OXCGN’s Borderlands 2 Review
Opening Pandora’s Box
by Nicholas Laborde
©2012 Nicholas Laborde
Described as the world’s first “shooter looter,” Borderlands was a very successful title with an emphasis on cooperative play, and above all, fun.
Fast forward to the present, and we’re knee-deep in the sequel, Borderlands 2.
Taking every single concept utilized in the first title, refining the gameplay, and giving us a bazillion more guns to play with, Gearbox have managed to do the unthinkable: make Borderlands even more enjoyable.
The new antagonist, Handsome Jack, is conducting a master plan. Remember when you opened the Vault at the end of Borderlands, and were disappointed that it was just a monster? Well, so was everyone else in the world (and the world of Borderlands).
As it turns out, it was all part of a bigger plan orchestrated by Jack in order to mine the element Eridium so that he could get to the real prize: the Warrior.
Now, four new Vault Hunters – with the assistance of the old crew – must race against time and defeat Jack.
Does that sound long? It may by modern standards, but thanks to the signature writing that defined the first title, you’ll easily get sucked in to the world that is Pandora.
You’ll meet everyone you could possibly imagine: stereotypical Irishmen, sadistic cults, narcissistic bandits, unscrupulous gun dealers, and yes, a dancing robot named Claptrap.
Thanks to a plethora of new animation, the characters that you’ll encounter feel much more real than in the original title, and it’s that much easier to laugh your way all the way to the end.
Just a bit of class
Axton, the Commando, is the new Roland. His special ability is the Scorpio Turret 2.0, which goes above and beyond anything Roland’s turret could do.
Maya, the Siren, is Lilith 2.0. She can use Phaselock, an ability that lifts an enemy into the air and holds them there for a certain amount of time. This combined with Axton’s Scorpio turret is an extremely deadly combination.
Salvador, the Gunzerker, is… well, to put it simply, Brick wasn’t the star of the original Borderlands. Salvador, on the other hand, is like the more suave little brother. If, of course, “more suave” means “more badass” to you, then we understand each other perfectly.
His ability is, as his name implies, Gunzerking. This allows Salvador to dual wield weapons for a brief amount of time, and in combination with certain skill tree choices, is absolutely deadly.
Finally, we have the most unique class in the game, the Assassin. Known as Zero, his focus is on moving quickly around combat and using melee attacks on enemies.
As any assassin should be able to do, Zero can shoot out clones of himself for his ability (much like the hologram ability in Halo: Reach) that distract enemies.
The cast is much more diversified than in the original title, and provides something for absolutely everyone.
With the fifth class, the Mechromancer, coming in October and other classes being hinted at, you’ll find something no matter your taste in Borderlands 2.
You could have two turrets as Axton, or the ability to make your enemies turn on each other as Maya.
While the possibilities may certainly not be endless, there’s something for everyone. My personal favorite, though, is the ability of Axton’s turret to explode like a nuke.
In general, the entire gameplay experience has been completely refined and improved. If you can recall any specific complaints with the previous title, the issue is very likely to have been ironed out here.
Specifically, my main complaint with Borderlands was the waypoint system. Attached to the bottom of your screen in a horizontal compass, you’d very frequently find yourself right on top of the marker, but unable to locate where or what you needed to go or do.
Thankfully, the compass system has been removed, being replaced by a ridiculously useful mini-map on a corner of the screen, in which your green objective diamond is located.
In addition, the compass is interlaced on the actual objective within the environment. If you end up on a mission that requires you to search a general area, this is denoted on your map by a large light green circle over the area you need to search.
Other gameplay improvements include the streamlining of picking up items (you now automatically pick up money and ammo), more weapon variety (think a gun that explodes when you reload it), and the addition of a trading system.
The gameplay in Borderlands 2 is, as I’ve iterated several times already, refined. There’s no better term to describe it.
Whether you’re a veteran or a newcomer, it’s easy to become awestruck by how polished the game is.
Polished to a shine
In my review just over a year ago, I called Gears of War 3 the most polished game I’ve ever played.
Borderlands 2 is now tied for that title.
From the incredible writing to the smooth gameplay, Borderlands 2 is arguably the most bang for your buck this year.
I never would have enjoyed Borderlands if it took itself seriously; thankfully, Borderlands 2 does not, and that’s why I love it.
©2012 Nicholas Laborde
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