Published on September 19th, 2012 | by Kyle Spencer, Editor
Borderlands 2 Review
Developer: Gearbox Software
Platform: Xbox 360 [Reviewed], PlayStation 3, & PC
Release Date: 9/18/2012
I had a chance to meet the mastermind of Borderlands this summer while checking out Borderlands 2. I was able to see the level of excitement in one man’s eyes about his product, and he convinced me that when Borderlands 2 ships, it was going to be something to rave about.
“What else could you add to an already fantastic game to help improve it for a sequel?” asked Randy Pitchford, president of Gearbox Software. “Well, we mainly decided to stick with what worked so well for us in the first game. Why would you want to try and fix something that is not broken, and instead make tweaks to areas that we felt could improve game play and drive the level of fun and competition forward?”
It is easy to spot game developers that are so excited about their work, they are like kids at Christmas time when they show it off to you, against the developers that are just going through the motions saying, “Oh here is our game. We hope you enjoy it”. It’s that level of excitement that developers need to take notice of. Pitchford obviously loved what he was doing with Borderlands 2 and his other projects, that he couldn’t wait for us to play it. Now that Borderlands 2 is finally on stores shelve we finally see all the joy, hard work and excitement that went into bringing us the return of one of the greatest co-op games ever created.
Borderlands 2 brings back the four different character classes that you may already be familiar with from the first time around. The Commando, which is heavy on gun turrets, The Gunzerker utilizes Rage, which allows him to dual-wield ANY weapon, The Siren, which is heavy on Phase Lock and trapping enemies, and The Assassin, which boasts cloaking and quick, deadly attacks. Much like the first game you tailor how you want that particular class to play. You build up each character’s skill trees to fit your play style. The talents trees in Borderlands 2 are actually more defined and expanded than they were the first time around. If you happen to be playing with someone who ops to use the same character class that you do, the trees are so definitive that the characters will not play the same.
Borderlands 2 does add a bit more to the character customization by adding a new challenge mode called “The Badass Ranking System.” The system is monitored by the host and will grant players points for performing specific tasks while out on missions. For example, getting 10 headshots with a particular weapon class, or reviving a different teammate three times could earn you points which you can then use to further build up your character. There are bonuses per token which you can add to your stats such as weapon damage, melee damage, health increase, etc. The great thing about this in-game challenge system is that the points you earn are spread throughout all of your characters. If you decide to start up a new character, the “Badass” points that you earned will transfer to any other character that you create.
Borderlands 2 is extremely “loot” heavy. For all you fans out there that love the “shoot and loot” kind of games, there is no way you will be disappointed with Borderlands 2. As the trailer says, “There are a BAZILLION guns”, and there is truth to that. Even though many of the weapons will function very similar, the stats are much more impressive this time around than they were in the first. The game is gun heavy, but with the amount of character specializations and lush environments, it will feel more like a playground than a typical first-person shooter kill room.
The games character customization is not as flushed out as many RPG’s out there but with a game like this it really doesn’t have to be. Sure you get to change the character skins, add different facial features and change up the color outfit he wears, but the overall appearance and size of the characters will remain the same. It is in the class customizations that Borderlands 2 strikes gold.
The driving in Borderlands 2 has not improved from the first game either. If you are one of those gamers that has trouble keeping a car on the road (and trust me, I played with one throughout this review process), or driving on a straight forward path without flipping or rolling your car over, then Borderlands 2 driving will become aggravating. It also seems as if the cars are not used as much in quests as they probably should have been. I thought that id Software’s RAGE actually used the driving mechanic better than the Borderlands series has so far. It seemed throughout the course of the game that the vehicles were only meant to get us from mission objective to mission objective without having to walk long distances.
Borderlands 2 has roughly around 30 hours of game time. Oddly enough, Borderlands 2 is very compelling when it comes to story. The characters are believable in the world they live in; the story is meaningful and actually has successful plot points that help drive the narrative in a positive direction. The bulk of the games story comes out through side quests. Gearbox has always done a solid job of telling a story from outside of the main story line. If you want the complete story of what is happening on Pandora you will want to complete many of the games side quests. If you a fan of the first games DLC then you will have a blast with some of the games early side quests.
What Gearbox gets right that many RPGs don’t is giving you reasons to come back to the world of Pandora. Sure, we all know there is DLC coming down the pipeline to help keep the game in your systems, but it’s the game modes that you can do just after completing your first run through of the game. I find myself already with numerous characters for different playthroughs. I have my single player character, my co-op character, my test characters of each class and my main. After completing the game you unlock the Vault Hunter mode which lets you keep all of your loot and levels and star the game from the very beginning.
Gearbox delivered on what it set out to do. Deliver a great sequel that made minor tweaks to a game that was already fun to revisit. Borderlands 2 is successful in every way a game should be successful in. You want fun gameplay? You have that here. You want amazing character development? You have that here. You want an interesting story with fantastic characters? You have that here. You want all the loot that you heart can withstand? You have that here.
You want awesome driving? Well the Jury is still out, but Borderlands 2 has already set itself up for a Game of the Year nomination and the folks over at Gearbox should be very happy for what they have achieved. With future DLC in the works, it only makes me look forward to the constant revisits to the world of Pandora I will be making.
+ Fantastic gameplay
+ All that loot!
+ Hours of mayhem
+ Interesting storyline
– Shared loot system