In late 2009, Borderlands was released to the fans gripping them with exciting co-op and as many guns as you can imagine. While not a perfect game by any means, Borderlands built up a good following and had many successful DLC packs, allowing for a sequel to be released. Fast forward to now, Gearbox is at it again bringing us Borderlands 2 touting 870 gajillion guns, a more in depth story, and new classes; and I am happy to say they have succeeded.
In the first Borderlands, there were four classes: Brick the Berserker, Lillith the Siren, Mordecai the Hunter, and Roland the Soldier. While these characters return as NPCs, this game introduces four new characters: Salvador the Gunzerker, Maya the Siren, Axton the Commando, and Zer0 the Assassin Class. While I spent time with all of them, the person I played the most was Axton the Commando. Each class has a special ability ranging from a turret to briefly going invisible to do massive damage. Out of all of the classes, the Deception ability from Zer0 was the most fun. Depending on how you spec him out you can do ridiculous critical hit damage or even chain together kills to keep you in deception for a long period of time. Playing alone, the way you spec only impacts your game due to your preference, but playing with friends is where specs really come into play. In the few opportunities I had to play co-op, the way you build up your character can help your team. For example, I threw down two turrets that created shields to help protect our team while also regenerating our ammo. I also experimented with more attack-based combat by increasing my damage and having my turrets fire missiles. I really enjoy the new Badass Ranks system which replaces weapon proficiency from Borderlands. When you achieve a new Badass Rank you unlock a Badass Token that allows you to unlock a buff for your character. You gain Badass rank by completing milestones like killing enemies during the night or getting certain amounts of kills on different types of enemies. Given the many different ways you can spec your characters, each class is very unique and fun to play.
One of my biggest gripes in the original Borderlands was the lack of a deep and gripping story. While the original introduced some interesting characters, it was hard to feel invested in them because of how quickly you moved on from them. Luckily, in Borderlands 2 this has turned on its heels. There are many long quest lines that get you well acquainted with the characters and have meaningful outcomes. For players of the original game, many characters such as Scooter, Mad Moxxi, Dr. Zed, and Marcus Kincaid return to give you quest. The addition of a very polarizing antagonist, Handsome Jack, is one of the main contributions to a more complex story-line. The storyline of your objective against Handsome Jack has some great turns that even surprised me at some points and made me want to know what happens. There were some moments in the story line that genuinely made me feel disappointed and motivated to take down the evil power that is Handsome Jack.
The gameplay in Borderlands 2 remained relatively the same with only some minor differences. The gunplay in the game feels relatively unchanged. It may be a bit more responsive. All of the guns shoot and feel the way they should; even the more unique ones like the guns you throw at enemies once you empty the clip. The guns are one of the more improved things in Borderlands 2. In the original, you would find lots of guns, but they all felt the same and weren’t very unique. Now each manufacturer has a unique look and feel to the guns and heavily influence the way you play. Using a good combination of weapon types and elemental types of weapons, you should be in good control of every battle. The AI of the enemies in the original game were heavily criticized and I feel it is one of the few things that hasn’t improved that much. While there are many unique types of enemies who change the way you fight against them, you rarely have to face them with other types of enemies. This makes defeating them quite easy. After finding the best way to defeat an enemy they will never be hard to defeat again. My only other complaint is the lack of fun boss fights. While all the boss fights fit thematically into the game, none of them were very hard to defeat. Usually, the only reason it was difficult was because the boss had a massive life bar that took time to take down. Also returning to Borderlands 2 is the Catch-A-Ride system that allows you to get across areas by vehicles. This system is left relatively untouched aside from adding a new type of car that fits all four characters. The cars still drive very loosely, but they are still fun to hop in and drive around. Despite these few flaws the game is still very fun to play.
I was sucked in to spending endless hours on the game, devoting around 38 hours into my main character completing a majority of the quests. While I didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked in the multiplayer co-op, it still works great with an easy drop-in and drop-out style. The only problem is that if you are over-leveled or under-leveled, the game doesn’t scale to you. With lots of opportunity for replay in True Vault Hunter Mode (which helps you continue leveling to 50 and gives you better loot as well as the ability to go back through the game with any character) I can see myself playing for a while. There is also the task of killing Terramorphous, a Level 50 boss, that is extremely difficult. From the very compelling story, ridiculous amounts of loot, and hours upon hours of co-op fun, Borderlands is a must pick-up for any avid video game player.
Borderlands 2 gets a 5/5