Published on October 8th, 2012 | by Joseph Caballero21
Borderlands 2 Review
Publisher(s) By: 2K Games
Rated: “M” for Mature
Release Date: September 18th, 2012
Platform(s): Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 & PC
The first Borderlands was a phenomenal RPS (Role-Playing Shooter) game with many weapons, locations, enemies, and most memorable, the looting. So how can Gearbox make it any better? Easy, by adding more enemies, literally a bazillion guns, new locations, and even more of the looting. They pulled the impossible, and crafted a beautiful and worthy sequel to one of 2009’s Games of the Year. Borderlands 2 manage to be far superior whereas everything has been amped up resulting in a masterful work of art and could possibly be Game of the Year for 2012.
The story allows you to choose between one of the four available Vault Hunter classes. There’s Salvador the Gunzerker, who’s capable of wielding two guns. Zero the Assassin with the ability to drop decoy holograms. Axton the Commando who neutralizes the enemies with turrets and Maya the Siren who uses her phaselock to absorb energy. The planet of Pandora is crucially in the clutches of Handsome Jack as he searches for the Vault, putting you as his number one enemy because you’re goal is to find the vault before he does. Handsome Jack is fun to hate; he’s annoying, funny, and an enjoyable character full of life. The storyline is far more interesting with him and really gives you reason to know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. The people in Borderlands 2 are all far more interesting than before. The colorful character models and extraordinary voice work really makes the game feel more lively then before. Many are entertaining and with the additional humor, you’ll find yourself with some laugh out loud moments. Yes, the claptrap is also back and many will still find him either annoying or hilarious.
What really drags you into the world of Pandora is the loot. Gearbox wasn’t kidding when they said there is a bazillion guns, because they’re really are, that’s a lot of weapons for a number that doesn’t exist. However most of the weapons you’ll find are cheap and worthless. But there is always something better that will have you up for long hours trying to find the best. Loot for ammo, character skins, grenade mods, class mods, and more. There’s a ton of something all over Pandora. With the color system of rarity, things grow ever more exciting every time you find a weapon that’s blue or even orange. With the advantages of loot, this really gives the player the option to search every nook and cranny for something amazing. You’ll find yourself swaying away from the objective as you foolishly get lost in blasting away crazies and enjoying the humor that comes from these very impressive characters all while looking for new and amazing loot.
Skill trees have been utterly improved to make a character your very own. You now have the ability to customize your character in a certain direction you want your to play in. With skills you have the option to choose what play style you favor. If you prefer to stay at a distance and shoot you can customize your skill trees to suit just that, but if you’d like a closer approach you can improve your melee attacks or armor for more of an up-front combat. Each class has their own unique and wide array of skills to increase making several playthroughs necessary. Even with that you’ll find that if you were to play the same class for a second time, the adventure should be different if you choose different skills to upgrade as your first playthrough. The game even offers several selections of skins for the body and head of your character. Borderlands 2 offers a variety of skills all with their own distinctive attribute making the game well worthy in content on skills alone.
Some new additions to the game is the addition of a mini map on the interface of your screen. It’s always on which makes navigating a whole lot easier in the very wide and open world of Pandora. There is no more of the constantly pulling up your map from the in-game menu. The overall interface of the in-game menu has also been tweaked for a much better experience in managing your quest, weapons, and skills. The interface is a lot simpler to use and much more easy to navigate. Missions are also varied in objectives. This really plays out well for Borderlands 2 as you may find yourself going through side missions before you attempt the main campaign mission. This again allows you to explore more of the world and the additional missions help deliver more loot and points to rank up in your skill tree.
Visually Borderlands 2 is stunning. Images are sharp, crisp, and clear; the comic book style look really brings the visuals together and helps deliver a unique stylization that separates Borderlands 2 from other games. What I love about the art style is it leaves very little for texture pop ins and low res images, allowing Borderlands 2 to run extremely well. Though I did see several textures pop ins throughout my adventures and the frame rate did suffer a bit, lagging when there were many enemies on screen. I did stumble on to some minor glitches where one had the enemy (which was actually a boss) stand still and unresponsive to my attacks. Apart from it all, Borderlands 2 is beautiful and even improves itself by varying in landscapes making the game beautiful but also fresh in design and visuals.
Yet again, Borderlands 2 plays wonderfully great. Each weapon has its own accuracy/ weight that in the controls really play out. Weapons are diverse in specifications and maneuvering is still easy and responsive. Looking down the sight is still a bit jerky which you can only really tell when you’re looking down the sight and trying to score a headshot. Since there isn’t an option to focus, sniping could be more of a challenge. Another quirky combat flaw is Zero and his decoy. Every time you drop it the decoy literally just slashes away at the air instead of making its way toward the nearest enemy. I’m not sure if the mechanics are supposed to be like that, but I would have liked it to at least attempt to look real instead of attacking nothing. What’s nice about the combat is that Borderlands 2 likes to throw different enemies at you requiring you to use different tactics and weapons. This keeps the combat fresh and helps position Borderlands 2 differently than other similar RPS games.
Much like the previous Borderlands, Borderlands 2 is an exciting experience when you play with friends. You now have the option to trade with strangers or friends in the in-game menu trade window. When playing online co-op you can either play in your campaign and progress that way or you can join others and help them complete their missions. If you complete a mission you’ve yet to start in your campaign you will have the option to skip them in your campaign. The co-op system is very straightforward and exponential. However there is the problem with shared loot, which makes playing with strangers at times difficult, especially if you’re playing with a hoarder. Co-op is fun and definitely worth a look if you enjoy an online experience.
Borderlands 2 doesn’t re-invent the franchise but it definitely improves on almost every level. It’s fresh, new, and fun all while retaining that original Borderlands feeling with fixes, improvement, and new additions. Co-op is back, the enemies are still crazy, and the voice work is phenomenal. Pandora is back, and better than ever before.
Summary: Borderlands 2 has a vibrant environment, fresh and ecstatic characters, is visually diverse, and there is so much to loot! The minimal glitches and shared loot in co-op really don't hinder the game at all.