Game Review: Borderlands 2
It’s been five long years since The Vault was opened. During that time, Handsome Jack has made Pandora his new playground in the hopes of opening yet another Vault. Amid the chaos Jack is creating, more Vault Hunters have come to the planet in search of fame and glory.
You’re gonna need guns — lots of guns.
A lot has changed on the face of Pandora, as pretty much all of the familiar places from the last game have been destroyed thanks to Handsome Jack’s little mining operation. You see, Jack doesn’t like anyone getting in the way of his plans and tends to lean towards the side of overkill when dealing with them. With all his money and the backing of the Hyperion Corporation, Jack was able to completely waylay the original four Vault Hunters. This is where the new kids come in, and where the game starts.
After all the backstory and the awesome intro, that the rest of the game tries its best to one-up the first game. You get your choice of characters, and could go with Axton, the Commando; Maya, the Siren; Salvador, the Gunzerker; or Zer0 the
Number Assassin. If you played the last game, then you already know what to expect from Axton, more or less, but the others change things up even more.
Maya, unlike Lilith, does not phase shift and instead creates a Phaselock that holds enemies frozen. Salvador’s ability lets him dual-wield any two guns for some pretty awesome damage, especially if you happen to use two rocket launchers. Zer0’s ability is much like Lilith’s, though he also creates a clone of himself to distract the enemies while cloaking, which leads to some pretty satisfying stealth kills. I really like how each character has shades of those from the first game, but they definitely bring their own style to the table.
As mentioned before, familiar places are not something you are going to see much of in this game. Familiar faces, though, are another story and you’ll be taking quests from some of the characters you know and love from the last game. Pretty much all of the old gang is back, and there are some new characters that have been added to the mix who fit in quite well. Overall, the game seems to have a bit of more life to it, which was something the last game was seriously lacking in.
Graphically, the game looks about on par with Borderlands and retains the same visual style. There are some added effects here and there that will be a noticeable difference to anyone who recently played the first game, but nothing that will immediately grab your attention. For me, this was fine as I liked the look of the last game. Musically, though, the game doesn’t always deliver in the way I feel it should, and I make mention of this as the guys who did the soundtrack (Jesper Kyd, Sacha Dikiciyan and Cris Velassco) all worked on some really awesome soundtracks. The soundtrack for this game just doesn’t really offer more than background ambiance and half the time I forget there is even music at all. I do have to say that it’s a fair bit better than the soundtrack to the last game, which I felt was pretty boring. I don’t hate the music for this game, but if you look at these guys’ credentials, you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Gameplay is pretty much everything you’d expect, though the menus are a lot more frustrating than I remember them being in the last game. I’m not sure that the removal of fall damage and the addition of extra heads and skins really makes up for that. The main focus, as it should be, is clearly on the weaponry that the game has in droves. There are so many guns that you will most likely never get the same gun in a second playthrough. Even if you get the same gun, it will have stats that may make it seem like a different gun. The look and the feel of each one has been much improved and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a gun you won’t think looks awesome.
The menus are not the only low point I find in the game, and in fact they are far less annoying than the number of times I’ve died trying to do a mission that was supposedly for my level. This is clearly a game that was made for four people to play, even more so than games like Left 4 Dead. Enemies pop out of monster closets, or from outside of the map, and can easily waylay the player from all sides. This leads to respawning at a point that is generally nowhere near where they died, or right near the action. In many cases, more enemies will show up once the initial group has been dealt with, and you’ll spend the first part of this new fight scrambling for ammo. This, obviously, wouldn’t be a problem if you have three friends that are going to be around to play with you through the whole ordeal… but that isn’t always going to be the case.
Despite the few gripes I have with the game, the writing is top-notch and it really drove me to want to play more. It’s been a long while since I played an FPS that I actually got upset with due to things that happened in the story, or ran into a bad guy I wanted to kill from the get-go.
If you are a fan of the first game, or of Diablo-styled games that have a good narrative, then this is your game. You don’t even need to play the first game to understand this one, so there is no reason not to dive right in.
GO Rating: 4/5