike the first game the story is not convoluted and the plot builds up to an actual tangible ending this time around. The star of the show this time around is the hilarious writing which is very self-aware, tongue and cheek, and goofy giving off a vibe similar to shows on Adult Swim. I loved all the pop culture references and Easter eggs found in the game that referenced other games, TV shows, movies, and other internet memes. Also the game actually has a villain this time around who antagonizes you the whole time much like Glados did in Portal. Due to this, Borderlands 2 ends up being the funniest game since Portal 2 and Handsome Jack the best villain since Glados. Handsome Jack not only has plenty of humorous quips that make you laugh out loud but he can get very dark in later segments of the game. These darker segments make you really want to take him out at the end of the game. Once again the four original vault hunters return again and take part as npcs who are an integral part of the main story. You also meet up with other returning favorites as well, including Angel who is involved in some interesting twists that give you more context to some of your actions from the first game. The best part of Borderlands 2 story is it is there for people who care about story and gets out of the way for players who just want to enjoy the action. Borderlands 2 does this best by providing most of your quests and story through radio broadcasts that deliver clever dialogue while actually playing the game. Nice additions include the ability to walk away from NPCs who are giving you quests and have them continue their dialogue over the radio. Smart decisions like this allow Borderlands 2’s story to be enjoyable whether you are playing it once or multiple times.
If you have a PC that can run Borderlands 2 you are in for a treat with the superb graphics for the PC version. This time around Gearbox simply did not make a PC port they really went out to the make the PC version the definitive version of the game. The game can run at 60 FPS at 1080p and looks amazing doing so. There are tons of PC centric options like HUD sliders and Field of View. Also the new UI works perfectly with a keyboard and mouse. Gearbox also worked with Nvidia to introduce this new draw dropping GPU PhysX technology. Borderlands 2 is no slouch on the consoles but much like the PC when the action gets going and there are tons of animations going on the screen, the frame rate can take huge drops. Unlike the first game, you visit a lot more interesting and varied environments. Areas include the arctic tundras of Windshear Waste, the deserts of Lynchwood, mining tunnels of the Caustic Caverns, and the tropical jungles of the Wildlife Exploitation Preserve. Overall whether you get it for PC or Console the cell shaded art style and beautiful environments provide a visual unlike any other Unreal shooter on the market.
The gameplay of Borderlands 2 is very similar to its predecessor. The game has the additive loot components of a game like Diablo mixed with the fast action packed controls and feel of a Call of Duty game. These elements alone make Borderlands 2 one of the most interesting and additive formulas to hit this generation. The great thing Borderlands 2 is that the game makes a lot of iterative changes to improve on this already winning formula. Like the first game, the object in Borderlands is to kill enemies and loot their corpse for the millions of guns found within the world of Pandora. This time around though, there aren’t just tons of guns but many different variations on guns based on manufacturer. You have guns that when every time you reload you throw them and they explode, pistols that fire wild west style, and even guns that are cursed that give you different properties like walking slower and screaming like a bandit when you pull the trigger. Also returning are the different types of elemental weapons such as electricity, fire, explosive, corrosive and a new one called slag which covers your enemies with this purple liquid that makes enemies take additional damage. Much like a traditional rpg, these elements have their strengths and weaknesses when used on enemies of varying types. The great thing is that even some of these enemies have elemental variations themselves. The amount of variety in weapon types and all the different elemental types is what keeps you coming back to Borderlands 2 for more. Besides the improved weapons, the game features much needed improved AI which can now flank, take cover, and move around rather than just stand still. There is a lot more variety in the types of enemies you fight and I never felt like I saw the same enemy one too many times. Even when you see similar types of the same enemy there are these new harder badass enemies which happen when some enemies are near their death. These badass enemies often level up with the player and take on a new form. If you are a fan of the original game you will not only appreciate these bigger changes but some of the smaller changes as well. Some of these smaller changes include the ability to automatically pick up ammo, health, and cash as well as move around when you are down. Not to mention character customization takes on a bigger role and the ability to respect you skill points can be added as much needed additions from the original game. Speaking of skills Borderlands 2 features four new vault hunters with 4 all new skills. The Gunzerker can duel wield any weapon, The Siren can levitate enemies in the air, the Assassin can cloak and create diversions of himself, and the Commando throws down a turret that can shoot rockets and create a bubble shield. These skills are great when playing individually but really shine when the game is played cooperatively with 2-4 other players. Unfortunately Borderlands 2 is not without its own issues. The biggest issue I felt in the game was that when you entered a co-op game, all loot that is found is shared between players. To expect gamers to follow the honor system when trying to obtain more powerful weapons in a loot driven game in ludicrous. This especially holds true when you have two loot games that game out this year, Diablo 3 and Torchlight 2, that implemented systems where you only see your own loot during a multiplayer game. Not to mention, this would not be a true open world game without bugs and Borderlands 2 is no exception to that rule. There are issues with the game not saving on critical points, dying while fast traveling or loading a new area, and characters and loot falling through the ground. I also could not follow the mini map to save my life and this map could really use a GPS that sets a waypoint similar to the ones in GTA4 or Sleeping Dogs. Balance issues are also present depending on what level you party is and the amount of side content that is completed. The ability to scale your level when entering sections with lower level enemies would have also been a nice feature as this is a system that was successfully managed in Guild Wars 2. Lastly, the ability to fast travel from your menu would make the times where you need to back track to complete a mission less redundant and cumbersome. In conclusion, none of these issues are game breaking but I would love to see them addressed in the next iteration of the game.
Borderlands 2 is jam packed with content and features. You would be hard pressed to spend your money elsewhere is you are fan of this type of game. Besides the four player co-op online, the game features 2 player split screen for consoles. The UI issues with the split screen have been resolved from the first game and you can clearly see your inventory and gun statistics without a problem. Also the game now supports Steamworks for the PC so you do need to worry about pulling out that old Gamespy account to play online. The campaign will run you about 20 hours to complete and the game is jam packed with over 30 hours of side content. There is also a new game plus mode where you get higher level enemies when you complete the game and you can level up to 50. With four classes to level up and a fifth one on the way, Borderlands 2 will be the game you will be playing for years.
In conclusion, if you liked Borderlands you will most likely like Borderlands 2. The smart gameplay additions and the new improved story are enough to make this game a must play for rpg and shooter fans alike. I could definitely see not recommending this game if you are not a fan of the loot gameplay loop or the Adult Swim based humor. Otherwise, we are likely to see Borderlands 2 as a contender for many players game of year.
Buy: If you like the addictive nature of loot games like Diablo with the action of an fps like Call of Duty.