Borderlands 2 Review

Borderlands-2-XBOX360-iMARS.jpg

By Daniel Murtha

The Borderlands franchise is about as unique as games come in this modern gaming era where everything is some sort of Call of Duty knockoff.  The developers at Gearbox took the loot mentality from point-and-click RPG’s, character progression and level up system from RPG’s, first person perspective and action of an FPS and mixed in some cel-shaded graphics.  The result is a product greater than the sum of its parts, and that’s just the first Borderlands game.  Borderlands 2 improves on its predecessor in every way.

The main improvement in Borderlands 2 is the story.  The first Borderlands had a mildly interesting and somewhat disjointed story, with no real villain and an enormously disappointing ending.  BL2 introduces nemesis Handsome Jack, the evil CEO of Hyperion Corporation, right at the beginning of the game. He wastes no time attempting to have you killed. As the game progresses Handsome Jack’s actions become more egregious and shocking, giving the player a real reason to want to no-scope headshot Jack at the earliest opportunity.  The story takes some unexpected twists and turns that are both entertaining and memorable, add in some other fantastic characters and you have a positively delightful experience.  Here are my thoughts:

borderlands-2-review-4.jpg

LIKES:

CHARACTERS: Two words: Tiny Tina.  The 13 year old demolitions expert stands out in a cast of awesome characters.  Handsome Jack is a detestable villain and the vault hunters from the first game are fleshed out as NPC’s in Borderlands 2.  Scooter returns as well with some... interesting side missions involving potential love mates.

STORY: As I said above, Gearbox addressed the primary complaint from the first Borderlands by crafting a much more intriguing storyline.  Many of the side missions also add some background to the main story.  For example, one side mission has the player tracking down ECHO recorders that document Handsome Jack’s rise to power in Hyperion. 

GUNS:  More guns!  Lots of guns!  Gearbox does a great job offering a plethora of new weapons and does a much better job this time differentiating between the various  weapon manufacturers.  Tediore guns, for example, don’t reload like other weapons. Instead, you throw them at the enemy causing a grenade-like explosion and a new fully loaded one respawns in your hands.  Pretty sweet.

DISLIKES:

Much like Guild Wars 2, Borderlands 2 doesn’t have anything I dislike. If I’m forced to pick something it would be the:

RAKK!: The rakk are obnoxious in Borderlands 2.  If you hated them in the first game, they’re far worse in the second.  They seem to spread out much more, attack at different times and almost never group together like they did in the first Borderlands.  Sometimes I would spend 10-15 minutes just taking out a group of rakk just so they would not slowly peck me to death.

B1.jpg

CONCLUSION:

If you liked the first Borderlands, Borderlands 2 is a must buy, and a must buy for fans of shooters and RPGs as well.  The new and improved storyline combined with unique cel-shaded graphics makes for a fantastically well rounded game.  Great action, fun co-op, and memorable characters make Borderlands 2 a front runner for game of the year.  It’s also one of the few games that literally has laugh-out-loud moments in it.  A masterpiece no doubt, and so good that I’ll probably end up buying the Season Pass for all the DLC, despite my typical stance against it.  Well done, Gearbox.

SCORE:

9.9-Probably as close as I’ll ever come to giving a game a perfect score, but there weren’t any bugs that I came across either.  That kind of polish is seldom seen in this era of gaming.

Borderlands 2 podcast episode