Borderlands 2 Reviews

AuthorReview
Slinged
72,985 (51,323)
Slinged
TA Score for this game: 694
Posted on 22 September 12 at 04:38, Edited on 27 September 12 at 19:22
This review has 81 positive votes and 16 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
The first Borderlands could pretty accurately be described in a few short words, those words being looting and shooting. That's not to say that game was bad in any aspect, in fact it was quite the opposite, it just lacked a deep cohesive storyline to draw you in and keep you hooked between the endless expanses of killing, looting, killing, looting and oh wait I almost forgot... more killing! Borderlands 2 however brings so much more depth to the table that it will take far more than a few words or sentence to even begin to delve into how truly sensational this game is. If you played the first and loved it then this will be a game you'll spend hundreds of hours playing over and over again. The thrill of finding new and better gear, in an attempt to make your character into the most bad-ass killing machine Pandora has ever seen, never gets old. There's so much more to the game than just that, I mean sure there's side-quests again but there's also a cohesive storyline at work that draws you in slowly but surely and as a plus you get to see some familiar faces along the way. Borderlands 2 is a truly feast for the eyes, ears and mind.



Story

Borderlands 2 makes no bones about it, right from the get go you know Handsome Jack is a tyrannical bastard, who if he were to exist in real life would probably one of those smug alpha male jerk-offs you see in the club wearing an Ed Hardy shirt. Fear not, old faces will soon pop up to guide you on your way to bringing down your new nemesis. The story this time around is still in the form of missions, but each mission or two forms a chapter of the story and missions are now defined as story(ones you must complete to advance the game's storyline) and optional(ones with little bearing on the games main storyline but often add to the backstory). The cast of characters you meet along the way is yet again memorable as you find all sorts of characters that parody pop culture and for any of you wondering, yes the claptrap is back again to delight you with his whimsical antics. I won't go too far into the storyline as not to spoil any of it but I will tell you that it's decent and relatively dramatic enough to keep you occupied for at the very least a solid 20-30 hours of gameplay. I would've given it a perfect 5 but it still feels like there's little actual talking or interaction from your actual character with others, I'm not asking for much, maybe a few quips here and there.

Story: 4.65/5.00



Graphics

Borderlands and Borderlands 2 both use a cel-shaded graphic/art style, which might cause casual gamers to assume that the graphics are bad or subpar to other games out right now. That's not quite accurate as it lends almost a comic-book like feel to the action, combined with the colorful backsplashes for each major character or enemy introduction it almost feels you're in one. That being said, this game feels very fluid, there are very few noticeables bugs or glitches, though there have been a few occasions where I've stopped my buggy on a rock only to find that it's somehow floating in mid-air. There's a lot of detail put into the night sky and the fact that this game has a day-to-night transition is a major plus, if you look up you can see shimmering stars, an aurora, a huge satellite and more. The HUD and user interface in general looks very polished and the menu's as well look very nice and are quite colorful and certainly nowhere near as bland as they did in the first Borderlands game.

Graphics: 4.80/5.00



Sound

Borderlands 2 features more great voice acting and the depth writing in this one does not disappoint as it is just as lovable and humorous as the first. The music picks up in intensity when combat does, it leads into the rush of what's about to occur as you face off against horde's of giant Hyperion robots, bandits, marauders and psychos. There's a lot of attention to minor details, from the sound and vibration of steam pumps working to wind howling through tight corridors to the revving of the engine as you grab your first buggy from the Catch-A-Ride machine you can tell that they took the time to make this game sound great.

Sound: 4.90/5.00



Gameplay

This game will suck you in, you might not think so at first but once you've started playing it you won't want to put it down. To start off you'll have to choose from one of the four available characters; Maya, the Siren, Zer0 the Assassin, Axton the Commando and Salvador the Gunzerker. A fifth class, the Mechromancer, is confirmed but is not yet available at the time of this review. Each class has it's strengths and weakness and from the combination of the action skills and the skill trees, they yet again provide a unique way for each player to play the game. Borderlands is meant to be played co-operatively and the fact that they made it much easier to integrate your friends into the game by having one button press commands to invite your friends to your party or game is great. You can also see what mission(s) they're working on so you can hop in and lend a hand.

The game can feel a little repetitive at times due to the fact that you'll spend most of your time in town finding and getting quests and the rest of your time outside of town completing these quests so you can get your hands on more loot. I do have to say that most(and I stress most, because some rewards are very good!) mission related rewards usually stink compared to the guns around your level, though that happened quite often in the first Borderlands as well so it's nothing new to veterans of the series.

Guns are a major part of this game and they're far more diversified than they were in the first game, whereas it felt like each guns were all pretty much out of the same mold with subtle, minor differences. It feels like you've got to make a trade-off sometimes when it comes to these guns as you'll perhaps have to use a gun with a slower reload speed or without an elemental effect because it's got higher damage or more accuracy. Guns in Borderlands 2 have all sorts of random things that can make them different and each manufacturer's guns have different capabilities. Tediore guns for example, when the clip is spent you throw the gun like a grenade. I definitely got a kick out of it when my gun exploded in the face of the unsuspecting psycho running towards me with his hatchet in hand intent on hacking me to pieces. There is also a shared stash when you can swap guns and other gear between your characters which is a nice addition since you kind of had to use your friends to do that for you in the first game.

Loot sharing is still present in Borderlands 2 so if you're not a fan of having to race up and grab the loot before Sup4hN00B6969 grabs it then you might not be too pleased with the multi-player aspect of this game. It's a double-edged sword though because loot drops are better with more players. I don't have a problem with it personally because it just adds to the thrill of things, you get a mini-adrenaline rush every time a purple, orange or pearlescent item falls and you've got to rush up and grab it before everyone else does.

To spruce up the old challenge system, which rewarded you with exp gains, Gearbox has added in Badass Ranks, for each level of the challenge you complete you receive a certain number of Badass Ranks, after you receive enough Badass Ranks you get a token to use to permanently upgrade your characters skills, the game randomly selects 5 out of a pool of 14 upgrades and your choice will yield you a percentage based increase. These permanent stat increases apply to all characters on your account and if you don't want to use them when you start a new character, for example, you do have the option of turning them off. These ranks are only limited by the number of challenges out there to complete and there are so many that you could easily obtain a badass rank in the 15000-20000 range and still have a bit more to do.

My lone gripe is that for the massive amount of loot that drops you're only able to carry a small fraction until you start upgrading your backpack, which costs eridium which isn't the easiest thing in the world to come by. In a game that thrives off of questing, killing and looting, I'd prefer the first 2 be the more difficult thing rather than the last.

Gameplay: 4.90/5.00



Achievements

Borderlands 2 has 50 achievements worth 1000 Gamerscore. The achievement distribution is similar to the first game, there's achievements for using your actions skills, completing story missions, discovering locations, completing sidequests and some other miscellaneous location and situational-based achievements. This game should not be too terribly difficult to get 100% on but it will take you awhile as there is an achievement that requires you to complete level 1 of each challenges as well as I believe 5 of the challenges at the bottom of the challenge list(cult of the vault, etc.) and also one that requires a random 'chubby' enemy to show up(Cute Loot). There is are quite a few references to achievements in the first Borderlands as well as one involving Borderlands 2's answer to Crawmerax, in Terramorphous.

Achievements: 4.75/5.00



Conclusion: Borderlands 2 is a magnificent game that will keep you playing for hours, the story is much improved though it still is not the real main focus of the game, which should be perfectly okay with you so long as you don't have a problem venturing forth, questing, killing and looting until your eyes bleed. That's not even mentioning the morbid comedy will keep you laughing the entire way through. If you've already played the first and are thinking about picking up the second, don't waste another minute, GET BORDERLANDS 2! If you haven't given the series a try before, GET BORDERLANDS 2 NOW! Seriously though, this game is heck of a lot of fun and if you don't play it because you read the reviews of morons like the guy in the Wall Street Journal think it's not Call of Duty-y or Halo-y enough for the general public, then you're just plain missing out.

Overall Score: 4.85/5.00

Also, if you didn't like the review or feel I can improve it in any way please don't hesitate to leave me a comment, there's nothing wrong with a little constructive criticism.
Given 5 stars by Slinged
There are 36 comments relating to this Review | Please log in to comment on this solution.
iAmTheTot
82,927 (52,573)
iAmTheTot
TA Score for this game: 2,442
Posted on 04 October 12 at 17:39
This review has 33 positive votes and 0 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Pandora: a “border world” home to bandits, liars, murderers, psychopaths, entrepreneurs, vicious monsters of all sizes, but most importantly home to vault hunters. In Borderlands 2 we're given the role of one of four playable gun-toting mercenaries, assassins, mystical sirens, or steroid-junkies that all share one thing in common: their love for challenge. Each one has been brought to Pandora by different circumstances, but they were all drawn by the promise of an alien vault full to the brim of who-knows-what. The mystique, the danger, the hunt... it was enough for our heroes.

Sound familiar? I am talking about Borderlands 2, though you may have confused this synopsis with the original installment. Indeed there are many similarities at face value, but Borderlands 2 lives up to its name as a proper sequel, making the original Borderlands look nothing short of a beta test. The review will try to be as friendly as possible to both returning players and players who have never touched the series. The review is broken up into segments with concise summaries immediately following each.

Graphics
A returning vault hunter will not be surprised to see Borderlands' art style but anyone unfamiliar to the series may be put off by the series' not-quite-cel-shading graphic-novel-esque flavour. Don't let its “cartoony” appearance fool you, the game's graphics are quite advanced and after some initial rendering you're fairly unlikely to see any kind of pop-up or texture failure for the rest of the game. The game doesn't need to look realistic to shove your stocking full of wild explosions or vibrant landscapes.

As soon as you begin the game you are greeted with a much improved interactive opening screen that immediately displays the title's updated diverse scenery. Returning vault hunters will be pleased to know there are different (and more) models of just about everything from guns to grenades. Perhaps most notably in this department is that even the playable characters have customizable outfits and heads/hairstyles, to an extent (being a loot-driven game, most of them need to be found or unlocked). Equipped shields, class mods, and grenade types now appear on your person aesthetically – perhaps an otherwise moot point if not for the added capability to view and rotate around your character while exploring your menus. No longer shall you lie awake at night wondering how other players see your character!

Pandora has changed since the original title; no longer are the landscapes bland and tiresome. From desert to tundra, even with a volcano thrown in, the environments are much more varied and vibrant. You may even find yourself stopping to look at the scenery this time around.

Veterans from the original Borderlands may be aware of a rather plaguing frame rate issue that arose when too much was happening on screen at once. Safe to assume of any game, really, but with the kind of chaos that Borderlands encourages and even induces it could at times lead the game to a near stand-still. The problem is less noticeable this time around, but could still present itself under particularly hectic circumstances. For the bulk of the game though, you needn't worry about this.

A semi-updated user interface makes navigating the menus and particularly inventories not just easier, but at first it's even more enjoyable. The HUD displayed while playing the majority of the game will look entirely familiar to a returning player, but the menu screen has been pretty wildly altered to give it that “sequel feel.” Probably most notably is the added function to be able to rotate freely around your character while you're in your menu. Disappointing to some (including myself), the HUD remains mostly unalterable – you cannot change its transparency, colour, or the like though you are allowed to fiddle with its position on your screen, a function which is largely useless unless you're specifically correcting an error with your screen adjustment.
Summary: 9/10
Pros:
-Improved, rich user interface
-More customizing, more gun/etc. models
-Diverse locales to progress through

Cons:
-Hectic activity can significantly reduce frame rate momentarily

Sound
Sound can sometimes really be unappreciated. Background music, sound effects, and voice work can really make or break a game. Background music can subtly set the atmosphere for an entire boss fight, sound effects can be the difference between forgetting that you're just playing a game or not, and voice work can lead to real attachment to simple game characters.

The background music in Borderlands 2 does its job pretty wonderfully. When you're nonchalantly roaming the “borderlands” you'll hardly even notice it until the action kicks up and so does the music. It appropriately sets the mood for every setting and really emphasizes the desperation of some boss fights. Not very long after pressing New Game will you be greeted with a song you may or may not have heard before, but afterward will be demanding to know the title of the catchy and entirely appropriate tune.

Gearbox has offered a wide assortment of guns to use throughout your play, and they all have solid sound effects depending on the way they may fire. From explosions to character shouts, the game's collection of sound bites are all high quality – which is good news as you'll be hearing swarms of them, mostly at the same time, during the chaotic play.

Borderlands 2 has significantly more voice work from an even broader cast of characters that you may be hearing after accepting a quest, completing an objective, or even if it's just radio chatter. The quality is all top-notch, but a majour drawback is that there are so many lines of dialogue (many of which is hidden triggers) that it is very easy to miss some of it, or have one conversation cut in half by the beginning of another. While a character is speaking you to, you can safely leave his or hers vicinity with the knowledge that they'll continue speaking to you over your ECHO communication device, but this feature is mostly moot when you end up leaving to go do some shopping or walk by another NPC that interrupts the crucial discussion that was happening.

If you're willing to be a little careful about it, stop and listen to every line of dialogue. It's much more expansive than the original Borderlands and can deliver some plot points, update you on a status of a mission, or just deliver some laughs. Nearly every line of dialogue is a gem and worth listening to.
Summary: 9/10
Pros:
-Subtle but masterful background music appropriately reflects the pace of action
-Explosions, bullets, and everything in between satisfyingly match the chaos you're sure to incite
-Voice work is solid and expansive, and is how the majority of the plot is conveyed

Cons:
-Dialogue may often be cut out by another NPC, causing you to miss anything from a joke to a plot point
-Dialogue, even crucially important dialogue, for the most part, cannot be reheard

Plot
Plot was not an overly critical part of the first game, and was pretty superficial at best. Gearbox responded to many fan requests and this time around the plot plays a (somewhat) more integral role. There are times when the game tries to play a little bit more like an RPG, with more scripted scenes with NPC interaction but trying to stick closer to its action roots, Borderlands 2 doesn't like to tie the player down in one place too often – watching these interactions is almost always optional, anyway, as their conversation will continue over ECHO even with you decide to leave the immediate area. During many story missions non-playable characters will actively interact with and help the player.

Borderlands was pretty much a “point A to point B” trip in terms of story, with very few critical plot points. The player practically just accepted mission after mission until it was over. In this installment Gearbox introduces a central antagonist: Handsome Jack, a nefarious sadist with a Napoleon complex. The mysterious (but outwardly dastardly) CEO of the Hyperion corporation has come to Pandora seeking to rule over it, promising paradise but delivering tyranny. Seeking a rumoured second vault on Pandora, Jack has searched far and wide for skilled vault hunters to find the vault for him.

Enter the player, hired on by the Hyperion Corporation and specifically Handsome Jack to search out the vault. But it's quickly made apparent that's not at all what he wants with you, and your journey is quickly thrown into disarray. Unlike the first title, subtle twists like this are scattered throughout the main story line, meant to catch you when you least expect them and drive you on your quest to stop Jack.

The plot still plays backseat to the gunplay and looting fans from the first Borderlands have grown so fond of, but it's much more apparent. The increased emphasis on plot this outing by Gearbox gives the player a clearer sense of purpose other than just trying to find the next rare gun.

Gearbox didn't want Borderlands to be a game that took itself too seriously. This tradition is very much continued in its sequel as much of the dialogue, mission objectives, and set pieces are aimed to make the player laugh and enjoy their playing experience as much as possible. The plot of Borderlands 2 and the plight of every man and woman on Pandora could easily be a grim, depressing overtone if not for the frequent comic relief tossed at the players.
Summary: 8/10
Pros:
-Much improved emphasis on plot gives players meaning
-Surprises keep the player guessing until the very end
-Wider cast of voiced non-playable characters contribute to the plot
-Humour tries to keep the tone of the game lighthearted*

Cons:
-Lack of backstory may leave new players in the dust for a few hours
-Some story is only learned
by collecting unprompted optional items
-Humour tries to keep the tone of the game lighthearted*

*Pro or con depending on if you find the humour actually funny, or just distracting. There are a lot of conflicting opinions about this, and you're just going to have to decide for yourself.

Gameplay
When Gearbox made Borderlands, they took “RPG” and “FPS” and smashed them together over and over again until the resulting product was an addictive combination of hectic guns-blazing action with level-based randomly generated loot and skill trees. Fans of shooters enjoyed the over-the-top action, fans of RPGs enjoyed the free-roam world and skill trees, and practically everyone enjoyed the cooperative play. Gearbox took whatever (surely) patented “fun formula” they have and cranked it up to eleven, spitting out Borderlands 2 with an even higher addictive quality.

At its core, Borderlands 2 remains essentially unchanged from its predecessor. You accept missions, side missions and discover new areas as the plot progresses, kill leveled enemies to gain experience, spend your skill points in three skill trees for each character, tackle objectives, open chests and hope for bigger and better loot. Guns, grenades, shields, and just about everything else in the game is leveled (higher level meaning better gear) and randomly generated based on its level and rarity (more rare items will have better stats than a more common item of the same level). The bulk of the game entails you using your skills and guns to take down enemies, level up, find better equipment, and repeat this process until the end of the game and/or until you are the maximum level. If this concept does not sound appealing to you, Borderlands 2 may not be right for you.

The appeal of randomly generated equipment is that at any moment you may kill an enemy or open a chest and see a piece of equipment that is relatively worthless to you, about the same as the stuff you already have, quite a bit better than anything you have, or truly unbelievable in comparison to the equipment you have. Never quite knowing exactly what you're going to have at your disposal could lead to many ways of playing the same game over and over again, being forced to employ different tactics.

But are there really that many possibilities? Well... yes, there really are. Besides your guns (of which there are automatic rifles, sub machine guns, shotguns, sniper rifles, pistols, and rocket launchers), there are grenade types, shield types, class mods, and relics. Each one of these items may have one or more different effect or stat from each other and each stat may be better or worse than each other. For example, one moment you may find a grenade that, when thrown, teleports to its target and then explodes for damage while releasing multiple other, smaller grenades that also explode. The next moment you may find a grenade that at face value seems like it may do less damage, but it homes in on a target when thrown, deals continuous fire damage to enemies, and then saps some of that damage and replenishes your health – all in one grenade! You may experience similar conundrums when trying to decide which guns to use, which shields to keep, and what class mods to equip. Preparation may very well amount to a decent chunk of your play time.

For returning vault hunters familiar with the concept of randomly generated loot, rest assured that there are many more shield types, class mod effects, grenade types, and gun effects this time around, leading to even more possible loot – and some of these effects may even be mixed such as the Homing Fiery Transfusion grenade example listed above.

The four playable characters (with a fifth being released as DLC in mid-October) are fairly reflective on the original four vault hunters: you have a soldier, siren, assassin, and “gunzerker.” In the first Borderlands individual characters were often encouraged to specialize in certain gun types via passive bonuses available from their skill trees, while this time around the classes are overall encouraged to be jacks of all trades with guns. Very few skills specifically effect just one gun type, and the classes specializations usually come in elsewhere (such as the gunzerker being adept at taking a lot of bullets to the face and living to tell the tale, or the siren being proficient at controlling a crowd or excelling with elemental weapons). With a current level cap of fifty, you'll find yourself with no more than forty five skill points to spend on trees that have well over one hundred twenty possible points to invest, though for a fee you are allowed to reallocate your skill points if you are not pleased with how a certain skill is performing for you.

Borderlands 2 is not as straight forward as a simple shooter; aim for the head, sure, but what if your opponent doesn't have a head? Further displaying its role as a hybrid genre, Borderlands 2 forces you to engage a wide variety of foes such as anything from a mere humanoid, to a four-armed snow ape, to a creepy-crawly that can burrow in and out of the ground, to a quick aggressor that can turn visible or invisible at will. Truly, a returning Borderlands player will be glad to know that while some familiar enemy types are returning, they do so with a wide company of new diverse reinforcements.

Many of the side missions (and there are quite a few) are unique from each other and could range from short easy-as-pie missions to long missions that are part of a chain of side missions. Gearbox did a good job of keeping them interesting though, as even though many of them include running around it's usually just running from objective to objective, which may include protecting a flag as it’s raised or shooting an NPC specifically in the face or hunting a fearsome boss.

A popular feature from one of the DLCs from Borderlands was a bank to store some of your equipment that you're not using, but don't want to get rid of. This concept carried over to Borderlands 2, along with cross-character storage. These features are not made immediately available to you, but are unlocked with the natural progression of the story. This comes at the cost of an overall smaller inventory than the original Borderlands, however, a fact that may upset many returning vault hunters.

Currency on Pandora comes in two forms: money, and “eridium.” The money itself is gained by killing enemies, completing quests, or selling unwanted equipment and may be used to purchase new equipment or feed your gambling addiction with a newly added slot machine mechanic. The eridium, earned mostly through the same means but much more rare, is used on the black market to purchase upgrades that increase your inventory slots, or the maximum amount of ammo you can hold at once.

And we haven't even come to the cooperative gameplay yet. Borderlands may be thoroughly enjoyed as a single player game, but playing with a friend has never been easier. At any given point you can check you main menu to see who on your Xbox Live friends list is playing, what they're doing, and either join their game or send them an invite. And with a plethora of network options at your disposal you can play Borderlands 2 publicly, with Xbox Live friends, by invite only, or split-screen locally. Furthermore, new to Borderlands 2, if you and a local friend both have Xbox Live Gold memberships, you may take your split-screen action online for a unique blend of couch coop and online play.

The cooperative play is purely drop-in, drop-out. At any point you may join a game (if you have the permission to), and at any point you may leave it. You're not just joining the host's game, either – your games truly become one, and if you're in the same portion of the plot you will be able to partake in the same quests and everyone will reap the rewards as well as progress the plot. In this respect, it's unfortunately easy for someone to come into your game and mess with it in ways you may not want if you're playing publicly visible (easily changed on the fly at any point in the main menu), particularly if you're trying to listen to some dialogue and another player does something to trigger another piece of dialogue. So even though you're sharing the game world try to remember that you joined their game. If someone has joined you and is doing something unsavory, it's easy to eject them from the game via the main menu and they could do the same to you.
Summary: 10/10
Pros:
-All equipment is randomly generated based on level, resulting in higher possibilities
-Larger variety of equipment than predecessor
-Four playable characters can excel with all weapon types while still remaining entirely unique from each other
-Larger variety of enemies than predecessor
-Side missions mix up their objectives to keep it fresh
-Bank and cross-character storage
-Drop-in/drop-out coop made even easier
-Take couch coop online

Cons:
-Returning players may get bored with the essentially unchanged core formula
-Returning players may be disheartened by the smaller inventory size

Length/Replay Value
How much bang are you getting for your buck? In today's stressful economy, I like to equate gameplay hours to dollars spent. But Borderlands 2 may be a mixed bag for a wide assortment of players. If you don't like the concept of constantly trying to better your equipment, or playing through the same game multiple times in different ways, then Borderlands 2 may have a minimal length for you. If you play through the story without even doing all the side missions, you may net around twenty hours of play before you're done with the game. Bought new at sixty dollars, you'd be getting a third of an hour for each dollar spent.

However, if you enjoy the aforementioned, the length and replay value grows exponentially at a scary rate. Gearbox
encourages multiple playthroughs in many ways. After initially completing the story, you will be able to replay the story with the same character at a harder difficulty (higher risk, higher reward). There are four characters (with a fifth as DLC as of mid-October) that are sufficiently unique from each other that they can provide entirely different gameplay experiences. Gearbox has also promised at least four majour DLC expansions for Borderlands 2 (akin to the rather successful expansions from Borderlands); even further adding to the life and replay value. All things considered, if this is your cup of tea, you could be splitting pennies per hour of gameplay – a bargain that's hard to argue with.
Summary: 10/10
Pros:
-Multiple character playthroughs and reaching maximum level can net you hundreds of hours
-Multiple DLC expansions incoming

Cons:
-One play will net around 20 hours

In conclusion, players must remember that Borderlands 2 does not try to be a shooter, or an RPG. It is a hybrid genre that embraces both equally, providing both wild over-the-top action and RPG elements such as leveled gear, skill trees, and character classes. The game can be fully enjoyed alone, with a friend using couch co-op, or online with up to four other players in cooperative play publicly or with friends. The concept of randomly generated equipment can be so hit-or-miss with some players that if you're even feeling a little unsure about it you may want to borrow the game or rent it for a quick personal experience. If you're familiar with the idea or have played the original installment and did not like it, this game is not for you. If you're familiar with the idea or have played the original installment and enjoyed it, I recommend buying this game.
Total Score: 9.2/10
Given 5 stars by iAmTheTot
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knight0fkh0nshu
418,904 (286,058)
knight0fkh0nshu
TA Score for this game: 2,442
Posted on 20 October 12 at 14:09, Edited on 20 October 12 at 14:10
This review has 21 positive votes and 3 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Pandora. It’s been a few years since we last met…my how you have changed. Gone are the dull browns and bleak backdrops. Vanished is the weak storyline. Gearbox didn’t just rest on their laurels and pump out a sequel that is just like its’ predecessor. No, Gearbox has taken Borderlands shoved it into a metamorphic pod and created a whole new improved animal. A game that takes everything the original was and turns it into something even more incredible.

The hardest choice was picking which character to start out with because all four look so great. Maya, the Siren, is a great choice because of her team health regeneration. She also is the Borderlands equivalent of a battle mage. Able to freeze her enemies in the air while you and your friends unleash upon the helpless victim. Salvador, is probably my least favorite. Not to say he isn’t useful, his Gunzerking can wipe out a mass crowd of enemies. He just wasn’t my playstyle. Zer0 & Axton are amazing in their own right as well. Axton can upgrade to rockets on his turrent (or even have two turrets out at the same time). He’s a great crowd controller and an all around balanced character. As for Zer0, his melee can be amazing if you can stay alive long enough to use it. He’s great at sniping enemies, especially if you take the right skill tree upgrades.

After character selection and a brief cutscene you find yourself alone with Claptrap. One thing you can count on throughout Borderlands history is that Claptrap will always find some trouble for you to dig him out of. This holds true in Borderlands 2 as Claptrap “rescues” you from a freezing death and declares you his minion – complete with a lifetime of servitude and banter! After rising from your potential icy cold grave you learn that Jack, the self-proclaimed ruler of Pandora and Borderlands 2 main antagonist, lured you to Pandora to kill you – as he has other vault hunters before you, except this time you escape.

During this opening act, it’s hard not to notice how much more detail has gone into Borderlands 2. It’s predecessor, while very good in its’ own right, wasn’t much to look at unless you’re just in love with dull brown colors. Gearbox has taken the time to rectify this in numerous ways. From frozen tundra, to a lava filled area, and marshes that have an almost Alice In Wonderland effect. The backdrops are beautifully detailed and the day-to-night cycle are just some of the many ways that Gearbox has improved eye candy in Borderlands 2.

The A.I. has seen a complete overhaul too, seeing the Unreal Engine flexing its’ muscles. Enemies that you shoot in the leg will start to hobble while searching for cover, often making easy pickings. Hyperion robots arms and legs will fall off when shot limiting their movement and fighting capabilities. Let them linger too long though and they will repair themselves or repair drones, bringing a whole new element that the original Borderlands didn’t have.

One suprising thing is the health regeneration taken off the shields. At first I thought they had ruined my favorite game, but I am pleased to see as the game progressed it opened up many ways to play the game. Ammo absorbing, elemental protection, nova blasts are just a few of the different types of shields that are substituted in place of health regeneration. Plus, the characters all have some form of health regeneration in their skill trees so it diminishes the loss of health regen shields.

A new aspect to the Borderlands franchise is Eridium. Eridium is found by killing enemies, completing quests, and looting containers. It’s also a big part of the main story as well as Jack is pumping Eridium into a certain someone in order to open the newest vault – which you are trying to stop. Another change is that you buy your ammo upgrades with Eridium in a special shop in Sanctuary instead of the vending machines as you did in the first Borderlands. Here is one minor complaint about this game: once you buy all of your upgrades (besides for the “You Will Die, Seriously!” mission), Eridium is useless. You can’t trade it to other people or your other characters. I think, perhaps with a future DLC, that Gearbox could implement a machine/store where you could trade in your Eridium to upgrade your guns to E-Tech weapons (which are pretty much guns on Eridium steriods). Again, a minor complaint, but I feel that it has potential to be more useful than it is at the moment.

The main quest and side missions have a complete overhaul as well. Sure there are your “fetch and grab” missions too, but there are plenty of unique missions as well that require you to do things you don’t expect from a Borderlands game: protecting a robot, leading a bad guy to a tea party without him dying, and various others. References from numerous movies can been found throughout the missions. Infiltrating a pizza loving sewer-dwelling ninjas lair to a visit to a cape crusaders’ hideout. There are plenty of awesome Easter eggs and you don’t even have to look that hard! Even some Disney and Nintendo characters have made it into the game if you can find them!

Easter eggs are fun and all but when I think of Borderlands, I think of loot. This is the only area I feel that Borderlands 2 suffers in. Not that there isn’t lots of great loot, but the fact that chests don’t really seem to reward you with the kind of loot you expect – especially the red chests. This could have been my luck of the draw though. Other than that, the creativity in hiding or reaching these chests lacked. I like finding easy chests as well as the next, but I love being the first one in my group to find a chest that was way off to the side of the world in the “keep moving you’ll die out-of-bounds area.” I didn’t get that feeling while playing this sequel. It doesn’t take away from the game by any means, it’s just a nitpicky thing.

By far the best new addition to Borderlands 2 is the Badass Ranks. In its’ predecessor you complete challenges that gave you XP. Gearbox takes these challenges a step further by rewarding players a token for reaching a Badass milestone. Challenges range from getting kills with a certain type of gun, elemental damage, finding hidden symbols, and much more. The tokens once redeemed give you a randomized choice of certain stats that you can increase. Ranging from health increase, shield capacity, melee damage, reload speed, and many more. The best part about these Badass Ranks is they aren’t tied to a certain character, they factor across all of your characters. Meaning anything bonus ranks you earn with one character will carry over to each other character you have or create. There is also no set limit on how high you can extend your Badass Rank, so fans that continue to play the game years after will still be rewarded for their dedication.

Making an appearance from the first game is all four of the original vault hunters. In fact, they are where most of your main quests will come from in attempt to keep Jack from opening the newest Vault. It’s great to see Gearbox flesh out the lore of the franchise and make you connect to the characters you played as in the first game. Speaking of NPC’s, if you thought that the first game had over the top dialogue and insane characters then you haven’t made it to Tiny Tina – who could possibly be one of my favorite NPC’s of all time. Her inner childish dialogue can only be matched by her love for bunnies and badonkadonks. Aside from Tiny Tina, there are plenty of other colorful characters you will get to interact with. Some you will know and some will be new.

Borderlands 2 is everything that we hoped it would be. It’s quite obvious that the amazing people at Gearbox have listened to feedback from their fans and turned this game into more than the original could ever have hoped to strive for. While I still believe Borderlands 2 is best played as a co-op experience with friends, it’s still just as easily a great single player game as well. Even with a few more games coming out this year, Borderlands 2 is my game of the year thus far.

Final Rating: 9.5/10

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This review was written for BrokenJoysticks.net and is the property of BrokenJoysticks.net.
Given 5 stars by knight0fkh0nshu
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TheSecondLetter
99,235 (64,013)
TheSecondLetter
TA Score for this game: 1,519
Posted on 20 December 12 at 20:25, Edited on 20 December 12 at 20:28
This review has 9 positive votes and 3 negative votes. Please log in to vote.


I didn't enjoy the first Borderlands. The story was lacking, the gameplay was overly repetitive and its dusty sandbox world wasn't worth exploring. Given my issues with the first I consider myself fortunate that my best friend convinced me to play Borderlands 2 despite my beefs.

This time around, Gearbox gave us an interesting world to explore; An excellent cast of characters and new stat-boosting options to combat the tedium of leveling.

Unless you are opposed to ultra violent games and dark humor, Borderlands 2 is a great game you can't afford to miss

With that said, I believe the following types of gamers will enjoy this game the most:

Action Junkies - Borderlands 2 is one high-intensity combat sequence after another. Toss in the excellent, spot-on controls and button-mapping and the improved inventory interface and you've got a game that no Action Junkie should pass on, period.

Collaborators - This game is definitely better when played with friends. Gearbox clearly made Borderlands 2 to appeal to collaborators--they've provided incentives for friends or even strangers to play the game together. The game increases the difficulty level, gives you more money and drops better loot in proportion to the amount of people you have in your squad. On top of that, Borderlands 2 cooperative play is completely seamless. No ridiculous pre-game menus to sift thru. Just find a game, jump in and all your progress comes with you. This edition even gives you the option to skip over portions of your single-player game that you've completed with friends their games.

Explorers - Many people refer to the Borderlands games as "open-world" or "sandbox" titles. While this assessment is not incorrect, I do want to make a point to you more enthusiastic explorers out there. The world in Borderlands 2 is not completely open. It's a collection of decent-sized maps tied together by travel-hub loading screens and navigated by a stationary fast-travel system.

So don't think Elder Scrolls openess where you have the freedom to basically walk to anything you can see or immediately fast-travel to any location you've already visited. Don't let this discourage you, though. The real feeling of exploration comes from how the game allows you to approach enemy locations and combat situations with a large degree of freedom. Bottom line--Exploration is Borderlands 2 is open enough for most explorers to at least be satisfied if not blown away.

Audiophiles - I believe Borderlands 2 should be seen as the standard for how to execute a dynamic soundtrack. Not only is the music itself amazing, but the way it adjusts to what you are doing in the game is absolutely on point. The music, voice acting and sound effects all had a direct positive impact on my game experience. Extreme Audiophiles that need a dope soundtrack to pull them into their games should not be disappointed here.

I'd like to note that the voice acting is also handled dynamically. When I would encounter a battle with enemies around the same level as me, they would taunt me and talk a lotta smack. When I would either beat them down or encounter enemies much weaker than me, they would whine about me leaving them alone or at least ask that I don't loot their equipment once I killed them. Very well done.

Builders - The builder or customization elements of Borderlands 2 were what initially hooked me. However, by the time I started my 2nd playthru on true vault hunter mode, I was a bit burnt out because of the slow leveling progression. This game starts out significantly more difficult than the original (at least that was my experience playing as the Assassin). This makes it all the more sweet when you level up, enter skill points and return to an area where you got your ass handed to you to whoop some ass of your own.

With that said, if you are like me and plan to put in many hours of play beyond simply beating the game, be aware that the repetitive nature of Borderands 2 might begin to wear on you. Also, leveling from 40-50 seemed like an absolute chore--especially considering the sweet level-50 loot I'd been holding and could not use. EXP gets way too scarce too early in my opinion.

Achievers - For you completionists and achievement junkies out there, Borderlands 2 offers quite a bit to do. And aside from a few tedious achievements, most of it is a whole lot of fun.

These gamer types will find slight disappointments in Borderlands 2:

Strategists - Borderlands 2 doesn't do a great job of rewarding smart use of strategy of tactics. Winning a battle requires little more than having good weapons for your level or simply attacking enemies whose levels are on-par or lower than yours. While playing with friends, you can incorporate different tactics using the diverse character classes, but you'll never really get the sense that doing so is necessary. If I had to guess, I'd say including different character classes is more about giving the gamer choices for how they fight and less about adding a tactical feel to the battlefield. And this is not necessarily a bad thing. The fact that tactics take a backseat to the action is part of what makes this game so accessible to so many people.

Competitors - Other than Fink's Slaughter House, another secret arena found later in the game and a head-to-head dual mode, there's not much here for the competitor types who favor games like Call of Duty or Battlefield.

Visualists - The graphics here are a mix between beautifully handled color and awkward-looking character models. Overall, the visual presentation is good, but I wouldn't call it outstanding.

Bookworms - Borderlands 2's story may be slightly more coherent than the first, but that's really not saying much. Bookworms will find a functional story, but not much more than that. If great stories with well-developed characters are your thing, than Borderlands 2 is not where you should be looking. Its saving grace is the outstanding voice cast. Handsome Jack may very well be my most favorite villain ever in my video gaming history. Just listen to him joke about killing one of your friends

Takeaways

+ Mechromancer character class is fun to play
+ Badass Rank perks add depth to character development

- Backtracking to turn in quests and receive rewards
- The in-game map is hard to interpret at times
- Character development slows to a lull between levels 40 and 50
- Pirate's Booty DLC uninspired

Verdict - I hope that I've given you enough information to determine if Borderlands 2 is right for you (Hint: It is right for you, go cop it!). If you are an Action Junkie and or a Collaborator, I'd say you cannot afford to pass this game up. As always, if you've already played it, leave us commentary about your experience. Peace and Godspeed!

Original Review: http://alloyseven.com/articles/game/item/65-borderlands2revi...
Given 4 stars by TheSecondLetter
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