Borderlands is back, and the hunt on Pandora is bigger and badder than ever.We left our favorite Vault Hunters disappointed after opening the Vault only to discover a giant, mutated, bird octopus hybrid thing, but things have not been peaceful on Pandora. The Hyperion company commanded by Handsome Jack used their findings in the Vault to build a vast armada of robot soldiers to rule the planet. Players will have to tackle everything the Hyperion moon base has to throw at them in this sequel.
Roland, Mordecai, Brick, and Lilith aren’t playable in Borderlands 2, but they do play key roles in the story. Instead of our old heros, players have the option to play as Axton, the Commando, Maya, the Siren, Salvador, the Gunzerker, and Zero, the Assassin. The characters have a vastly diverse playstyle as opposed to the original Borderlands. Each new Vault hunter still has three different build paths to choose from, but the skills have gotten even more wild. Axton’s new turret has the potential ability to stick on walls, deploy shields, and even set off a nuclear explosion! Maya can lock enemies in limbo with her Phaselock. Zero can disappear from the battlefield with his deception ability, and Salvador can freakin’ duel wield weapons!
Borderlands 2 runs much smoother(at least on the Xbox 360) than Borderlands 1, which is much welcome improvement. Frame rates no longer drop when you’re unloading hundreds of rounds into your enemies face. Hit detection has become much, much more responsive. Bullets seemed to pass through enemies during the original adventure on Pandora, but Gearbox has worked their magic so bullets actually hit the enemy. My first sniper shots fired into the face of a raging Bullymong confirmed by biggest prayer. Finally, Borderlands feels like a proper shooter, not a RPG with a gimped firing system. Speaking of firing, guns are even more insane and diverse in this iteration. Shotgun rocket launchers, gatling gun sniper rifles, fireball grenade launchers, and pistols with swords(literally) attached are just a mere glimpse into the armory of Pandora. Gearbox was adamant that each gun manufacture in Borderlands 2 would have distinctive differences, and they weren’t kidding. I’ll let you readers find out what each manufacturer is like; it’s more fun that way.
Gearbox also addressed other problems I had with the first game. Grenades now actually have a function, unlike the water balloons in the first game. Enemies are much more dynamic. They respond to their environments better. They execute tactical roles into cover, adapt to your elevation during a gunfight, and have much better reactions to getting shot. The cars make noises now too! It’s a little thing, but it’s nice to see an improvement. Naturally, the sarcastic humor from the first game lives on. My personal favorite is Tannis. Her condescending view of the average people of society is reminiscent of perhaps the player’s view of the people of Pandora. Claptrap has returned with even better dialogue, and Handsome Jack is a reincarnation of General Knox, but with a better face.
Playtime in Borderlands 2 is eons for a game in this day and age. You can easily log 20 hours playing, and that’s without the sidequests. Start doing those and you’re looking at more than double that. But why would you want to explore all of Pandora by yourself? Convince three of your friends to make the purchase with you, and you’re looking at one of the best 4 player co-op experiences available. Each class can complement the others by playing off their strengths and weaknesses. Honestly, the replayability of Borderlands 2 is rivaled only by offerings out of Bethesda. You’ll want to start up a separate adventure with everyone on your friend’s list, and that’s before you even beat it yourself.
Don’t think all this playtime stretched out between multiple characters goes to waste. Guns can now be easily shared between characters with a storage system, and the more you play, the better you overall become. Let me explain. Gearbox introduced something called the Badass rank for each character. The more challenges you complete, the higher your rank becomes. Every time you level up your Badass rank, you have a choice to increase different stats, critical hit damage, max health, etc. These perks effect everyone one of your characters. Plus, the Badass rank is limitless! You’ll never be able to hit the cap(or so they claim).
The only real gripe I have with the game is some of the new items bring positive and negative effects. For instance, the new high capacity shields now decrease your maximum health. I’m sorry, but that seems a bit silly. Luckily, there are much better shield options for your arsenal. Another lesser example is the sniper class mod. It increases your sniper damage, but decreases your shield. This one I can deal with, but it’s still annoying. I can’t recall any types of equipment that negatively affected you in the first game.
Overall, Borderlands 2 is bigger, badder, and better. If you were a fan of the first one, I cannot recommend it enough. Same goes if you play RPGs, or if you’re the type of person who has to look in every nook and cranny. Completionists will be driven mad by this game with it’s never-ending Badass ranking system. It’s a quirky and action-packed shoot em’ up game for everyone. My complaints from the first game were fixed, and Gearbox added so many new features I could have never imagined. Overall, it is a solid improvement to the first game. A fine example of a sequel done right.