Borderlands 2

Borderlands 2 can be best described as a Space Western First Person Role Playing Game that further  builds upon the gameplay elements introduced in its predecessor.  Chew on that for a bit.

Five years have passed since the events of Borderlands when our favorite vault hunters exposed the secrets of the Eridian Vault.  A mysterious man known as Handsome Jack has taken credit for the vault hunters’ actions and has claimed the wealth of the Vault for himself.  Doing so has allowed him to take over the Hyperion Corporation and gain dominion over Pandora.  Promising to clean the lawless planet up, Handsome Jack embarks on a campaign to exterminate Pandora’s existing colonist population and industrialize the planet.  Early in the game the mysterious Guardian Angel from the first game contacts you and explains that Handsome Jack must be killed due to some shady activity.  Jack’s full intentions are unknown and part of his plan involves finding an ancient evil named “The Warrior” that is located somewhere on Pandora.  He must be stopped before he becomes unstoppable.

Borderlands 1

The fearsome foursome.

From here you will set out on your quest to stop Handsome Jack and along the way players can earn experience by killing foes and completing in-game challenges such as getting a certain number of kills using a specific type of weapon.  As you gain levels from experience players can then allocate skill points into a skill tree that features three distinct specializations based on the character you have chosen.  Use this skill tree and the millions of weapon customizations to make your character a lean mean killin’ and lootin’ machine.

Here’s a quick look at this line-up of playable characters and their skill sets.

NameAxton: Soldier Class

Special AbilityScorpio Turret 2.0

Axton inherits the Scorpio turret as his special ability and depending on whether you choose the Guerrilla, Gunpowder, or Survival skill trees, you can alter the Turret in numerous ways.  You’ll be able to add extra guns to the turret, allow it to be, or the ability to stick it to walls and ceilings. If you’re looking for even more firepower you can eventually gain access to a second turret that can be deployed along with the first or turn your Turret into a small Nuke.

Axton

Axton: Soldier Class

NameMaya: Siren Class

Special AbilityPhaselock

Maya’s skill is called Phaselock and on its own this ability locks enemies in a floating bubble that prevents them from attacking.  If you’re looking to make it a much more useful tool then you’ll want to travel down the Harmony, Motion, and Cataclysm skill trees.  By spending skill points on the ability, you can eventually make it pull enemies towards you, explode upon expiration, slam foes to the ground, or cause them to change allegiance and fight alongside of you.

Maya

Maya: Siren Class

NameSalvador: Gunzerker Class

Special AbilityGunzeking

Salvador’s “Gunzerker” special ability allows him to dual wield ANY weapons in his inventory and go into a rage that would make John Matrix seem like a 5 year old girl at a tea party.  If you feel like getting especially wicked with the scourge of Pandora then you can invest in the “Come and get some!” skill.  Once equipped with it Salvador begins his rampage by flipping his enemies dual middle-fingers thus sending them into a rage.  Their anger won’t get them far as Salvador will gain full health and boosted defenses while this ability is running.  If you want to cause even more damage and spill some even more blood then you can increase the ability’s duration, reduce its cool down, or allow it to be used while you’re downed.  This class won’t be for fans of sniping or cautious fairy like defense, as most of the upgrades focus on pure firepower.

Salvador

Salvador: Gunzerker Class

NameZero: Assassin

Special AbilityDeception

Zero is a robot ninja assassin with plenty of substance to back up his oh so bad-ass look.  His Deception skill allows him to disappear which leaves enemies distracted by a hologram.  Zero can then resurface in an ideal sniping spot or move in close for some deadly melee attacks.  His upgrades allow his decoy to explode when it expires, grant extra melee damage for some up-close stealthy kills, or increase the odds of a critical hit when attacking from the sides or back. With his mix of long-range accuracy and deadly melee attacks, this robot ninja assassin is truly unique.

Zero

Zero: Assassin Class

Also returning to the game is the flawless 4 player drop-in/drop-out co-op system that allows you to buddy up on a moment’s notice.  On top of that, the near airtight control scheme returns as well as the often breathtaking cell shaded graphics and the outright black comedy sense of humor that was found in the previous title.  Borderlands 2 doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel as it sticks with the main staples that made the original Borderlands great.  Instead it builds upon that already great base model and delivers a much grander experience.

Borderlands 2

GET SOME!!

The world of Pandora is much livelier this time out as well.  The cities are bigger and more fleshed out and they are teeming with life which can lead to even more side quests which can lead to even more money.  Non-enemies will populate the game world more often as a city that you come across during the day time will be more populated then one you come across at night.  Not only have the cities and other inhabited areas of Pandora been upgraded but the vehicle physics have been upgraded as well.  No longer will you come to complete stop when colliding with a large rock or other object.  The upgraded vehicle physics will now cause a crashed vehicle to flip or roll out of control.  You also now have the ability to perform a power slide in your vehicle which can come in oh so handy when trying to escape.  That being said I wish there would have been some more vehicle heavy quests or a larger variety of vehicles.  The game does such a good job of allowing you to create weapons for your character that it would have been nice to be able to create a vehicle that suits their needs as well.  Perhaps the inclusion of a customizable ATV or Dune Buggy that you could trick out to match your player abilities?

Borderlands 3

Here comes the BOOM!

There has also been a dynamic quest system added to the game.  For example, taking too much time to save a friend while on a quest can result in their death and the failure of said quest, which will affect the story as the player progresses.  In addition, the AI system has been revamped in the game.  Enemy AI will encourage teamwork, such as flanking, as well as taking cover when wounded.  Shooting enemies will stun or cripple them depending on where they are shot.  Enemies are also smart enough to climb and traverse difficult terrain in order to pursue you or one of your partners.  Enemies will also now be able to interact with each other.  For example, certain enemies can heal their teammates, boost their shields for defense, or use them as shields to protect themselves.  All of this just means you will have to communicate with your partners even more which makes for an even more in depth experience.

Borderlands 2 has managed to do something that very few sequels have done, whether it’s in games or movies, and that is to top its predecessor.  Like The Empire Strikes Back or Godfather II this is one sequel that hits all the high notes and vastly improves on an already great foundation.  Whether you play it solo or alongside of some friends this game is not to be missed.

Game Details:

Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2k Games
Reviewed Platform: Xbox 360
Singleplayer 8
Multiplayer 9
Replayability 9
Graphics 9
Audio 8
Overall 9