Borderlands 2 review.

I occassionally enjoy writing about games as a creative outlet. Here are my thoughts on Borderlands 2.

Borderlands 2 is not a game I expected to spend much time with. The first Borderlands was interesting for a few hours but quickly devolved into nothing more than an MMO style grind. The quests, characters, and story never became interesting to me. I am able to perceive that it would have been a good time in a co-op setting but I was never in position to play it that way. Instead of using story to propel you forward it relied heavily on its loot mechanic to keep your interest.

I find myself less and less interested in games that use loot as the primary force to compel you forward and the sequel is not much different in this case. Borderlands 2 is not a short game, and too much time is spent in menus comparing weapons and equipment. The game does an adequate job at providing you with information about each weapon but it is often not completely obvious which weapon is superior. This can lead to interesting decision making opportunities, but the loot comes so frequently here that it can be tiresome. Add to that the rock-paper-scissors implementation of elemental damage and inventory management becomes a burden.

Story is one area that the game is much improved. This is mostly achieved through the use of ever present antagonist Handsome Jack. Jack is smarmy asshole incumbent, it’s a one note character but his motives are clear. He is evil, and he is easy to dislike. Simple. The presence of the vault hunters from the first game as fully fleshed out characters works well, though it seems a bit strange. These guys did not have much to say in the first game, but are awfully chatty this time around.

There is a large emphasis on humor in the game which impact you depending on your own sense of humor. Most of it is referential to pop culture, specifically the modern internet culture. If the idea of Top Gun, arrow to the knee, and dubstep jokes are the kind of thing you enjoy there is plenty for you to digest. For me the humor falls flat more often than it succeeds. I don’t find this to be much of an issue though. I know that comedy is hard to write and this is a long game. At the very least the humor gives the game a personality, one the I thought the first hinted at but ultimately lacked.

The games biggest strength is the feel of the shooting mechanics. There is a certain satisfaction to the cartoon violence the game displays. Heads pop in just the right way, robots can be dismembered, and each gun let’s you go about it in slightly different ways. The game didn’t completely click for me until I found a shotgun that was powerful, highly accurate and did bonus critical damage. Finding just the right gun for your play style goes a long way. The gameplay is largely based around finding and shooting the enemy in it’s weak spots. The enemy AI is poor but there is a nice variety of enemy types, most with their own behavior. This variety is essential in a game of such length.

Borderlands 2 is not a great game but can be a lot of fun. There is plenty to dislike here. The impact of the humor will vary from person to person and the gameplay is repetitive. The loot system can be a real hassle. At the end though a shooter is about shooting things and whether it is fun to do so. The game achieves this, and after 20 hours with the game I still feel compelled to jump back into the world of Pandora, pick up some new quests, and shoot things in the face.

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