When the original Borderlands came out, gamers everywhere fell in love with it. There was just so much to ultimately enjoy – four distinct characters with great abilities, a vast world full of places to see, things to do, and people to kill – and the guns, one can not ever forget about the guns. Through the loot generation system that Gearbox put into place, we were treated to a first person shooter that had loot enough to make any Diablo fan blush. Now the game did have a few things that were missing (like a trade interface), but all in all they were minor issues at best. Now along comes Borderlands 2 sporting a new story, (mostly)new characters, some new updates, and of course – new guns. Does it live up to the quality of the original Borderlands, or has Gearbox tried to fix something that wasn’t broken?
First and foremost here, Borderlands 2 is rated “M” for a reason, and that reason isn’t just because of the blood and gore. If you don’t like crass humor, you probably aren’t going to get into the game very much. If the idea of a fictional character calling a pony made out of diamonds “butt stallion” in homage to you offends you in any way, you’re probably not going to want to pick this up. Likewise if you’re going to go all Sarah Palin when you hear the Torgue president shout in a radio that “You would have to be f*ck*ng retarded to use anything but a Torgue gun”, this may not be in your wheel house. Now for me, the writing had me literally laughing out loud at so many parts that I gave up trying to count them. I know most people are going to come into the game with the understanding that crass humor is a definite part of the Borderlands world, but I wanted to throw that little disclaimer out there for the uninitiated.
Now just like in the first go around, four Vault hunters find themselves on the planet Pandora, searching for a “second” vault. The game’s chief antagonist and head of Hyperion guns is Handsome Jack – a man who is a definite call out to Pavi Largo of “Repo! The Genetic Opera” (seriously, their faces are damn well identical). Handsome Jack swooped in when the heroes of the first Borderlands opened the Vault, and took credit for everything. With an army of Hyperion robots at your disposal though, you can probably get away with anything. The original four Vault hunters now displaced, they each go their own separate way and fight against Jack in different ineffective ways. The story has a number of twists and turns in it – some you can see coming for miles by the foreshadowing, but there are some that really jump out at you as well. For what it’s worth, I think the story in Borderlands 2 is far superior to the story in the original.
All the characters you remember from the original are back, and there are a good number more thrown in for good measure. Most characters are completely memorable like Scooter’s sister Ellie, who describes herself as 300lbs with a killer rack. Or Tiny Tina, who is a murderous thirteen year old girl and a savant when it comes to explosives. These and more will be there along your journey to keep you entertained. Along with more characters, Borderlands 2 has “more” of pretty much everything else as well. The maps are huge, with a lot more zones to go to and explore. Doing the side missions will easily double the amount of time needed to finish the story (it took me about 20 hours my first playthrough), and you can keep going back to fight different bosses for a chance at their Legendary loot. All in all to do everything (side quests on normal and True Vault Hunter mode) would take you 70+ hours.
Now one of the biggest complaints people had with the original Borderlands was that there was no kind of trade interface – you would have to drop and item and hope that no one else would pick it up before the intended recipient got it. You would also have to hope that the item in question didn’t bounce and get stuck in geometry. All of that has been addressed in Borderlands 2 though , and while the trading interface might not be perfect, it’s a hell of an improvement over that we didn’t have before. Another nice thing that we didn’t have before is “Badass Ranks”. These things are shared between every character you create, and are increased by completing different challenges. Get enough Badass Ranks and you get a Badass Token which you can redeem for bonuses that also apply to all of your characters. It’s a fun incentive to keep playing and trying new people.
As for the characters, you have a Siren (that plays completely differently than Lilith), a Commando (who is skill sets are fairly close to how Roland’s were), a Gunzerker (new character class, doesn’t play like Brick did at all), and a ninja-assassin type named ZerO. I played ZerO mostly because Mordekai was my main character in the original Borderlands, but the two are completely different. ZerO’s action skill is probably the one that I enjoyed the least in the game, but I stuck with him because it was a bit more challenging. I really can not wait to try out the Mechromancer character as soon as they release her, since she promises to be something completely different.
In the end, everything about Borderlands 2 is bigger and better than that of the original Borderlands, and I for one can not wait to see where they go with this franchise next. Gearbox has a definite hit here, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it win Game of the Year from at least a few places – hell, it already has my early vote for it. I know I will be spending quite a lot of time with this game still (Terramorphous is calling me back), and when the next DLC drops, you know where my time will be going.
Borderlands 2 Review (PS3)
- The loot generator that was introduced in Borderlands 1 is back again
- So much comedy that most people will be laughing their way through the story
- Character and monster design are stellar
- If you played the first one, some things that happen in the story will piss you off
- Can only trade five items at a time
- Backpack space again maxes out to 27
You can get a copy of Borderlands 2 for the XBOX 360, PC and PS3 from anywhere games are sold like Amazon for $59.99