Borderlands 2 Review
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Borderlands 2 is one of the best co-op experiences of this generation and vastly superior to its predecessor, which is saying a lot. Get lost under a pile of loot as you join friends on the battlefield in your new quest on Pandora.
- Addictive looting system
- Terrific co-op experience with solid gameplay
- Hilarious characters in a vastly improved narrative
- Graphic, mostly texture, issues
- Occasional bugs
- Only fair vehicle mechanics and usage
The studio behind 2009's stylish first-person shooter, the addictive and clever Borderlands, deserves credit for putting out a co-op game with massive cajones. Gearbox Software created one of our favorite titles of this generation, it fed the dirty habits of loot whores, and its subsequent add-on content reminded us that downloadable content can be good, really good. The gameplay was tight, especially in co-op; the artistic style was impressive; and the sheer amount of loot was daunting. Really, the only major qualm from fans was the attached, cookie-cutter story and some minor technical issues. So with three years under its belt, did Gearbox simply throw a better story on the skeleton of Borderlands, or did the team reinvent the wheel and give us a completely new game in the sequel? While the answer lies somewhere in between, we're happy to report that Borderlands 2 doesn't only surpass the original, it's one of the most memorable experiences in recent gaming history and something we're sure many others will enjoy as we shift to a brand new set of consoles.
If you follow us here at PSU, you have no doubt read our numerous previews, features, and news on Borderlands 2. You know about the new cast of playable characters, the fact there's an actual story, the improved user-interface, and how Gearbox hasn't let up in the loot department. But here's what you may not know: It all works together in a harmonious blend, once again feeding the cravings of loot junkies, offering exhilarating co-op, and delivering a narrative that drives players through 30+ hours of gameplay.
You will once again return to the alien planet of Pandora, which still looks like it collided with a United States' western flick. Borderlands 2 takes place a few years after the events from the first game, and once again sees bounty hunters on a search for a vault. While similar to the original Borderlands, there's a much clearer antagonist in Handsome Jack, who is more than a simple menace. Handsome Jack essentially runs Pandora, and the citizens aren't too happy about that. You'll lace-up as one of the four Vault Hunters as you quest to eliminate Handsome Jack at the request of a renegade group.
This narrative has been told before, and in many cases, other games have told it better. But, Borderlands 2 still offers a story that drives its players from mission to mission, and it's interesting enough to make you want to know what happens next. Where Borderlands 2 knows how to set itself apart, however, is in the quirky character and hilarious dialogue department. You will come across folks from the original title, including the old playable characters and key Non-Player Characters. You'll befriend a crazed 13-year-old girl with a nose for explosives, and a very, very large woman with a knack for the auto industry. The voice acting is simply perfect, whether it's the main cast, supporting NPCs, or even enemies yelling: "Just leave me alone!" But it's not just comedy; Borderlands 2 has a squishy part, too. At times the game feels sentimental, but that's quickly ripped away as Claptrap asks you to help setup his birthday party, or Handsome Jack offers suggestions to name his new pony. Borderlands 2 smartly blends comedy throughout the narrative and gives hints of its heart throughout.
You are free to get lost in the quirky characters or storyline, but you have absolutely no choice other than slaughtering hundreds, if not thousands, of enemies. Whether you roll over skags (yup, there are still skags everywhere) in your vehicle, knife bandits in the back, or lob grenades at bosses, one way or another, you are going to kill a lot of baddies. While Borderlands 2 offers a ton of killing options, you'll spend most of your time behind a gun, pulling off rounds at aggressive foes. The gun mechanics are extremely solid--guns have unique qualities, ... (continued on next page)