Genre: First Person Shooter Developer: Publisher: Classification: MA15+ Release Date: 20th Sep 2012 Platforms:
Average of 13 Ratings
Login to submit your review score
Borderlands was revelatory. It was proof that the loot-chaser mechanic of Diablo could work in a first person shooter, that cel-shading wasn't only for comic book games and that Gearbox Software could do more than port games or make outstandingly (if depressingly) realistic tactical shooters.
It would have been near perfect if it didn't have extremely simplistic enemy AI and a bare bones story - though an argument could be made that these are 'tropes' of the loot-chaser game. As Gearbox started releasing expansion packs it became obvious that they knew where they'd gone wrong - especially in the story department - with the culmination of their learning appearing in the excellent "The Secret Armory of General Knoxx" expansion.
Borderlands 2 takes the successful formula of the first game, adds a compelling story, actual enemy AI and caps it off with about a dozen other reasons why you absolutely should get into it.
Borderlands 2 knows what it is. It has a very well-defined self-identity, and it sticks to it throughout. It's at times brutally difficult - and it will punish you when you fail - but it's unbelievably rewarding as well. It has a sense of humour similar to any of a dozen Adult Swim shows - but it's not afraid to confront the player either. It uses stylised graphics to get away with lower visual acuity, but it features an astounding level of detail everywhere.
It's a demonstration that Gearbox knows its target audience extremely well, because a good loot-chasing game isn't about the colour purple - it's about information. And information delivery is where the game excels - whether it's giving you a handful of stats about your new weapon or it's telling you that you've just fired 48,402 of 50,000 bullets needed for a new 'Badass' rank, barely a second goes by where BL2 isn't telling you something new.
Information is everywhere. A player's gear now displays prominently about them - you can see on the character model what sort of shield they've got, what their class mod is, what guns they favour most. With the ability to customise skins and heads, players can now show off their progress through the game - or simply make their character look the way they feel.
The Badass rank system gives players a reason to chase otherwise pointless stat achievements by tying an incremental bonus to them. Say you kill 10,000 Skags (god help you) - that might be worth 10 Badass points! Badass points accrue across all players on your account - and the stat bonuses you buy with them are used by all your characters as well.
The implications of being able to pad stats by doing things in-game leads to even more theorycrafting, as you attempt to work out the most efficient way to boost any number of stats important to your current character. Maya, the Siren, can be extremely deadly with a boosted elemental efficiency - so it pays to boost elemental effect chance where ever you can. Axton, the Commando, has the potential to boost his Rocket Launcher damage significantly - so he'd benefit from faster reload speed and higher weapon damage.
You'll want to theorycraft each part of your character though, because the game can get extremely tough at times - mostly because most of the enemies in Borderlands 2 actually exhibit... AI. They flank, they call for help, they use grenades to get you out of your hidey hole.
Smaller enemies will use bigger, shielded enemies to close distance on you - and smarter enemies will use the likes of Psychos to take a breather and regain some shield. Boss fights are epic, but coming across a rare in the game world is usually far more terrifying - boss enemies telegraph their coming so you can prepare with adequate ammo and health, but if you come across a Super Badass Marauder on your way back to an ammo station, you'll seriously consider simply running away.
The new characters are once again treated like shells for the player to inhabit - though this time their roles are significantly less rigid. Where Roland's utility to a group in the first game was primarily as a support character, his BL2 counterpart Axton has a ludicrous amount of damage output - either as a glass cannon (when he takes the "Gunpowder" tree which culminates in a friggin' NUKE) or as a sustained DPS through the Guerilla or Survival classes.
Zer0, the Assassin, can specialise in the diametrically opposed sniping and melee attacks, Maya can crowd control or damage deal and Salvador, the midget Gunzerker is both a capable tank and a raging damage dealer (wielding two guns at the same time).
It's easy to see how each class is both an extension and an evolution of Borderlands characters - but that doesn't mean the first game's characters don't appear. Now that they're not simply vessels for the player character - Lilith, Brick, Mordecai and Roland have personalities, relationships and histories now. Roland and Lilith dated, even.
Everything has more personality - even (as if this were possible) CL4P-TP, the dancing robot from the first game. Considering the wealth of the characters on offer in Borderlands 2 - from the evil Handsome Jack, through Sir Hammerlock, past Wilhelm and on to classics like Moxxi and Scooter - I thought it would be hard to pick a breakout character, but Claptrap easily takes the cake.
As the last of the CL4P-TP series of robots he feels a special type of anger towards Handsome Jack - the game's main villain, and the man responsible for their termination... and as long as there are no stairs to get in his way, he possesses an uncannily single-minded focus for killing the president of the Hyperion corporation. The writing for all the characters is exemplary though - and it won't be until your second playthrough that you begin to appreciate the depth of it.
Yes, the New Game + feature is back. More than that - it's a necessity if you ever want to reach level 50, the current level cap. I'm not going to tell you that the real experience begins on playthrough two, because that's a horseshit concept - but those of you worried about treading the same ground over and over needn't worry, because questing has been expertly refined.
On your first playthrough you'll find you have quickly outlevelled a number of the sidequests you come across - rendering them pointless (unless you really just like shooting things). On your second playthrough though, these sidequests should either start to become a necessity, or you can simply not do the other sidequests you did last time and do these instead.
The same options are available to you when you start a new character - though there aren't infinite quests, so you'll eventually find that you've done everything available at least once.
The idea of outlevelling the area you're in becomes more attractive when you factor in that the enemy difficulty ramps up even further in your second playthrough - a significant feat, when you realise how hard some of the later enemies are on your first run.
All of this you can get out of the game solo - but Borderlands is a series best played with friends - and Borderlands 2 refines this to perfection. Loot is still a free-for-all, making every battle a careful balance between killing the enemies and running around trying to get all the loot. If you stop in the middle of fighting a Constructor to go get some purpz and return in time to then steal all the loot from said robot, you've basically reached black belt level loot ninja skillz.
Of course, a jilted coop buddy will demand satisfaction - and the duel action allows them to have it. Meleeing a friend allows the player to initiate a duel, as it did in the first game - but in BL2 there's a new option. If you fancy your skills you can put your money (or your loot) where your mouth is by initiating a trade, anteing up and selecting "Duel" instead of "Trade". The winner gets everything the players put on the table - the loser gets made fun of endlessly (or until they win the next duel).
On top of this you can add a spectacular balance of increased difficulty and loot quality while playing with friends (or strangers), a vehicle very early on that lets you seat four people and (of course) another epic raid boss you'll need four people to beat - and the simple fact that everything is more fun with friends - and it's plainly obvious that Borderlands 2 nails multiplayer even better than its predecessor did.
I couldn't find a fault with Borderlands 2. It's expertly paced, cleverly written, gorgeously refined and beautifully executed. What surprised me the most is the sheer level of detail involved. Personalised character elements, the duel for loot system and the depth of your skill tree customisation makes playing for yourself more satisfying than ever. Symbiotic AI and meta-challenge systems give you more reason to fight on. And a combination of loot-chasing and story make Borderlands 2 a must own.
Snaked a copy of this yesterday morning. Seems pretty good, have put a couple hours into it.
Playing it in 3D, works good but it isn't 3D vision ready like some people were claiming.
There are a couple shadow issues that can be fixed with a user patch. Some of the puddles of blood don't render at the correct depth. There is no fix for this yet.