Review by Al0ne72
"POP goes the bandit!"
I never review games until I have fully completed them, and by that I mean conquered to the point where there is nothing left to do but redo everything I've already done. About a month ago, I had never heard of Borderlands, so I went and got both of them and played Borderlands 1 first. Having never heard of this game before, left me with unbiased opinions, which was very helpful because Borderlands is a very unusual type of game. Borderlands 2 is a RPG FPS (Role Playing Game First Person Shooter) where you control a character from the view of first-person, and run around in an open world following a story by completing missions/quests. I never usually compare games to their prequels, but some fans of Borderlands 1 would like to know the comparisons.
The biggest appeal to Borderlands is the variety of weapons you have to choose from. While there is a vast selection of different types of weapons, within these types of weapons are over a bazillion different guns to choose from. You might assume this to be an exaggeration, you would be incorrect. As a first person shooter that is also an RPG game, there are levels to your character, and alongside character levels are weapon levels that serve mostly as a level-requirement to equip them. You are given a backpack with an accumulating number of slots throughout the game, and have the ability to equip up to 4 guns at a time. In your inventory (backpack) you are able to carry more than just guns, there are also Grenade modifications that add effects to your grenades. There are Relics, which improve your characters statistics in various ways, class modifications that act as class-specific relics and may even add Skill Points in some areas, and different types of shields to protect you in many different ways. The entire game is all about loot, and comparing the various weapons you find, to the ones you currently have. The system of weapon variety doesn't end with statistics and types, there is also a Rarity scale, based on how uncommon the item is. This feature is similar to World of Warcraft's loot system, where the most common item would be presented with White text, followed by Green, Blue, Purple, and so on. This applies to all items in the game, including the accessories I mentioned before. A great improvement from Borderlands 1 was the models of the guns. In Borderlands 1, the main reason for weapon variety was the recycle of old weapons with different statistics to them, maybe additional attachments at most, but in Borderlands 2 they have made sure that you never come across a similar weapon more than once.
Sound. Every aspect of sound in Borderlands 2 was upon the best in video gaming history. While some games only flourish in their music, or only in their sound effects, or dialog, this game conquers all of whatever you can think of. The dialog was by far my favorite aspect of Sound in Borderlands 2. The characters are once again, very unusual, interesting, and crazy. Any humanoid enemy you come across will shout very weird things at you, any main characters have such hilarious dialog that will probably make it hard to focus on whatever you're doing. I've studied humor for years, even attending college to become a sitcom writer in the entertainment industry, and out of all the types of humor in the world, this game has my favorite king - good variety of irony, build-up, inside, and insult humor. The music is very colorful, and definitely colors the artistic environment of Borderlands and everything that makes this game unique. Music can be every important when creating a setting. With the right music, the entire atmosphere feels different, it adds excitement to action, comfort to security, and twists to mystery. The sound effects from all the weapons has been greatly improved from the previous Borderlands game, as well as sound effects from class abilities, explosions, creature ambiance, etc. My favorite part about the sound in this game, is that even after dedicating hundreds of hours of gameplay, I STILL come across random dialogs that I haven't heard before. It's amazing and hilarious!
The story. Not just the plot, but the contents of the story itself were not only a major improvement from Borderlands 1, but also an adventure in itself. What makes a good story, is logic, creativity, and a proper balance of surprises and key elements that exists in all stories. The story will take many twists and turns that you will actually care to recognize. What made this story better than Borderlands 2 was that every accomplishment actually felt like an accomplishment, and every tragedy actually felt like a real bummer. The game's content itself presents itself to care less about the logic of anything, as they are on a foreign planet and have the freedom to make their own rules however they wish. Yet, even after playing through the story more than 10 times, I have yet to find any flaws or loopholes in the story, giving it solid structure and plenty of space to add creativity - which is where it flourished. The story wasn't just another excuse for some action, which is what I love about the individual characters in the game. The characters in Borderlands act as if they know good and well that other games tend to conjure up some ridiculous or lame excuse to add gameplay content through means of quests/missions, and the characters actually commit to this! They will openly admit that what they request of you is useless at times, but at least you'll be rewarded! This element opens up a wide variety of quests that never get repetitive, and also makes room for some humor, as there is no 'taboo' when it comes to reasoning.
While the whole idea of the game is to collect loot, that loot must have a purpose, and that purpose is to complete missions/quests. The whole system of quest completion and mission objectives is better than any RPG game I've ever come across. While it's not a new feature to have the freedom to do multiple quests at once, it's pretty interesting how you can stop and pickup wherever and whenever you want. The quests constantly update themselves, at any time, you can stop what you are doing, and go do something else, and pick right back up where you were before. That's the whole idea of "open" world opportunities, but with this game, it has such a flexible system where you can stop what you're doing and do something else whenever you want, and never lose your progress elsewhere, this includes the main story missions.
The graphics. Again, a month ago I never even head of Borderlands, so I was a bit hesitant to pick up a game that appeared to be a red-neck cartoon shooter that I thought was one giant Flash game. I was gladly proven wrong when trying it out. Instead of applying artwork to 3D models and then animating them, they cell-shade the graphics. I prefer the graphics to be a lot more simple this way, because the graphics still maintained a variety of animations. When you blow something up, the contents of that explosion (fragmentation) actually react to surroundings and environment, rather than having an assigned projection path. This effect applies for everything in the game that is visible and can move.
The ability to replay is a key that most gamers look for. I'm personally contempt with calling a game good and only finding enough appeal to play it once through, but for this game, I just can't put it down. When describing re-playability, you risk spilling spoilers. I wish I could describe to you how you can make the game's solo content endless, but you'll just have to trust me when I say that it will take you a long time to actually "replay" this game. Basically, it questions whether the completion of the game is only just the beginning, or just another awaiting completion. I can safely say that the replay of this game is very customizable, in a sense that it can be different a 2nd or 10th time around, but it doesn't have to be. It's a very flexible game and at the same time, addicting too. I'm not even talking about Multiplayer either, even playing solo can be very entertaining for a long time. With its flexible gameplay system that I mentioned, along with its addicting gameplay, as well as the variation of customization and its story, it is by far the best pick-up game ever.
Every game has its flaws. My biggest annoyance in this game was how quickly I leveled up by completing all of the game's content. In Borderlands, you always have 1 Story Mission on your list of objectives, but very so often you will come across Optional missions, that typically reward with experience towards your level, money, and sometimes a weapon (or a choice between two). Each mission/quest has a level, and based on this level, compared to your character's level, a difficulty is determined. If you are a much higher level than your mission, the mission will be considered "Trivial" and if you are of a closer level to the mission, the difficulty is considered "Normal" and it goes on from there. The problem with this, is that the Main Story missions become Trivial, should you decide to do even a small number of Optional missions. Other times, if you are called upon to defeat a certain number of enemies for a mission, and then die, you will have to start all over again with all of them respawned and this turns out to be a bigger experience-grind that I did not wish to do. I understand that going the extra mile in video games typically bares reward, but I would have loved to have been forced to do most of these Optional missions in order to keep up with the difficulty of the Main Story's missions.
In Borderlands 2 you are given the choice between 4 classes (and a 5th if you pay Gearbox extra money for DLC) and depending on which class you choose, you have a unique ability or power. Upon reaching level 5 you will be able to use that ability by unlocking it in the "Skill Tree" which is a list of character improvements similar to WoW's Talent Point system. These improvements can be anything from improving the abilities of your unique power, adding effects, all the way to simple character improvements such as gun accuracy or reload speed, or shield regeneration. The problem with this, is that you must gain a large number of levels in order to gain access to most of these points. You will not enjoy the full capabilities of your class until the end of the game. For the first half of the game, you are nothing more than a typical character with a small trick up your sleeve, with some small benefits. Had they moved some Skill Points around, I would have preferred to add benefits to my unique ability before benefits to my character. This is because of simple math, percentages don't matter until the numbers you're affecting, are large. For example, increasing my gun damage by 50% seems really nice, but not when the actual damage increase is going from 20 to 30, it barely makes a difference.
Glitches. Video games in the modern PS3/360 generation are becoming a lot 'lazier' with making sure games are flawless, now that the internet is a bigger world than the real one. They rely on the consumer to be the testers of the game and expect everyone to stay connected to download patches and bug fixes. What makes a game sensational is its ability to avoid this and Gearbox has already gone many extra miles in failing at this. I wonder when the game will actually be done. Some glitches in the PC version include the mouse's interactions with the interface, misclicking on things that the cursor is clearly hovering over. Often times, during 2nd wind you will kill an enemy but the kill for that enemy will not register in time for your resurrection, and you will die and return to where you died with the corpse of the enemy you were trying to kill to stay alive. There are invisible barriers in some locations that appear to be accessible. I once got hit by a train and died instantly from standing in a room that was apparently above the train tracks, Lynchwood, near the beginning.
- In conclusion -
The goods outweigh the bads by such a longshot that I cannot be bothered by its flaws one bit. Every time I am affected by any flaw in this game, I find myself immediately forgiving it and continuing to enjoy the incredible features of this game. Before I started playing, I asked people what this game was like, it's main appeal, the general idea of it... Everyone compared it to other games, numerous games that I won't mention, they said it was like a FPS version of those games. I had never played those games so maybe when you first try this game out you will recognize similar features from other games but I can assure you that you will not find these features from every video game you've played, all in one, like Borderlands. This game is worth more than just a try, I wish more people gave it a chance.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/15/12
Game Release: Borderlands 2 (US, 09/18/12)
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