Borderlands 2 is absolutely everything it needs to be.
The biggest, baddest, and most awesome game of 2012. Borderlands 2 takes the idea of a sequel and amps it up rather dramatically. Borderlands 2 might be very similar to the original Borderlands, but that is all it needed to be. It goes over and above by taking everything about the start of the amazing co-op RPG shooter and injects a volatile level of win.
All of what I loved about Borderlands is here. The leveling, the skill trees, the characters, the co-op, the hilarious dialogue, and oh lord the guns. So many guns. An outrageous amount of guns. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
With a brand new cast of interesting characters, the more developed skill trees in Borderlands 2, the characters are even more fun to create, level, and customize. Players choose between the Gunzerker, an evolution of the Berserker, which substitutes dual wielding fists for dual wielding any two guns in the game. The new Siren drops the phasewalk ability for phaselock, which allows her to incapacitate an enemy on the battlefield. Zero takes phasewalk and amps it up, allowing him to deploy a decoy and sneak in, unleashing a super powered attack. Finally the new commando brings the turret to the next level, with a very dynamic set of skills that are far superior to the turret in the first game.
Fans will be ecstatic to hear that there is indeed a story in Borderlands 2. While not amazing, it still is something, and I actually had a lot of fun with it. After the events of Borderlands, Handsome Jack overtook the Hyperion Corporation which replaced Atlus as the dominate evil on Pandora. Handsome Jack rules over Pandora with an iron fist as he searches for a vault that actually has treasure in it, killing any Vault Hunter along the way. Luckily, you survive, and are tasked with taking him down and finding the vault.
On your way through this long adventure of side quests, many enemies will fall, some exploding, and millions of guns will pass through your hands. With 87 Bazillion guns (a whole Bazillionty more than last time), there will never be a shortage of new loot to explore. That is what Borderlands is made to be, an all out, high-octane loot fest that will satisfy the dopamine levels of any gamer for a very long time.
It’s addictive qualities is part of what makes Borderlands 2 a must-play. There is that complete satisfaction that follows behind turning in every one of the game’s 100+ missions, from growing a level, or finding a gun that is that much better than the one you are already wielding. With hot lead zooming through your fingers into hostile loaders as numbers fly through the air and that big red CRITICAL marker popping up in such a congratulatory fashion, the combat is totally satisfying as well.
In between the stellar combat and frequent loot is the game’s signature humor. While not inherently deep, it has that comedic quality that makes it just as worth tuning into than the deepest of Bioshocks. Scooter, Crazy Earl, Tannis, and even more minor characters from the first game made their way back into the pens of the Gearbox staff. Their dialogue and character interactions are often hysterical. Some might be happy to know that Scooter’s catchphrase is back in full swing. Conversely, some might be upset to know that Claptrap is also back, and in more presence than the last game. I found him more charming this time around, though still incessant. In addition, some of the references tend to be old and tired out, but a game with so much fresh humor can have a few issues in joke choice overlooked.
In other good news the visuals in Borderlands 2 are a huge improvement, but still have a long way to go. Faces don’t look nearly as silly anymore (the imprint of TK Baha’s face in Borderlands 1 will still remain firmly in my mind). The world comes in much more vibrant color. While the first game took place on the drab same Pandora, the new Pandora has volcanos, icebergs, and towers that stand hundreds of feet in the air. It was refreshing to see something besides brown, and when the game opened atop a glacier that blinded with blue snow, I knew I was in for a treat.
Gearbox also added a ton of new conveniences that Borderlands fans such as myself are very grateful to have. The bank system first introduced in the Moxxi’s Underdome DLC is now standard. There are several banks around Pandora with which to store access treasure you’d like to save, but not use up valuable inventory space. Claptrap’s stash is a level up from that idea. In addition to being a bank, they also function as a portal through space-time. Putting items in the stash will allow you to access them from any playthrough you have. After I outgrew an awesome 92 x 13 shotgun I used for many levels, I stored in the stash and gave it to my Mechromancer, who is now making good use of it.
Character heads and skins are totally customizable now. From the breaking bad inspired Gunzerker dome to the Tannis like Siren haircut, you can make your character pretty unique looking. Customization parts are also a common occurrence in found loot, or from completing the game’s new challenge mechanic. The Badass ranks may be the most fun new addition. Completing challenges like getting close range shotgun kills earns you badass points. Accumulating badass points earns you tokens which can be applied to stat bonuses that apply to all of your characters. Each character you make has a clean slate of challenges to complete, meaning you can earn badass points ad infinitum. This is an amazing way to reward players for making new characters, playing multiple playthroughs, and trying new things.
I don’t think there is any way to really criticize Borderlands 2. For being so remarkably similar, at the atomic level, to Borderlands 1, an already amazing formula, and replaced the duct tape that held it together with concrete, Borderlands 2 is a stellar game. The humor is back, the gameplay is back, and it is tons more ridiculous and addictive than ever before. Getting myself away from the game to write this review was difficult enough, with well over one hundred hours devoted already, and almost all achievements, I have no real plans of stopping as long as there are bandits to kill and loot to collect. It all comes down to one thing though: This game is awesome – go buy it right now.