Borderlands 2 is one of the biggest releases this holiday season, partially because it is a follow up to the cult hit Borderlands, and partially because there are surprisingly few games coming out this holiday season with the majority being pushed back for the February rush. Along with the release of Diablo 3 and Torchlight 2, Borderlands 2 makes this a very loot-filled year for gamers. Borderlands 2 is a loot driven first person shooter RPG made by Gearbox, who is best know, coincidentally, for Borderlands. Gearbox has recently picked up the Duke Nukem mantle and they are the ones who finally managed to bring Duke Nukem Forever to the light of day. Borderlands 1 met with a lot of applause for its, eventual, sense of humour and loot driven mechanics, but also a lot criticism for bland sidequests and a general lack of focus in its story. The question is whether or not Borderlands 2 managed to improve upon the formula or if it fell down on the job like so many sequels to cult games.
|This guy loves henna|
Borderlands 1 was a game that simply didn’t have focus until the release of the DLC. After the release of the DLC, Borderlands 1 was able to really define what kind of game it wanted to be, and that game is very, very, very silly. The humour that was hinted at in the main storyline really came into its own with the release of the Zombie Island of Dr. Ned and The Secret Armoury of General Knoxx. Borderlands 2 is a considerably stronger game just because it knows what it wants to be from the get go. Fortunately for the world, what it wants to be isn’t the rather mundane main game of Borderlands 1, but the insane, and childish hilarity of the DLC. Borderlands 2 is one of the funniest games I’ve ever played. No, you will not find sophisticated humour, but the humour is very endearing. Whether it is a zoologist renaming a type of animal “Bonerfarts” to spite his publisher, or an explosive obsessed foul mouthed preteen, Borderlands 2 is a funny, funny game, and that alone sets it apart from the crowd.
|Actual quote in reference to a stuffed bunny sitting on a missile:
“That’s Mushy Snugglebite’s badonkadonk. She’s my main squeeze. Lady’s got a gut fulla’ dynamite and a booty like POW.”
In conjunction with the focus on humour, the main storyline has been seriously improved. Gearbox had claimed that they were going to bring a much better story this time around, and like many people, I didn’t believe them. However, for the most part, they succeeded. The story drags a little at the end, but they manage to create a whole cast of interesting, loveable characters, and infuse some real drama into the game. The biggest fault with the story is that it is so focused on the last game’s cast and the villain Handsome Jack, that the stellar supporting cast gets left behind around midway through. Fortunately, the old main cast have real personalities now, and Jack is an excellent villain, both horrific and hilarious at the same time.
|Just in case you didn’t know.|
The sidequests are some of the highlights of the game because they focus more on the supporting cast. Unlike the severely uninteresting sidequests of the last game, there is plenty of hilarious dialogue involved in these quests to make them worth doing for that alone. Most quests, like the last game, are started from a mission board; however, a good number of them require you to talk to a particular character to start it. This doesn’t make a huge difference, but it does make some quests far more personal than just picking them en masse from a mission board. A lot of sidequests branch into further quests, which creates mini storylines, which are entertaining.
The playable characters are no more interesting than the last game, which is a little disappointing. Three of the four characters are basically identical to three from the last game. The fourth is Salvador the Gunzerker. He can dual wield guns and isn’t amazingly special, but he embodies the humour present in the rest of the game more than the other characters, who are simply boring. Each character has a special skill and three passive skill trees that can be developed as they level up, which is one of the major RPG elements of the game. New to the game are badass ranks. These are very minor rewards for completing in-game achievements usually involving killing a certain amount of enemies in a particular way. These rewards carry over to each character and they are cumulative. These are fun to collect, but have little effect on the game as the bonuses are too low unless you play through with multiple characters (Which you should).
|All those badass ranks will payoff when the fifth character is released next month.|
The gameplay is more or less identical to the first Borderlands. The shooting is fun, the loot is plentiful. It is unfortunate that there aren’t any new ideas on this front, but the gameplay was one of Borderlands 1’s strongest aspects. There is a new type of elemental damage called Slag, which causes enemies to take more damage when they are affected. Some of the enemy variants are back from the first game, such as the dog-like Skags and the irritating Rakks, but there are many new types of enemies. These enemy types are varied enough to keep the game fresh with different defences such as armour and shields that are susceptible to different elemental attacks.
|Come on, give it a hug!|
Borderlands 2, honestly, is better in every conceivable way than the original Borderlands. There is literally no way that Borderlands 1 is superior. However, that doesn’t mean the game is perfect. Gearbox takes very few risks with the game and the gameplay and loot mechanics generally haven’t changed at all. This leads to a little bit of deja vu and I think that some, even minor changes to the formula would have been welcome. Despite this minor complaint, Borderlands 2 really sets itself apart from all of the boring military shooters and is definitely worth the time.
– Surprisingly good story
– Great combat
– Addicting gameplay
– Very little changed from the last game
– Story slows down near the end
– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer