The gun looting world is finally back in Borderlands 2, with a new set of characters to change up the formula.
The game has been improved a lot from the previous version. There is now a coherent story, and you tend to care a little bit more about the people you talk to. Familiar faces will return in all their crazy glory, and I personally think it’s awesome having each character introduced in a profound, cinematic way. Like yeah, what a badass. The same 4 classes are back but with new faces. The commando can still drop his trusty turret in the middle of the battlefield to rain bullets on his foes, while the siren, instead of being able to phase through people, can now phase-lock people in a stasis of destruction. It’s definitely satisfying getting off a clean head shot from a random dude stuck in mid air. The world is bigger and badder than before, with a ton more interesting quests to do. Overall it’s a complete game that dramatically improves on its predecessor.
The story is quite simple and easy to follow. There’s this one guy, Handsome Jack, who’s a total asshole. A new vault has been located and can be opened by the same vault key from the last game, and so once again you got a bunch of people, who we call vault hunters, who wants to seek it out. Handsome Jack has his own army of Hyperion robots from the Hyperion Cooperation, which he is the president of. Borderlands 2 makes sure that you know that Handsome Jack is evil, with the audio logs scattered about the world about the evil things he’s done, and from him himself. You’ll be hearing him frequently, most often than not ranting about bad things he’s going to do to you and others around you, in a humorous way. The game’s not supposed to be taken too seriously, which is great in a way, as the story isn’t all that special. There are plentiful of internet jokes, memes, and pop culture lines either spoken from your allies or from the bandits you kill, and you will be killing a lot of them. What’s new is the central hub known as the Sanctuary. Filled with citizens, you can collect new side missions, buy ammo, weapons and shields, or customize you character. There are over 70 different colors and skins to choose from to make your badass stand out from the crowd. There are NPCs that you can talk to, and the things they say do relate to the current events taking place. Not to mention, there is a slot machine. I spent way too many hours on it, I’ll have to admit. Although it is an improvement from the wasteland of Borderlands 1, the game still tends to feel desolate other than Sanctuary, but this is remedied by interesting characters you receive missions from.
By killing baddies and monsters, and completing quests, your vault hunter levels up through experience and gain skill attributes. The skills are placed into 3 skills trees, and placing skills points in one unlocks further skills in that tree path. It’s impossible to unlock and upgrade all of the skills, and the game encourages you to try out new tree methods with its cheaply priced re-spec option.
The most important thing in the game, as it was in Borderlands 1, are the guns. There are millions of guns you can obtain. By millions, I mean each gun you pick up will have completely different stats than another gun you might find. These guns are further separated into different gun manufacturers that each have unique features. Tediore, for example, would explode when reloading gun, so the gun can be tossed away as a grenade. All guns found in chests are randomized, including the loot you pick off from fallen foes. Sooner or later you’ll find that special one that just feels right, and some secret gems if you dig deep enough. Just be wary that if you’re playing this cooperatively, loot is shared. Beware of the ninja thieves aka co-op partners out there. The game can be played cooperatively with up to 3 other players, either online or LAN. There is also a 2 player split-screen mode for your couch buddies. You can traverse the landscape in couple of vehicles provided by Scooter, the mechanic, but like the first game the controls are somewhat clunky and may take some time to get used to it.
The game is quite colourful. Different environments are vibrant and makes well use of cel-shading graphics. As a plus, the PC version utilizing a Nvidia’s graphics card has PhysX. Gun fights are dazzled with tiny particles exploding after every gun fire, as if fireworks were going off. It’s really awe-inducing. And, if you’re feeling adventurous enough, there is a way to enable PhysX on graphics cards other than Nvidia. The badasses you fight spew out the most ridiculous lines sometimes, but they are voiced well enough. Just prepared for some sudden “playstops” or moments where you’re left dumb founded on what you just heard.
Borderlands 2 has done its job well. It kept the core game play intact and stayed true to the gun looting world of Pandora, but also expanded on the little things. The graphics are sharper and much more vibrant, there’s a greater amount and variety in guns you can find, and the story more interesting than before.