Borderlands 2 - Better The Second Time
This time around, Gearbox gave us an interesting world to explore; An excellent cast of characters and new stat-boosting options to combat the tedium of leveling.
Unless you are opposed to ultra violent games and dark humor, Borderlands 2 is a great game you can't afford to miss.
With that said, I believe the following types of gamers will enjoy this game the most:
Action Junkies - Borderlands 2 is one high-intensity combat sequence after another. Toss in the excellent, spot-on controls and button-mapping and the improved inventory interface and you've got a game that no Action Junkie should pass on, period.
Collaborators - This game is definitely better when played with friends. Gearbox clearly made Borderlands 2 to appeal to collaborators--they've provided incentives for friends or even strangers to play the game together. The game increases the difficulty level, gives you more money and drops better loot in proportion to the amount of people you have in your squad. On top of that, Borderlands 2 cooperative play is completely seamless. No ridiculous pre-game menus to sift thru. Just find a game, jump in and all your progress comes with you. This edition even gives you the option to skip over portions of your single-player game that you've completed with friends in their games.
Explorers - Many people refer to the Borderlands games as "open-world" or "sandbox" titles. While this assessment is not incorrect, I do want to make a point to you more enthusiastic explorers out there. The world in Borderlands 2 is not completely open. It's a collection of decent-sized maps tied together by travel-hub loading screens and navigated by a stationary fast-travel system.
So don't think Elder Scrolls openness where you have the freedom to basically walk to anything you can see or immediately fast-travel to any location you've already visited. Don't let this discourage you, though. The real feeling of exploration comes from how the game allows you to approach enemy locations and combat situations with a large degree of freedom. Bottom line--Exploration in Borderlands 2 is open enough for most explorers to at least be satisfied if not blown away.
Audiophiles - I believe Borderlands 2 should be seen as the standard for how to execute a dynamic soundtrack. Not only is the music itself amazing, but the way it adjusts to what you are doing in the game is absolutely on point. The music, voice acting and sound effects all had a direct positive impact on my game experience. Extreme Audiophiles that need a dope soundtrack to pull them into their games should not be disappointed here.
- I'd like to note that the voice acting is also handled dynamically. When I would encounter a battle with enemies around the same level as me, they would taunt me and talk a lot of smack. When I would either beat them down or encounter enemies much weaker than me, they would whine about me leaving them alone or at least ask that I don't loot their equipment once I killed them. Very well done.
Builders - The builder, or customization elements, of Borderlands 2 was what initially hooked me. However, by the time I started my 2nd play thru on true vault hunter mode, I was a bit burnt out because of the slow leveling progression. This game starts out significantly more difficult than the original (at least that was my experience playing as the Assassin). This makes it all the more sweet when you level up, enter skill points and return to an area where you got your ass handed to you to whoop some ass of your own.
With that said, if you are like me and plan to put in many hours of play beyond simply beating the game, be aware that the repetitive nature of Borderlands 2 might begin to wear on you. Also, leveling from 40-50 seemed like an absolute chore--especially considering the sweet level-50 loot I'd been holding and could not use. EXP gets way too scarce too early in my opinion.
Achievers - For you completionists and achievement junkies out there, Borderlands 2 offers quite a bit to do. And aside from a few tedious achievements, most of it is a whole lot of fun.
These gamer types will find slight disappointments in Borderlands 2:
Strategists - Borderlands 2 doesn't do a great job of rewarding smart use of strategy of tactics. Winning a battle requires little more than having good weapons for your level or simply attacking enemies whose levels are on-par or lower than yours. While playing with friends, you can incorporate different tactics using the diverse character classes, but you'll never really get the sense that doing so is necessary. If I had to guess, I'd say including different character classes is more about giving the gamer choices for how they fight and less about adding a tactical feel to the battlefield. And this is not necessarily a bad thing. The fact that tactics take a backseat to the action is part of what makes this game so accessible to so many people.
Competitors - Other than Fink's Slaughter House, another secret arena found later in the game and a head-to-head dual mode, there's not much here for the competitor types who favor games like Call of Duty or Battlefield.
Visualists - The graphics here are a mix between beautifully handled color and awkward-looking character models. Overall, the visual presentation is good, but I wouldn't call it outstanding.
Bookworms - Borderlands 2's story may be slightly more coherent than the first, but that's really not saying much. Bookworms will find a functional story, but not much more than that. If great stories with well-developed characters are your thing, then Borderlands 2 is not where you should be looking. Its saving grace is the outstanding voice cast. Handsome Jack may very well be my most favorite villain ever in my video gaming history. Just listen to him joke about killing one of your friends.
- Mechromancer character class is fun to play
- Badass Rank perks add depth to character development
- Backtracking to turn in quests and receive rewards
- The in-game map is hard to interpret at times
- Character development slows to a lull between levels 40 and 50
- Pirate's Booty DLC uninspired
Verdict - So as I bring this review to a close, I hope that I've given you enough information to determine if Borderlands 2 is right for you (hint: It is right for you, go buy it!). If you are an Action Junkie and or a Collaborator, I'd say you cannot afford to pass this game up. As always, if you've already played it, leave us commentary about your experience. Peace and Godspeed!