Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Rating Guide: How I Review Games
The first Borderlands was a sneaky little gem that no one saw coming. I still consider it to have one of the finest intros in a video game. And it’s probably one of the few games that I continued to enjoy even years after its release. The game was just full of damn good fun. When Borderlands 2 was announced I was excited to see where Gearbox Software would take it and how it would improve. Most sequels fail to deliver what the original did but this game is one of the few exceptions.
Borderlands 2 is the sloppy seconds that you just can’t help but enjoy over and over. The Xbox 360 has had a lot of sequels but this one stands near the top of them all.
Gameplay, Graphics and Sound
Let’s just dig right in shall we?! Borderlands 2 brings back that age old addiction of loot, story and more loot. I don’t think there are many who would say that they didn’t play the original to get as much loot as possible and rinse/repeat over and over. This time there are character skins you can gain, Eridium, heads and yeah .. MORE GUNS. The guns in the game have gone under a really impressive change. They’re much more detailed and they stand out as unique items depending on the vendor. I couldn’t really grasp much difference between vendors in the first game but Gearbox has done a great job in truly making the weapons shine. And trust me you’ll need them because the things you fight are bigger and badder this time. The weapons themselves take on the role of a character themselves since they’re so important and improved.
I could go on and on about the loot and the weapons in this game but I won’t. The loot and the weapons just work and they work very, very well. What I do want to talk about briefly is the story of Borderlands 2 and how you’ll be making your way through the game. I admit that I didn’t pay much attention to the story in the first game. Gearbox has at least tried to remedy that with a pretty interesting campaign centered around the shenanigans of Handsome Jack, the Hyperion Corporation leader. There are four new Vault Hunters to choose from as you partake on this battle. You can choose the Commado (Axton), Gunzerker (Salvador), Assassin (Zer0) or Siren (Maya).
“Gearbox Software has me wanting more.”
The story boils down to you having to stop Jack, rescue/help the old crew from the first game and make all things right in Pandora again. Because of the skipping I did through the first game, I’ve really tried to carefully take in the story this time. You won’t begin to appreciate the talent at Gearbox Software until you soak in all of the dialogue between the main quests and side quests. It is hilarious, witty and just very good. The humor and direction in the game is second to none.
At the heart of Pandora now is Sanctuary. It’s your home away from the wasteland so to speak. Gearbox opted to create a city that acts as the central hub and resting spot for you to find new missions, store loot etc. I’m not sure I was that thrilled about this choice but it works. Travel in the game is easy enough that it doesn’t become a hassle going back to the storage spot over and over.
One of the things I wanted to point out as I go back to loot unexpectedly is that I would’ve really loved it if Gearbox had decided to use a Diablo III style loot system in which you only see your own loot. Borderlands 2 (like the original) almost becomes a race to click the X button between players. Now if you have some quality people you’re playing with it’s not an issue but when I play with my little brother his little bad ass is always trying to steal my loot! You share money, Eridium but you don’t share loot. It’s an easy fix if you play with someone who plays the right way but like I said it would’ve been nice to adjust the loot system a bit.
Visually, Borderlands 2 looks great. It’s crisp, fresh and detailed. The world is vast and you’ll have plenty of real estate to work with. I still applaud the choice of the developers to go for the cell shaded comic look as opposed to how Borderlands was originally supposed to look. The menu system has undergone an impressive overall. You can easily manage your weapons, quests, map and skills. I was happy to have a menu system that allowed me to quickly get to my character’s ability points and then back to weapons all without scrolling.
I was a little disappointed in the fact that they short changed you on actual customization. I know it’s a first person shooter and you don’t see your character much but when you do, it would’ve been nice to really customize your character. As it stands, you can only choose from predetermined sets for your head and outfit.
I want to quickly point out the Bad Ass Rank system that’s new to the game. There are several (and I mean several) little challenges throughout the game that when completed will give you Bad Ass Rank points to use on attributes. You can spend the points to improve a range of attributes so pay attention to how much of a Bad Ass you are because it gets rewarded.
Xbox LIVE Extras
Borderlands 2 doesn’t have any team deathmatch modes or capture the flag. The Xbox LIVE extras consist solely of cooperative play with friends and it is amazing. You can choose to have your game be joinable or restrict it to invite only. The experience and how how you want to control your co-op journey is up to you.
One of the complaints about the first game was that you couldn’t play split screen online. Thankfully Gearbox has changed that and now you can save a little bit of money on dishing out for multiple consoles and Xbox Live Gold.
Borderlands 2 does a fantastic job with improving what irked me about the first game. No longer do you have to watch a friend enjoy some co-op online play because there’s split screen now. No longer do you have to scroll to get to options because the menu has been revamped. It’s a solid improvement over the first one and a very worthy sequel. Gearbox Software has me wanting more.
The replay value is once again very high because you’ll more than likely want to have a few different character classes all tapped out. Did I mention the loot? That’s about 60 more hours of fun alone! Welcome to Pandora again … it’s time to get loot or die tryin’!