Borderlands 2 (PC) Review
I will probably never forget my original adventures on Pandora. The original Borderlands game was a blast, and I had a lot of fun running around shooting stuff with the random people that graced my game… but towards the end, I had found myself wanting to play alone and just finish the game rather then keep doing side missions as everyone else wanted to. And by the time I finished three of the four expansions (I was warned about Mad Moxxie’s arena-based one and avoided it), I had had enough of Borderlands for a long long time.
Now after having bought the sequel on sale with Steam, I find myself looking on the game I just finished with a smile, though fully aware I should wait on diving into the DLC to avoid feeling so “done” as I did before. It was good, but please read on to see what Pandora offers you this time.
Story: Its been a few years since the vault hunters opened up the vault which contained not the treasure they had been promised, but a monstrous beast that almost took their lives. Since then, the legendary four have gone into retirement and their separate ways, but that is not all that has changed. Since then, Hyperion, under the leadership of Handsome Jack, has gained in power, enough so to basically rule the planet of Pandora with an iron fist. Fueling this power is the new element that started to show up on the planet when the vault was opened, Iridium.
Since then, there has been a resistance forming to keep Pandora free of Jack’s dictatorship, but it is slowly losing ground. Still, since he has a grudge against your line of work (the new generation of vault hunter) and is moving to kill you, they are your only allies, and who knows, you just might be what the rebels need to begin to turn the war around. Guided by the very same mysterious ally that guided the previous generation of hunters, you begin on your way...
From this humble beginning, your story, while overall very straight forward, will prove to reach epic levels. Without giving too much away, you will find yourself in a race against Jack to prevent unspeakable power from being unleashed and decimating the entire planet. And while this sounds about as generic as a game story can get, the style and humor which takes you there in this title will make this not about where you go, but how you get there. There is not a single bad character to darken this plot’s path. And with the wit and humor here right up until the final act, this game will never leave you board. And when the shit gets serious, you will be eager to see how it all plays out. In the end, a straightforward, but very solid story.
Graphics: When a game claims to be running on the Unreal 3 Engine, we generally all know to expect a great looking game. It may not be photo-realistic, but it will look great, featuring shiny surfaces, well sculpted characters, smooth animation, and usually with the price of some pop-in as the game loads a level. In this case, however, you can ditch about everything in that description other then looking great and pop-in. Choosing instead a comic-like artistic style reminiscent of it’s predecessor and Darkness II, Borderlands 2 will strike an image for itself that will stick out in today’s FPS market filled with attempts to be realistic, but looking grey and brown. Bright, vibrant, and in many ways like playing a comic book, this game will be sure to please.
The characters of Pandora all generally have their own feel as well, and while they do fit together well, it is clear they fit in the way they would if drawn on a page, even as they each carry their own flair, from the bug brutish Goliaths to the little petite, but deadly Moxxi. You will have no issues with any character’s look, and in fact may admire the designs.
This also goes for the world itself, which could rival some of the best dioramic views you will see in other games. They still stand out for their coloring resembling, once again, a comic over trying to go for the realism look, but the beauty is there without question. More up close, the detail between the lines also remains and can be appreciated, from the scraps of metal used to build the towns to the advanced alien technology woven through and around some of these places assembled by salvaging what they can, the world takes on a nice post-apocalyptic/slightly science fiction meets spaghetti western view that will keep you from getting bored with what you see.
Sound: However, when it comes to charm, the real star here is not the looks, but the sounds. Be it ClapTrap’s incessant yapping, people blaming you for bringing him with you to yap at/around them, Jack telling you how he named his “diamond horse” ButtStallion in your honor, or any other character doing what they do, the voices are absolutely perfect.
This is also where a lot of the game’s humor comes into play. The conversations you will be involved in as well as overhear will be entertaining as hell, but once again, I have to go back to Jack in this regard. He is clearly the star. As he constantly calls to tell you whatever is on his mind, even as it usually involves being frustrated at your inability to die or to make fun of you, he shows himself to be that villain you absolutely love to hate, and then love again as he genuinely is hysterical, you being the butt of his jokes or not. You will honestly look forward to every time he speaks over the radio more than any other character in the game, including Scooter (who is almost as funny).
Sound effects, like most games these days, tend to take a backseat here, however. They serve their purpose, but they really are nothing that will stand out from any other FPS game on the market. Gunshots these days seem to be gunshots.... so I wouldn’t go looking there for the entertainment value this time around.
Gameplay: Borderlands 2, much like the original Borderlands, is an First Person Shooter game, mixed with a dungeon crawler, complete with obscene amounts of loot to pick up as you complete your adventure. You will play with up to 3 friends running around to collect quests to complete, collecting the items both from enemies you kill along the way and as rewards for your questing. A lot of these missions are simply side-missions you can take if you think they look fun or you need to build yourself up, while around 20 missions will have to happen in a specific order as they tell the story of the game. And by a lot, I mean there are at least double, possibly triple the missions available as side quests in this game as compared to the main story line. If you are the kind of player who has to do everything, you are going to be in this one for the LONG haul.
And these missions all vary immensely. You will be doing anything from the classic farming parts from enemies to planting bombs to freeing people or kidnapping them, to even acts of self-detriment for the amusement of others. If there is something that can be done in a first-person perspective and have a sense of humor about it, this game probably has it somewhere.
During all this adventuring and looting, you will also be gaining experience which you will use to level up. Each level grants you more health and shields as well as point to put in your skill trees (once you get a few levels in). You will have three of these to work with, each set being different depending on what Vault Hunter you chose to play as. I choose the assassin Zero for my run, so what skills were available to me will vary to those available to you, and to top it off, your style of gameplay could also well have you selecting different abilities than I did should you choose the same Vault Hunter. Add to that the variety of modifications and relics designed to adjust your stats and powers, bad-ass tokens you get for completing challenges and spend to select one of a handful of randomly selected tweaks that get added from that point on to every character you play, and the raw amount of guns the game can drop and you will likely build a very different character than I or the random guy you meet up with online with, making the game that much more fun to bring online and play on the web.
And that is the real star of this game. Playing alone, you will have fun, laugh, and enjoy. Playing as a team online, you will have an absolute blast as everyone’s style meshes together and the wise-assery of your comrades just makes this trully something special. Much like the original game, this one added people to my friends list on Steam. It seems in these games, you find the players who are just fun to play with, and you will want to find them again.
Bugs: There were really only two bugs I could find in this game at all, one was annoying, one was just really weird:
Gun of a different color: Somehow early on in my game, the way I got out of my vehicle required me to teleport out. This is not so uncommon, but what was strange about it, was when I got back in the top of the turret was no longer a metal piece that should cover the missile launcher. Instead, it was replaced by a rock-looking bitmap, that moved with the turret and vehicle. I do not know how I did that and it didn’t affect the gameplay, but it was weird.
People-Lag: Seriously, while a full game in Borderlands 2 is a blast, getting there can be annoying sometimes. Whenever a player is pinging your game since it matches the criteria for the matchmaking in the game, you pause for a moment. No one else already in the game does, but you, as the server do. This could get VERY annoying for the first 15 minutes or so during times when everyone in your area is online. And while it stops entirely when you have a full game, it’s just a place Gearbox should have done a better job.
Overall: Gearbox has once again, created an amazing game here. If you are a fan of the original Borderlands, I have to know why you haven’t bought this game yet. If you weren’t a fan, but enjoyed the original, then this game will also be worth your time and money. You will have at least as much fun this time around when you go online as you did with Borderlands 1.
For those new to the franchise, if you are a fan of loot-collecting games, love a good sense of humor, or are just looking for a fun title to play with friends, this game is definitely there for you. Depending on those friends, you might want to get it on sale, but friend groups will vary.
out of 10