The story of Borderlands 2 takes place after 5 years have gone by since the events of the first game when the original 4 vault hunters, Roland, Lilith, Mordecai, and Brick were guided by the mysterious entity, known as “The Guardian Angel” to reach the Vault to find some great spoils. But that is not what they had found, instead of finding much treasures, they were confronted by an alien prisoner abomination known as “The Destroyer”.
After the original vault hunters had defeated The Destroyer, there was a valuable mineral now known as “Eridium” that had begun to show up and immensely grow all throughout Pandora’s crust. That’s when our antagonist of Borderlands 2 known as Handsome Jack, a member of the Hyperion Corporation, secures this new resource and makes use of it to take over the corporation. After the original team failed to prevent Handsome Jacks takeover of Pandora, who know rules over the citizens of Pandora with an iron fist and the rumors of a new and even bigger vault, that’s when our new vault hunters that we get to play come in.
After getting a chance to experience the first Borderlands game, when it was free for PlayStation Plus members I was more hyped up and ready to return to Pandora and tackle new set of characters and enemies with Gearbox Software’s sequel, Borderlands 2. Though the first game had lot great things going for it, there where quite a few issues with it. One problem was trouble with online parties, difficulty inviting friends, especially if they were new because you would have to wait for the next game to update for them to show in the game list, microphone problems with people not being able to hear each other, graphics at times looking like they never fully rendered, and some other minor bugs and glitches. There was also a good amount people who did like the game but were not too happy of how they chose to end the story. So what about the sequel? Has it improved and fixed any these issues? Has anything been added to make it an even better experience? Well, read on and see!!
Borderlands 2 continues to expand and refine on what was beguan in the first Borderlands. At the start of the game, players select one of four new characters, each with a unique special skill and proficiencies with certain weapons. You can take on various quests assigned through the games NPC’s or Bounty Boards, each will reward the player(s) with experience points, money, and sometimes a reward item. Besides also eliminating foes for experience points, new to Borderlands 2, players can earn experience points by completing in-game challenges (such as getting a certain number of kills using a specific type of weapon, using yours special power, killing with certain weapons in certain ways, etc.). Completing challenges also gives you Badass Tokens that you can redeem to help boost your characters’ bonus stats, and these carry over to all your characters. Just as in the first Borderlands, as you continue to level up , players will earn skill points in which they can then put into a skill tree that features three distinct specializations of the base character. Also returning from the first game are the generated loot system, class-mods, and four-player online cooperative modes.
New features include a more expansive and customize-able weapons system. Reworked four-seat drift-able vehicles and vehicle physics elements, and dynamic mission systems. For example if you or someone on your team fails to complete a certain objective or die it can end in a mission failure and you have to go back and restart the mission again. The AI system has been reworked for the game to react better to players and certain situations. Such as if you are shooting enemies it can stun or cripple them depending on where you happen to shoot them, so if you where to shoot a Hyperion robot’s arm it will cause the arms to fall off, impairing its damage-dealing capabilities. Enemies will be intelligent enough to climb and traverse difficult terrain to pursue the player and will interact with one another much better. For example, certain enemies can heal their teammates, boost their shields for defense, or use them as shields to protect themselves. Borderlands 2 also introduces much more varieties of enemies besides just bandits and will also populate the game world more often and will travel around different locations depending on the time.
With the addition of Eridium in Borderlands 2 it brings a few new things. Now to increase your capacity of your inventory, weapon ammo, and personal vault you have to find Eridium, loot that you can use as a form of currency in the main hubs’ black market. You will also see its use a lot in various plot points to help enhance the power of sirens and other creatures. But another way you will get to use it is with the new element created by the refining of Eridium known as Slag.
Slag, as mentioned, is an element introduced in Borderlands 2, created as a by-product of refining Eridium. Slag elemental weapons have a chance to coat enemies in slag, enemies who become slagged will then take doubled damage from all non-slag sources. Slag damage has no bonuses or penalties against any type of target. Once a target is slagged, any non-slag damage that target suffers is doubled, including effects from elemental affinities, critical hits, and damage over time.
The visuals in Borderlands 2 are really good and have been improved quite a bit over the previous game. I remember at last years E3 when they joked about their environmental artists, finally finding a new color, the color green. It shows with Borderlands 2 featuring some very lush green environments, to more arctic areas, hazardous wastelands and such, each are greatly detailed and I must mention one of the best looking games of 2012 that I have played. Even the weapons now have more variety, each with their own style and color schemes depending on the gun maker. Characters now as well, can be customized with different clothes, hairstyles and such. Much of these can be unlocked via quests, looting and challenge completions.
Borderlands 2 features a lot of great sounds, but not much of a soundtrack besides the opening and ending themes. The rest of it is just NPC, enemies and recordings. Even the random NPC that you see in the hub and certain areas now have something to say, and the returning characters and new characters are even more hilarious than the first. There is a lot of great scripting, jokes and character dialogue. Although if you’re not careful you can cut off some speaking if you happen pick up a quest item, recording you could lose a lot of great character dialogue. So if your willing to stand there and let the people speak, listen carefully to the recording you will hear some great dialogue from a great cast of people. This game does a better job of story telling than the original Borderlands.
Like the previous Borderlands game, Borderlands 2 features 4 player drop in-drop out co-op. The co-op system has been highly improved and is more stable over the first game. Now you can invite from the start screen or in-game and invite anyone from your friend list. Also you can choose what kind of invite you want, open to everyone, just friends, invite only or LAN. There is also offline split screen co-op.
Since Borderlands 2 is meant for more co-op play, it works just fine solo, especially for those looking for better loot, the more people you co-op with the harder the enemies become but also the better loot they will drop.
Borderlands 2 doesn’t really change too much from the formula of the from the first game, but it does continue to expand and refine on what they started. Especially quite a bit from what was wrong with the first and set themselves up to continue to be able to expand more in this series, which I hope they do with future sequels and more great DLC content.
Though there is still quite a bit of things that could have been expanded greatly on, especially with some of the new features that were added. For example, how even though this game is set to have even more guns and items then the first, but your inventory even when it is maxed out is only 27 inventory slots, compared to the first Borderlands that could go up to 42 inventory slots.
Even with all that though, Borderlands 2 is still a great experience just as with the first and now it is always a great adventure to partake with some good friends and lose many hours doing lots of looting and killing adventures.
PS3 version was used for this review
Publisher: 2K Games, Developer: Gearbox Software
Release Date: US – September 18, 2012 and EU – September 21, 2012
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC Digital: Yes
Game Cost: US – $59.99 ESRB Rating: M / 18
Online Pass: No