Borderlands 2 Review (PC)

Greetings Minions! I’m your very own personal R3-V1EW unit, but people just call me Dave. Welcome to your introduction and orientation session on the Borderlands – over the next several days, we’ll be teaching you basic and fundamental skills to help you survive out in Pandora’s most inhospitable areas. The training will be tough, the nights will be long, and you’ll probably find my chirpy and slightly “in-your-face” voice really annoying by the time we’re finished. Don’t worry if you find yourself falling behind though – you’ll probably die within the first few minutes anyway!

Sorry – thought I’d have a bit of Claptrap-inspired fun before we got down to business. This kind of tongue and cheek façade basically sums up what your Borderlands 2 experience will be – from the opening credits to the closing sequence, this game throws just as much humour and gags as it does mobs for you to kill – and it’s brilliant. Some of the actual gameplay may be a bit ‘meh’, but for once it’s off-set by a brilliant cast of characters, with some cracking dialogue and hilarious moments. They even pay subtle homage to other current jokes and memes – like that bar patron who said they used to be a Vault Hunter before they took an arrow to the knee...

Probably one of my favourite characters

Even the playable characters fit into that praise, although they don’t do much talking themselves. You can hear them fire off the odd catch-phrase during combat, and in a co-op match these extend to a short selection of quips at each other, but aside from that the only real ‘character’ you get from your characters is through external means, like Echoes or other audio logs. The player ‘classes’ in Borderlands 2 fit in that weird zone where they feel familiar, yet not familiar at the same time. Axton, the Commando, is the closet to being a carbon copy, with his turret ability being the same as Roland’s, although his skill trees are slightly different – he makes for a good support character whilst also being able to deal some heavy damage provided you pick the right skills.

As for the others, they are slightly more diverse: Maya is another Siren, like Lilith, but her Phaselock ability is more to do with crowd-control than area-damage/stealth. Phaselocking essentially renders a single mob helpless for a short period of time, taking them out of the fight and making them vulnerable, and this ability can be enhanced to act like a magnet, induce slag, and all kinds of other crazy stuff. Maya can also skill-into being a healer, if that’s your thing. Salvador is a variation of Brick, although instead of being a Bezerker he’s a Gunzerker, in the sense that his only skill is to dual-wield. Skill him up the right way through and he can do this for longer and just deal out all kinds of crazy damage. Last but not least: Zer0, the only truly ‘new’ class of the game (unless you count the Mechromancer Gaige), who is an assassin who can either skill into being deadly with a sniper-rifle, or deadly up-close with his Decoy + invisible ability – eventually you can get chains going and just be stabbing all the people in the back.

The skill tree is split into three distinct sections, which highlight different aspects of a class’ nature. Realistically, you’ll only be able to specialise in one or two

Individually, the classes are able to hold-out on their own provided you play it smart and play to their respective strengths. Like the first game though, this really is an experience to be shared with others – even if it’s just grabbing a housemate or a spouse and playing split screen together (Tried that as well, it was a lot of fun), although it should be noted you can only have two playing locally – to get the full four you need to go online, and the game scales itself depending on how many people are present. Don’t worry about getting confused or dumped into the game at a random point though, Borderlands 2 manages to keep everything straight so you can go back and do parts you’ve missed out on (if you join a party that’s ahead, for example). Your level, weapons etc… stay constant though, so it gives you a leg up on earlier missions.

The world of Pandora itself is again similar yet different – you’ll travel through a wide variety of places and environments, with unique enemies to go in each (although there are bandits literally everywhere), what’s really impressed me though are the quests. Sure, they’re not all perfect – you get the odd mundane one and you can spot some MMO stereotypes as well, but they are varied and have you going to a wide variety of places to do a wide-variety of things, and again, all wrapped up in that classic Borderlands charm through dialogue. There’s not so many side-quests as to completely distract you from the main plot-line, but there’s enough to give you other things to think about, and it’s all XP at the end of the day.

Maya's Phaselock is actually pretty handy, and deadly with the right skills

If we were to level any specific criticisms about Borderlands 2 it would be the whole guns thing. Yeah, we get it, the game has all the guns ever, but to be honest a lot of them are pretty samey, with maybe a new adjective or stat change here and there. The main problem we have with it though is that every time you find a new gun that *looks* like it might be better, you have to stop and look at it. Most of the time it won’t be, or it’ll be kind of better but basically you have to make a choice between DPS or, say, an added elemental effect – it breaks the flow of the game. Not to mention your inventory fills up and there’s no vendor around. If there’s one thing that bugs me, it’s leaving behind perfectly good loot. It’s not game breaking by any means, just a bit of a hassle. Travelling around can be a bit of a pain as well, and personally we’re not a fan of Borderland 2’s style of save system, but these are all subjective matters. The only thing we will say is that it’s annoying when enemies re-spawn when you haven’t even left the area yet.

Say what you want about the original Borderlands, it sold enough to bring us another one – for the most part the second game has fixed or improved the things about the original game that let it down. Beyond that though, this is one funny, entertaining game that should hopefully provide you with plenty of entertainment over the coming weeks, especially with DLC already planned and on the way. Alone it can be a bit grindy (you could say that about a lot of games mind) but even if you just have one friend to play it with, you’ll find your money well spent. Just don’t try taking on Terramorphous by yourself. Seriously. Don’t do it.

Top Game Moment: Hard to pick… so many good lines, but honestly? The opening sequence is pretty boss!

Platform Played: Xbox 360

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By stuntkid (SI Elite) on Oct 03, 2012