Review: Borderlands 2

Review: Borderlands 2
4.5/5 Review Score:

Gearbox Software is back with a sequel to 2010’s critically acclaimed First Person Loot’em Up: Borderlands. Borderlands 2 takes the original premise and expands upon it in every way, shape and form. Bigger world, bigger enemies and of course, bigger guns.

Like the original, you are not playing Borderlands 2 for the plot. In fact, if you played the original (which is highly likely) you will feel a sense of deja vu. You are a Vault Hunter on the Planet Pandora, an multibillion dollar, intergalactic corporation known as Hyperion is trying to unlock The Vault and unleash The Warrior. The only changes in the overarching story is Atlus changed to Hyperion and The Destroyer became The Warrior…I bet that took a whole of three seconds to come up with.

Borderlands 2

That being said, the story is filled with interesting characters to fill that frustrating repetition. You have returning characters such as Angel, Moxxi, Claptrap, Scooter and Dr Zed as well as the  Lilith, Mordecai, Brick and Roland as NPC’s who play a major role in the games progression. However, my personal favorite character is Handsome Jack, the evil head of Hyperion and a genuinely hilarious, but extremely violent bad guy of the whole thing. As expected, Borderlands 2 is side splittingly funny with great dialogue, a brilliant cast and countless references to pop culture. Sure the plot itself is as bad as it ever was, but it makes up for it with wit, guile and general hilarity. Something the original failed to fully pull off.

Gameplay in Borderlands 2 has not changed too much. You go from area to area on foot, through fast travel beacons or via Scooters “CATCH A RIIIIIIIIIDE!” system.  Each area contains a handful of quests to complete, as well as a wide variety of monsters to defeat. Loot can be found everywhere. Whether you are opening up the door to an outdoor commode, searching the remains of a death Skag or finding a mysterious chest. To make the Loot aspect of the game more fun, there are billions of weapons in the game, all of which are 100% unique in terms of stats. In the 40 or so hours i pumped into this game, I cannot recall ever picking up the same weapon twice. Now this kind of system was in the original as well, but the biggest let down was the lack of variation in a weapons appearance. In Borderlands 2, there are way more weapon models so finding the same gun multiple times is less likely.

Borderlands 2

When you are not looting, you are levelling up. Levelling up increases all your base stats such as HP, damage and defense, but after level 5 you also gain stat points to give yourself unique skills and modifiers. Like the original, you have 4 classes to pick from, and whilst they all have the ability to use the same guns, their play style is vastly different. You have The Commando, The Assassin, The Siren and The Gunzerker, each of which come with 3 skill trees to invest in, and each having a unique Action Skill such as dual wielding, deploying a turret or even trapping enemies in a pocket dimension for a little while. Re-specialising is quick and easy from the games main hub, so experimenting with different loadouts is possible. For example I went from a Siren who specialised in elemental damage, and general damage output, then swapped out to a different loadout and began brainwashing enemies to fight for me, and deflecting bullets back at my foes with the power of my mind.

But, to keep things even more interesting there is the new Badass System. Completing challenges, such as killing 5 specific enemies, rewards you with Badass ranks, and these reward you with tokens to increase your stats by about 0.5%. There is no limit to how high of a Badass Rank you can get, and the bonuses carry over to all characters you create. You could eventually get a level 1 commando with insane stats because of your Badass level 30 Siren.

Borderlands 2

What keeps Borderlands 2 so fresh, and interesting is the constant stream of rewards coming your way. Whether you are completing a challenge, or leveling up, or becoming a Badass or finding a super slick sniper rifle, there is always something you are achieving. Heck, there is even Achievements! You can play for hours on end and not get bored simply because the game is giving you something shiny to distract you. And as a gamer, thats all we really want.

But there is more! Borderlands 2 is not just crap story, funny characters awesome rewards. There is also tonnes of side quests, and once again, these are a massive improvement over the originals poor offering. Gone are the endless fetch quests, and instead we have genuinely interesting quest arches that give you more information on the world, and even your character. You can still find fetch quests of course, but even they are cunningly disguised as to make you not really care. One of my personal favorites was taking a reformed murderous AI from body to body despite his murderous intent being directed your way. These quests are way more than just a way to grind up some levels or prolong the games life, they are interesting and integral to the game itself. Something missing from many games throughout history.

Borderlands 2

What is Borderlands without multiplayer? Well actually it is still a great game. But, when you are running around with 3 mates defeating foes, beating down hoes and collecting some sweet loot everything becomes that much better. It also promotes some of the more pointless single player skills, mostly found on The Siren, such as shooting your allies to heal them. Jumping in and out of games is quick and easy, and once you have had a few games with some friends backing you up, you can’t go back. Duelling has also returned allowing you to test your skills and loot against other players to prove who is the best, or just to show off your new half pistol, half sniper rifle, half chaingun gun.

Just to top it all off, we have the graphics. The strong styling of the original has returned, and has been improved with better draw distance, crisper visuals and more varied locales. Whilst the cell shaded look may be off putting to some, I absolutely loved every inch of it. And to tie it all together you have an outstanding soundtrack and some brilliant voice work throughout. Top marks all around.

Overall, Borderlands 2 is absolutely brilliant. It improves over the original in almost every single way, and is one of the must buy games of 2012. Sure the story was a massive letdown, but when everything else is so good, it is hard to dwell on its failings which is why I give Borderland 2 4.5/5.

2 Comments
  • Fire Hawk D
    October 4, 2012
    #1
    GD Star Rating
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    Even though I’ve already finished the game, I love still popping it in. What an amazing sequel. =D

    • Adam Carr
      October 4, 2012
      #2
      GD Star Rating
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      Totally agree. And with 4 or 5 DLC packs coming, and a new class the game seems to be well supported. Looking forward to reviewing those when they come around.

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