The first Borderlands was successful because it tried something different. It took two genres, and blended them together to make a truly unique shooter-RPG hybrid.
Now Borderlands 2 is here and not only does it capitalize on that success but in many ways it improves upon it.
The story is much more prevalent this time around, with more plot points and a lot more dialogue. The game starts off in classic Borderlands style by introducing you to the main characters via a humorous and action packed cut-scene.
There’s Axton, the Commando who can deploy a turret to help kill enemies. Maya takes on the caster roll as the Siren, making use of her Phaselock skill to stop enemies in their tracks. Salvador the Gunzerker can dual-wield guns and deal massive damage. Zero plays the Assassin who makes use stealth and long-range kills and (if you bought the DLC) the newly released Gaige as the Mechromancer who, as her name implies, summons a giant robot to fight for her.
You’re also introduced to the main villain, Handsome Jack who’s bent on controlling the Vaults on Pandora.
No mater who you pick, you have the option to create a more unique character than in the first game. The skill trees have been completely revamped from what they were. Instead of seemingly minor enhancements earned form the first game, the skill tree you choose to go down can alter the way you play. For example, a Harmony Siren focus’ more on healing herself and teammates, while a Cataclysm Siren focus’ more on constant elemental damage to enemies. It doesn’t stop at play-style however. During your quests you’ll find new costumes for your character and new paint jobs for the vehicles, which is a nice touch.
The original cast is still here. Although they now give you missions and help to move the story along. You might remember in the first game, static characters did little more than lean up against the wall and stare at you while giving you a quest. That has all changed with Borderlands 2. Many characters here have more dialogue and motion in one scene than many others did in the entire first game. You’ll hear some pretty hilarious stuff along your journey both during the main story and on side-quests. My only pick with it is sometimes you’ll encounter several conversations at once with no way of stopping one of them or going back to it later if you missed it.
The soundtrack, however, does a great job of lending itself to the atmosphere of the game. Picking up with the action and creating a unique feel to different areas you explore.
Gearbox has also added another nifty feature known as the Badass Rank. Badass Ranks are awarded for completing challenges such as get 500 kills with a pistol, or melee x amount of enemies. You get tokens for each Badass rank you earn and those points can be put into stat bonuses that carry over to other characters on your profile.
From a technical standpoint the game looks great. I’ve become a fan of the cell-shading technology they use and Borderlands 2 isn’t short on detail. The guns have a lot more to show off this time around, and characters are represented in full.
If you’re a loot fan this game has everything you’re looking for. Enemies almost always drop guns, money and ammo. And there are chests spread out across every single map. You’ll automatically pick up money and health by walking near it. But you still have to manually pick up ammo and other items, which does slow the pacing a bit.
Most gun brands from the first game are back. But their quirks are much more distinct. Jacobs guns fire as fast as you can pull the trigger, Bandit’s have very high ammo capacity, Hyperion guns gain increased accuracy while firing and Tediore guns explode like a grenade when they’re reloaded.
The overall gameplay is a blast! Looking for rare guns or taking down bosses has never been more fun. Things get even more entertaining when you have a friend along. I usually solo with my Siren. But a few of my friends play as Zero and it’s extremely rewarding to stop a heavy enemy in their tracks with my phaselock while my friends pic them off with their sniper rifles!
You can move around while you’re down now, which is a huge help if you get taken down in a tight spot. Gearbox has also made sure to add dozens of new enemy types. One of my favorites are the Goliaths who are unable to control their rage if you knock their helmets off. When this happens they become stronger and begin attacking everyone – including allies – around them.
Borderlands 2 offers something for everyone whether you love Shooters, RPG’s or Lootfest’s. It encourages experimentation and exploration and is even more fun if you have a friend or two along for the ride.