By Deranged Midget 28 Comments
Gearbox Software created a new genre with the release of the first Borderlands. For the first time, Gearbox managed to successfully blend RPG elements with FPS gameplay and the result was a massive cult hit. Borderlands succeeded with over-the-top action with a massive world and a chaotic cast of characters. The game was mostly regarded as widely successful with a few minor gripes and Gearbox now returns with Borderlands 2. Have they managed to improve on the first Borderlands? Let's find out.
Regarding the cast of characters, you're given a new set of vault hunters to choose from instead of being able to jump back into the shoes of the heroes from the first game. You're given the choice between four new classes to choose from this time around; Axton the Soldier, Zero the Assassin, Maya the Siren and Salvador the Gunzerker. For the most part, they all play relatively the same in regards to what weapons you can use, but it's their unique skills that sets them apart. Axton on one hand is able to toss down a turret, which once upgraded can blow apart your enemies with deadly rocket launchers or even spawn a second turret. On the other hand, the Gunzerker can duel wield weapons and every kill he racks up, improves his durability, speed and strength. Having all these unique skills for each class makes it quite the challenge picking between each character.
As for the supporting cast, Borderlands 2 assumes that the gamer has played the majority of the previous games DLC's and includes characters from the respective added content. Luckily, none of it is needed to truly understand what goes on in the game's main plot as Borderlands 2 explains all that is needed to know about their history. An additional surprise that Gearbox threw in is the return of the four Vault hunters from the original Borderlands; Lilith, Roland, Mordecai, and Brick. While they are un-playable, they serve as the leaders of the resistance and essentially guide you in your efforts to take down the maniacal Handsome Jack. You'll find yourself fighting against them from time to time, but for the most part, they remain as quest-givers.
The plot itself barely goes beyond a revenge story. Handsome Jack has taken control of the Hyperion Corporation and as such, has declared himself the leader of Pandora. Wiping out all resistance in his path and utilizing Pandora's resources to his advantage, the people of Pandora group together to form the Crimson Raiders, bent on eliminating Jack's control on their home. One of the weak points of the original was the lack of a proper story and while Borderlands 2 makes a slightly better effort this time around, it's not a notable one. Luckily, the supporting cast is interesting enough to carry the dull plot and keeps you interested enough to keep pressing forward until the end. The game does boast it's own set of collectibles in the form of audio recordings. Some will tell the story of Pandora in between the games and through the words of the heroes of the original game, while others will focus on the leading cast of Vault Hunters.
The mission structure in Borderlands 2 will be familiar for fans of RPG's. You speak with a specific character to receive a quest and are sent off at their request to do them a favour. One of the biggest annoyances while making my way through the side quests is the constantly recurring "fetch" quests you're sent on. The world is enormous, there is no doubting that, but when you're sent running back and forth across portions of the map only to grab the most redundant items, it becomes a chore.
Easily the most redeeming quality of Borderlands 2 this time around is the absolutely comical dialogue. The conversations to be over-heard between the cast of characters is simply priceless and you can't help but chuckle at some of the topics being discussed. The cel-shaded visuals make a return and while they haven't improved much over the original, the style remains unique and a pleasure to look at.
In accordance with the popular tagline, Borderlands 2 returns with 98 Bajillion more guns for your pure enjoyment and it's here that Gearbox truly succeeds. While there is only a certain amount of weapons to choose from; Assault Rifles, Pistols, Shotguns, Snipers, etc, almost each weapon you find while looting has it's own set of statistics that set it apart from one another and it's almost guaranteed that you won't find another gun identical to the other. The gameplay remains the same and quite honestly for the better as the gunplay was arguably the best part of the series and it's enjoyed even further with a group of friends by your side, eliminating everything in your path.
Borderlands 2 and Gearbox deliver again with the award winning gameplay and ridiculous cast of characters that will keep you occupied for hours on end and while the story might fail to grip the gamer, it does a better job that it's predecessor.