Game Reviewed: Borderlands 2
Release Date: September 18th, 2012
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Platform(s): [Reviewed: Xbox 360], Playstation 3 & PC
Genre: First person Shooter
Rated: M for Mature (17+)
Finally fans of Borderlands can get their hands on the newest title in the series Borderlands 2 which released today. The original Borderlands released in October 2009 making the wait a ridiculously long 3 years. And all though it felt like an eternity I can guarantee that Gearbox has made it more than worth the wait.
In Borderlands 2 fans will find themselves on a journey to save “Pandora” from the likes of an evil, although handsome character; Handsome Jack. Handsome Jack is a dispicable-ly brilliant and charismatic CEO of the Hyperion Corporation. But don’t let his good looks fool you he is really up to no good and it is your job, as one of four playable characters, to stop Jack from awakening the evil known as “the Warrior”.
Players will be able to choose one of four characters; Zero, Maya, Axton, and Salvador, and take on Handsome Jack in either the single player mode or the multiplayer mode with up to four of their friends. And although Borderlands 2 is immaculate in EVERY aspect of the word, multi-palyer is where it is at.
The graphics in Borderlands 2 are beautiful. They may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I just can’t get enough of games with cel-shaded graphics. I love the sketched, cartoony, yet realistic look of Borderlands 2 and it adds such character to the game that no other game has achieved. It is very reminiscent of my childhood when I enjoyed cartoons and comic books.
Along with the stunning graphics you have the simplicity of the controls and gameplay. Everything is straight forward and easy to learn and you are guided through everything as you play. Never once did I have to refer to menu to check out the controls. It is a simple collect the quest; which can be found via its obvious yellow exclamation mark (!), complete the quest, and then turn the quest in for your reward to the yellow question mark (?) type of game. Your “current” quest can be found on the upper right hand side of your screen and your mini-map guides you to the location you need to complete it. If you want to change your quest you simply go to your menu screen and using the LB or RB scroll through the options to the quests, where you can select which ever one you want to complete. As you complete the tasks associated to the quest they are automatically checked off and then once complete it says “TURN IN” in bright green writing. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
If you love choices then you will love Borderlands 2, at least when it comes to character selection, character skills and character upgrades. You have the choice to play either Zero; an Assassin who is equipped with a sword and the ability to deceive his enemies via a holographic decoy, Maya; a Siren that is a tattoo’d tenacious woman with the ability to Phaselock her enemies, Axton; a deadly yet somehow polite Commando with an EPIC Scorpio Turret, and last but not least Salvador; a duo wielding Gunzerker.
Next are the skill tree options. With each character is the ability to customize your own skills to your own liking, with some exceptions. Each character has 3 trees which all very among each other as well as among each character. As you play through the campaign you earn XP which helps you level. As you level you earn “Skill tree points”. These points can then be used to select special skills that are unique to your character. Like many other games, Borderlands 2 uses “progressive unlocking”. This meaning you can’t unlock skills at the bottom first. You must work your way down to the bottom of the skill trees.
The choices however don’t end here. As you play you can also acquire “BadAss Tokens”. Badass tokens are acquired by completing in game “challenges”. These challenges are separate from main campaign quests and side quests, and come in levels. As you complete the challenges they level up until you reach the max level of 5. These challenges include things such as killing a certain number of a certain type of enemy and using abilities that are unique to your character, like the Phaselock ability for the Siren. You can then redeem your badass tokens for “Bonus Stats” for your character. These stats range from increased health and increased Shield to increased re-load speed, increased aim accuracy and decreased recoil. It must be noted that not all possible in game bonus stats show up when redeeming Badass tokens, there are only 5 to choose from at any given time.
Just like in the previous Borderlands you will have some very welcome and familiar aspects as well as a few and much needed improvements. First of all you will notice the return of the lovable and funny robot Claptrap. Claptrap is back to help you along your travels, provide you with a few laughs and on occasion annoy you. But lets be honest here, Borderlands just wouldn’t be Borderlands without that silly little robot.
Secondly you will notice the return of both vendors and vending machines. On more occasions than not you will spend your time pumping your hard earned money into the vending machines rather than spending one on one time with an actual in game character. Just like in the original title the vending machines come in 3 types, Dr. Zed’s Meds; for all your health needs, Ammo Dump; to purchase that much needed ammunition and grenades, and the Guns; were not to state the obvious you can buy NEW guns. Keep in mind these vendors are not every where and are not always all together, so you are going to want to stock up on those much needed items whenever you have a chance. These vending machines also come with a handy “Sell” feature to lighten your burden or simply get rid of that lower level junk you no longer need. And have no worries if you accidentally sell an item there is a buy back feature.
Next you have the return of those much need vehicle stations. If you plan on getting anywhere any time quick you are going to need to learn how to drive. Don’t worry though it is extremely easy and fun as you can customize your vehicles. You can choose which ever color you like as well as preferred attached weapon. And as you play you will unlock new vehicle options through quests.
I can happily report that along with the return of these awesome features you will also find some new ones. The first thing I noticed was that Gearbox included a MINI-Map this time around. I personally am ecstatic about the new map. It shows markers for literally everything. You can see enemies via a standard red dot, as well as markers for quests and markers for vendors. This is not to say I was annoyed at the lack of it in the original title, but rather I think that a mini-map is just more convenient and simple. Next you will notice some loot improvements. Although for the most part the loot is the same, being that it is randomly dropped, I noticed some improvements when picking it up. In the first Borderlands I often found myself aiming my gun down and having to move my character around a lot to be able to pick it up. This time around I have not noticed any issues and love the fact that my character automatically picks up money and any needed ammunition.
As mentioned earlier Borderlands 2 is immaculate in EVERY sense of the word. And I really mean it. Borderlands 2 is the first game I have played that I have NOT had one single complaint. I am happy with every single aspect of it. It has beautiful graphics, easy controls, and awesome character customizations. I especially love the 4 player co-op campaign mode and prefer it to your standard multi-player modes of other games. In my opinion Borderlands 2 offers so much that it doesn’t need anything else. Let’s not forget about the hours and hours of game time. Not only is there the main story quests but there are piles of side quests and the simple fact that there are 4 completely different and unique characters to play there is no way you will not get your monies worth.
If you haven’t started playing Borderlands 2 yet, what are waiting for?
Replay ability: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5