Alright, so after a rather long wait, the world will finally get to play the highly-anticipated sequel to the FPS phenomenon, Borderlands. More often than not, sequels will have changes that sometimes won’t appeal to the general fan base, but as far as Borderlands 2 and Gearbox is concerned, it takes everything enjoyable from the first game and then adds a whole lot of sweet sauce on top. Win? I’d say so.
Did that catch your attention? Good. So I’ll be honest now. Reviewing Borderlands 2 to its fullest extent would take something a long the lines of forever and a half... With all those guns, class potential, maps, quests, and multiplayer appeal… So I’m going to cover everything that would help one in deciding whether you should buy the game or not. Then I’m going to tell you to buy it. Alright! Let’s begin.
Vault Hunters… Rawr!
It is time for us gamers to venture off into the baron wasteland that are the Borderlands, or Pandora if you want to be technically correct. So let us understand who the player is going to be on his epic adventure using ammunition found in toilets. You’re going to enter Pandora and kill beasts, bad guys, potential rapists, and save the world in the form of a Vault Hunter much like the first game. So what is a Vault Hunter? Well, Vault Hunters in short are absolute bada**es. I mean, everywhere you go, everyone will be like “OHMEGERD a Vault Hunter! [Insert totally unnecessary compliments here]!” So right off the bat, the game makes you feel pretty darn awesome by automatically letting you start as the beasts of human perfection, a vault hunter.
Anyways, Vault Hunters are adventurers or fools as some would call them. They could not resist the lure of possible riches so they have come to find some sort of Vault holding great treasures. They are known to be highly-skilled and very deadly, but that’s to be expected of hunters who challenge those in absolute power, much like the main villain, Handsome Jack who owns the Hyperion Corporation, a manufacturer for weapons, and is also in search of the treasures.
So what has the world come to?
Alright, so where to begin… I think the beginning sounds good. Anyways, some Vault Hunters came to Pandora and discovered, surprise, a Vault. They opened it up, fought a few monsters and found nothing of value. After the vault had been opened, the planet started spewing out a rare element known as Iridium, which is apparently highly valuable. The element attracted a great deal of people, especially those who seek riches, such as treasure hunters, and especially those in greater power, like Hyperion. After awhile, Hyperion’s searches led them to believe there was a Vault with even greater treasure than the already-valuable iridium and now everyone wants in.
I guess the premise is pretty straight-forward. You’re a Vault Hunter, you want riches… Handsome Jack also wants riches and another surprise, even more power, so he wants Vault Hunters dead. Things are starting to piece together, right? Of course, there’s more to the story, like saving Pandora and what not, but the developers wanted all this to be a surprise so I’ll leave it at that. At least for now, you know you’re some kind of wicked treasure hunter and not some murderous fiend soldier thingy, unless of course, you like playing as murderous fiend soldier thingys, then that’s all on you.
Choose your destiny
Going back to the topic of Vault Hunters, it turns out they come in four different flavors. Or five, if you pre-ordered, but that doesn’t happen till later. So as a player, you get to choose between four very distinct classes, each with their own unique abilities and class specializations to play in the game which are the Siren, the Commando, the Gunzerker, and the Assassin.
On top of having four classes, each class has three different specializations. Yes, this game much like the first, has retained its skill tree system which is the RPG element of the game. You gain experience points and level up and starting at level 5, you earn one skill point per level which you can use on the skill tree to make yourself stronger and actually make what the people in the game say not a lie. I think the skill trees in this game are brilliant. Let’s face it, not everyone is an avid FPS gamer and some people are here for the RPG elements. Truth be told, you can customize your character to whatever play-style you enjoy using whichever specialization appeals to your needs. Want to snipe with the Assassin? Sure. Want to use two rocket launchers at the same time while forcing all enemies to attack you with the Gunzerker? Why not? Want to play support and kill nothing and make your bullets somehow heal your teammates on a Siren? I don’t see a problem with that. All your choice.
The game is definitely quite lengthy so you'll definitely want to decide on which class best suits you for your first run through. The good news is that you can make multiple accounts and end up playing all the classes in the long run. Also, don't forget that every morning for the rest of the week, i'm going to add a class overview for you to check out!
Monday - Zer0 the numbe... Assassin Overview
Tuesday - Maya the Siren Overview
Wednesday - Axton the Commando Overview
Thursday - Salvador the Gunzerker Overview
First Person Role-Playing Game
Alright, so we got the classes, but what exactly is Borderlands? Well, it's a first-person shooter that happens to be an RPG complete with quests, leveling up, skill trees, and loot. Pretty sweet deal for me since I enjoy both shooters and RPGs.
The good thing about Borderlands is playing the game isn't that hard. You don't have to be a hardcore shooter pro to be good at the game. It helps, but even if you don't play shooters that often, it's pretty difficult to miss most of the creatures in this game since some of them are rather large and make shooting the broad-side of a barn seem more difficult. Also, if you die, you have about 10 or so seconds to "fight for your life." Basically, if you go down, you can kill something close to you to instantly get up and catch "second wind." But if you were to actually die, you'll just get reconstructed at the closest checkpoint you've passed for a small fee. Pretty straight forward, no?
Adventures in Pandora
So the thing about Borderlands 2 is it is HUGE… The world is huge. There is a lot of adventure space for you to enjoy. And for ease of travel, you may teleport to any area using a teleporter station located in every safe haven zone, which are areas generally populated by non-hostile people and are free of monsters. You can’t really teleport to an exact location, but that’s why they have vehicles in the game, which are readily available pretty much everywhere. The dune-buggy equipped with rockets and Gatling guns you’re a loud to digitally summon makes single-player travel such a breeze because even as the driver, you can operate the guns without an actual gunner.
As far as playing the game goes, the story and travel itself is rather linear, which leads you traveling from area to area in a straight line. But what do you expect? You have to level somehow so you must move on from easier to harder areas.
Questing the story till you drop
So it’s apparent that the game was designed for either enjoyable co-op or some sort of endgame because the whole process of the story and leveling up is somewhat of a grind, especially if you plan to level a second character after you’ve already beaten the story of the game. You do tasks for people, you gain experience for doing the task and killing whatever was in your way, and then you get sent off to another area.
Fortunately, the nature of Borderlands is one of such great comedy. Everything about the game from character personality to dialogue is absolutely terrific and made my grind to the higher levels so much more enjoyable. The other bright side is everything is just so easy to understand. Any shooter fan who hasn’t played an RPG can jump right in and know what to do and the basic tasks themselves are easy enough for non-shooter gamers to play the game without too much frustration. Does that make the game to easy for shooter-RPG fans? Actually, yes it does but at higher levels, the game became naturally more difficult and I’m sure playing with friends which makes the monsters more difficult will become so much more fun.
Adventures in Pandora… with extra cheese! And friends
I lied about the cheese, sorry, BUT you really can adventure with friends which makes for both a really fun experience and extra loot. Think Phantasy Star Online or Monster Hunter having a love child with Unreal Tournament where you just run around, do quests, kill monsters, collect sweet guns, and gain experience in a post-apocalyptic environment. It’s fun to just talk and play sometimes in a non-competitive environment which is definitely something a bit different in a modern shooter-based game, unless you’re talking zombies or horde-mode but again, this is more of an RPG than a slaughter fest.
If you don’t have friends, the good news is the game has matchmaking, so you can start making some! On top of matchmaking, there’s also the option for local co-op through split screen which is great because some companies have forgotten about that.
Also, sorry, but there are no options for competitive game modes as of now. You can initiate a “dual” with another player but that’s really just for fun, kind of like challenging someone to unofficial PvP battle in Tera or whatever other MMO anytime you want. So for the most part, the core of the game’s multiplayer is co-op and I think Gearbox aims to enhance that experience in future updates. If you pre-order, you gain access to the Monster Slaughter House, which instantly transforms the gameplay into a tower defense kind of genre where you must survive hordes of rampaging monsters. The previous Borderlands even had DLC that involved a co-op zombie survival. So what’s in-store for the second game is still a mystery.
All-in-all, Borderlands 2 multiplayer is what I call “perfect” because it does exactly what it is supposed to do. The game isn’t and will never be a competitive game, unless you want the prettiest laser rifle among your friends of course. With that in mind, Gearbox did not even think about reducing the co-op experience for any cheap attempt at following what other shooters were made to do. Kudos, Gearbox, kudos. Still, that doesn’t mean they can’t add witty competitive modes later down the road for the heck of it.
Bazillion guns? Does anyone have a bigger number for me?
So one of the game’s largest selling points is having so many guns that you’ll blow your mind trying to remember them all. The fact of the matter is, Borderlands 2 has a mega ton of guns and possible combinations. Yea, there were some clones of guns a long the way as far as exterior goes, but a great majority of the guns were different in its own way. Burst fire, scopes, aim correction, the works. As you begin to obtain guns of higher rarity ratings, they become a tad bit more unique and way better looking, which makes sense and some of them even have unique effects that you won’t know about till you use it for a bit.
So collecting guns isn't like a typical shooter where you level up and earn new guns. In Borderlands 2, you have to find them by either killing monsters, opening loot boxes, or simply buying them if they happen to be available in the shop. For the most part, I think weapon drops are randomized, so they just happen or not. There are a ton of guns so you better start collecting early!
As far the weapons go, I do enjoy the fact that the varying classes aren’t limited on the equipment they can use, which is a big plus in my book. As far as I’m concerned, you can be a healer with a rocket launcher so I approve.
Playing a comic
As far as graphics go, Borderlands 2 still retains that cell-shady look the original game introduced us to. Personally, I think it looks great and is very fitting to the world of Pandora. Realistic shooters were sooo three months ago. Now it’s all about motion comic books. But really, if I had to compare Borderlands to anything, it would have to be artwork I’d find in a graphic novel. It’s all very good and considering the theme, the graphics are a breath of fresh air from the direction of moving towards realism.
Playing the game is very smooth. It looks and runs great on console and I’m sure does twice the job on PC. But even while being massacred by a horde of bully-mongers, which are large gorilla like beasts, the game did not lag. That’s a big plus
Every game has flaws but Borderlands 2 was limited in the obvious ones. As far as glitches are concerned, there was one instance where I got stuck in a porta-potty (I know, right?) and couldn’t move so I had to restart the level. I’m going to dock some points for that, but after extensive testing at the same vile toilet location, I could not repeat the offense. Just know, that the issue does occur.
The other gripe I have with the game is one that actually isn’t that bad. During your adventures, especially on a mission, you’ll hit checkpoints. These are locations where if you were to die, the game will reconstruct your body there for a small gold fee, so essentially you can restart a level till you go broke. However, should you quit the session, you get spawned at either a safe haven location or closest entrance to another zone when you return to the game and not at the check point. It makes sense, but should you run into a sticky glitch, starting at a checkpoint would be nice, but beggars can’t be choosers.
SO what’s the deal?
Alright, I’ve explained several aspects of the game. There were so many pros that I really wanted to try and hunt down the cons just to share some thought but honestly, it was quite difficult. I’m sure some of you have some opinions transitioning from the first to second game, but all-in-all, Gearbox did a magnificent job with Borderlands 2. It does its job, as well as accurately portrays such a baron wasteland with very cunning yet sometimes vile characters I’ll always love right from the beginning to the end of the game.
I’m reluctant to give it a perfect score since I’ve been trying to go harder on the games I review, but you know what, with a rating that only goes up to five, I have no shame in giving Gearbox’s very enjoyable couch/online, co-op, single-player, FPS-RPG title, Borderlands 2, a 5 out of 5. Oh yea, and before I forget. Buy it.