Borderlands 2 is a sleeker, more polished version of the original that doesn’t deviate too far from what made the first game great.
This isn’t an indictment on the game, because Gearbox did a whole lot right to begin with, but if you weren’t a fan of this series already there isn’t a whole lot in this game that will change your mind.
For the uninitiated, Borderlands is Diablo III meets Fallout. It’s a loot-and-grab RPG masquerading as a first person shooter where killing hordes of bad guys yields loot, which allows you to kill even more powerful bad guys and thus acquire even better loot to enhance your character.
The frenetic pace of gunplay is what made Borderlands great and the second title offers much of the same. Collecting weapons is the backbone of this game and there is a seemingly endless variety of guns to unleash on your opponents.
Weapons manufactured by different companies carry certain attributes like extended clips, faster fire rates and even elemental damage. Combine that with the different classes of guns and you have a myriad of weapons to test that always keeps the experience fresh. There are also mods that can be picked up to enhance your grenades and even certain attributes of your character.
The character classes in Borderlands 2 function much the same way as the original. The skill trees for each character class encourages the use of certain weapons, which allows you to tailor your character to a specific play style. The Assassin is perfect for long range and covert strikes, while the Commando is built for defensive battles with the turret skill. The Siren emphasizes movement and elemental weapons while the Gunzerker is a tank with the ability to dual wield weapons.
The character classes have been tweaked from the original game. Most notably, the Siren’s Phaseshift skill has been replaced by Phaselock, which allows you to freezes a single enemy rather than go into super speed. The Assassin is a blend of the Berserker and Hunter from Borderlands 1 emphasizing long range attacks and the ability to use decoys in order to score critical hits.
The appeal of Borderlands 2 lay in its versatility. The weapons you acquire and choose to use combined with character class will dictate the way you play. That shotgun using explosive rounds may fit quite nicely with the run-and-gun type, while that elemental sniper rifle firing shock bullets might suit somebody that likes to control the battlefield from afar.
It’s satisfying to find the right gun for your play style and pursuit of that perfect gun is ultimately what drives the multiplayer experience. Multiplayer is built to encourage group looting. Drops are randomized so that weapon chests may contain a pile of crap or the gun of your dreams, but playing with others increases your chances of finding better weapons.
Playing online is an intimate experience with just four people per game, but it’s more to emphasize cooperative play rather than player vs. player battles. Any money you collect makes its way to the entire group and enemies become stronger whenever more people join the game. Stronger enemies and provide opportunities for better weapon drops and a more challenging experience.
Borderlands 2 doesn’t take itself too seriously with a cel shaded look and a comic book feel that rounds the edges off an otherwise doom-and-gloom story. There are plenty of colorful characters that will keep you entertained throughout the main storyline. The antagonist Handsome Jack certainly acts the part with a veneer of charm to match his megalomania and Sir Hammerlock is a caricature of British big game hunters with the monocle, expedition gear and a mechanical arm. Also, heroes from the first game also make a return allowing you the opportunity to figure out what happened to them.
Gearbox did a great job of cleaning up some minor flaws in the first game while maintaining the spirit if its predecessor. The inclusion of a minimap in the left corner makes exploration easier and improvements to the cel shaded character designs makes the game look much better.
Bottomline, Borderlands 2 is a title that will satiate any fan of the original and with upcoming DLC content on the way, there will be plenty of opportunities to loot in the future.