With a complex story, greater weapons, better driving, more unique monsters, improved graphics, creative abilities and stunning gameplay, Borderlands 2 far surpasses its predecessor. Read on to find out what makes it so great.
Very seldom do I subject myself to video games that I actually enjoy thoroughly. More often than not, there’s some glaring inconsistency that gets so far up in my “craw,” I find the entirety of a game difficult to have fun playing. Eventually, it becomes a chore to wade through whatever issues there may be, and I end up finishing a game for no reason other than because I started it.
Such is not the case here.
Gearbox Software, the company responsible in part for some very classic titles, seems to have tapped directly into my psyche, since the Borderlands series seems to have been developed specifically for me. What’s more, they’ve taken their franchise and improved it in ways I didn’t think possible.
The journey begins at the introductory sequence; taking the original cutscene and expanding upon it to involve more blood, carnage, and malice (akin to something you’d see in a gritty Jason Statham movie), sets the scene for the game as a whole. You begin as fodder (I started as the Gunzerker character, although quickly changed to Zero, the assassin, because Salvador’s special skill sucks, plus he’s a fatty), discarded by the game’s main villain, Handsome Jack (or as I had taken to calling him, Handy the Jackhole, because he’s a dick) only to be discovered by the helpful robot, Claptrap, and escorted back to his safe house, of sorts. He fills you in on the situation with his classic sarcastic wit, and you’re immediately thrust into the action, fending off this generation’s disposable starter monster; the Bullymong. They come in all shapes and sizes, as do most of the enemies. This is a welcome change from the original; you don’t have to wait for the second playthrough to encounter enemies at different tiers. Instead, they attack in well-stacked groups that vary depending on your level. Already, this is turning out to be a much more involved and customized instalment in the Borderlands franchise.
Speaking of customization (something that is oddly important to me…maybe I have some kind of problem), the characters you select have a much wider variety of clothing options, with special selections for those who’ve played the first game. In addition, each character has their own clever lines which apply to a variety of situations: from impatience if you leave the game idle, to complaints about having to do math when comparing weapons. The customization extends further with the inclusion of Badass Tokens. This time, when you complete in-game challenges (such as shooting projectiles thrown by the Bullymongs, or tightrope-walking instead of taking the much more convenient conveyor across a frozen river), you earn Badass Ranks, which convert into tokens that you spend on things like weapon accuracy, elemental damage and shield regeneration rate. These buffs carry over from one character to another, just in case you want to play again. There is also a stash box where you can put items for your other characters to use. It’s all quite helpful.
The weapons have also been greatly improved. Each brand name comes with an extra perk; some weapons increase in accuracy when you fire them continuously, others turn into thrown grenades that explode when you reload them. These perks differ from one type to another, all of which are clearly detailed in the description of the gun. There are many more kinds of weapons than in the original Borderlands, as illustrated by the game trailer (using some obscene, made-up number that totally isn’t a real thing). On top of that, the realism has been increased; for instance, snipers no longer stay perfectly still when using the scope. The list of substantial improvements goes on to include the graphics, which are much smoother. The same goes for the animations, from the player’s character to the NPCs. The enemy AI is more intelligent, and often will move away from your bullets, instead of standing still with a big “Shoot me, I’m open” sign strapped to their forehead. Save points are placed in more suitable and varied areas, which makes for a lot less backtracking through empty areas when you die totally by accident. It’s okay, I believe you when you say that.
I wouldn’t be an unbiased and fair critic if I didn’t touch on the things that are less than satisfactory. For instance, I’m upset to see the return of the Guardian Angel, for no other reason than because she’s annoying. She never provides useful information beyond what can be conveyed just by playing the game. What’s more, she pops in too often, and they’ve now included her whole head and shoulders in the video loop. She doesn’t talk with her mouth (I know that sounds weird, but she seriously doesn’t, it doesn’t move at all) which means I have to watch her stare at me, with creepy, mechanical eyes, every time she tries to give me her pointless advice. Another issue I have is with the vehicle handling; it still sucks. Granted, they’ve made it very difficult to flip over or get stuck, but the steering is still awful and I still run into every rock and cactus in existence. The right-bumper drift handbrake feature is really great, if you like hitting walls and absorbing every enemy bullet imaginable. Which I don’t. Nobody does.
Nevertheless, Borderlands 2 is a masterpiece of game design, succeeding as a sequel by improving on the essential elements without losing what made its predecessor great. Though not without flaws, its glitches and problems are far overshadowed by the pure awesome-ness of the whole experience. Each feature has been looked over and made better in astounding capacity. It continues to be as entertaining as ever, with a hilarious script and a sleek, stylish design. In a genre that continues to produce the same repetitive and mundane gameplay, this gem keeps the dream alive.