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Borderlands 2 Review

by Diogo Miguel October 17, 2012

Borderlands was a surprise hit for Gearbox Software back when it launched. It’s quite difficult to think how the team went about improving it with the sequel. Could Borderlands 2 buck the trend by being better than the original?

Borderlands 2 is a lot more action oriented when compared to the original. There is always something to keep the player busy. A lot of the missions help flesh out the story and it’s fairly easy to continue progressing without getting stuck. What’s even better is the fact that missions are also enjoyable. This is down to how the player is made to complete objectives.

Most of the mission objectives consist of back tracking quests that require fetching or finding certain items/people. However, Borderlands 2 cleverly manages to engage the player with various set pieces, so it doesn’t feel tedious to have to go back and forth.

Most of the missions will see the character fulfil requests from other characters. These could consist of just about anything since goals are unique. The character could go up against a ruthless gang of thieves to retrieve equipment in one mission. Another mission could involve finding the most random of objects, such as crumpets. It’s unexpected ideas like this that makes Borderlands 2 so compelling from start to end.

Introducing the use of a vehicle fairly early into the story is a real time saver. The play areas are incredibly huge. It’s frightening to even consider what Borderlands 2 would have been like, if the only way to traverse long distances was on foot. But it’s also possible to quick travel between certain locations. Controlling the vehicle feels unnatural at first. This is because it is directed by making use of the right stick, which is also used to move the camera around. It becomes much easier to use a vehicle over time, but it never feels natural.

Easy to spot way points are essential in a video-game of this scope. The objective way points are not always easy to spot. Fortunately the player can still add a custom way point and so make it far easier to find a particular area.

Sometimes what makes or breaks a video-game is the cast of characters the player interacts with. Whilst the player controlled characters are not very talkative – the same doesn’t apply to the ones met along the way. Everyone should know the quirky thirteen year old Tiny Tina by now. This enthusiastic child is perhaps a perfect example of why taking requests from the characters in Borderlands 2 is always a pleasure. It’s certainly not every day that anyone is asked to gather items for the twisted version of Alice in Wonderland’s tea party.

Other original characters such as the brazen Ellie – who enjoys cuddling( but who doesn’t right?) and murder – make for some rather bizarre, but wonderful, conversations. The story might focus on the battle between the persistent Handsome Jack and the Vault Hunters, but these support characters give the man a run for his money. Not that the main plot isn’t interesting though. The almost comical interchanges between Handsome Jack with the character are fun to witness.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, Borderlands 2 is more than a straight up shooting experience. Killing enemies and completing missions will make it possible to earn experience and rank up levels. Baddass points are earned with every level up and are used to unlock new abilities. It’s possible to develop one or more of three skill trees. Each of the characters has completely different powers which makes it even more exciting. It literally means that every player could interact with the game in a different manner. This is possibly the perfect combination of a shooter with a role playing experience.

Off course that guns also play a major part in Borderlands 2 since they are used to defeat all the enemies trying to kill the character. Borderlands 2 boasts an impressive arsenal that will probably cover just about every type of weapon. It’s a shooting fanatic’s dream come true.

Taking part in fights is not a walk in the park. Specially when attempting to do it in solo mode since Borderlands 2 is at its best when played with a bunch of other players. However, it’s certainly satisfying to struggle and finally defeat a pesky enemy. Even more if it’s one of the insane boss battles, such as Boom and Bewm, who attempt to pulverise the character with bullets. The amount of enemy species to find is incredible and each will require a different strategy to successfully defeat it.

The controls for combat are extremely easy and even account for less experienced players. There is a health bar and a shield(that recharges) but dying will obviously happen at some point. Fortunately the characters is resuscitated if an enemy is killed during a countdown. But dying isn’t so bad either because it just means respawning at the nearest life machine. Maybe it’s being too lenient on players or it just wants them to have a good time.

The world of Borderlands 2 is one of the biggest in its genre. It’s literally breathtaking to step out of the initial introductory area and explore some of the later areas. Each area is completely different with its own theme. Each area will also look different as the sun gradually sets and rises. This is truly the sort of video-game that is making the most of the current generation hardware.

It’s not just the visuals that will leave players mesmerised. There are plenty of small details to find while playing. Amusing lines such as “Rise from your Grave” – which is referring to the Sega cult video-game Altered Beast – shows that the development team are true gamers. Borderlands 2 is a product made for true gamers by an equally bunch of devoted gamers. The many references to other video-games is but one of the reasons why Borderlands 2 deserves all the recent attention.

There is much to discuss when it comes to Borderlands 2, like the fact that the town of Sanctuary serves as a handy hub or the mental way characters are introduced. However, what truly matters is that Borderlands 2 is an incredible video-game and one of those rare occasions where the sequel is even better than the original.

So step right inside because Gearbox Software is taking you on one of the best rides of 2012. Borderlands 2 is amazing in every sense and will certainly set some high expectations for similar video-games not yet released.

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