Review by Horridhal

"A good game, a terrible Borderlands"

Allow me to preface this review by saying I -loved- the original Borderlands. I still play it to this day, and I probably will until the next gen comes out. However Borderlands 2, without getting into things I will cover in my review, is a PALE successor to such a great game. It is nothing more than an overhyped sequel which removes all the things the original did well. But let's get into how it does that:

Graphics(8/10) - Graphically this game is superb if you enjoy the 'cartoonish' style of the original like I did. It follows the same formula of using exaggerated and cartoon like characteristics of the original, while meanwhile incorporating the advances it had over the original in terms of money/tech advances made since the prior release came out. There are some minor problems with it, such as repeating spray painted symbols over and over, and many of the enemies you will encounter are just re-skins of a guy you killed 2 seconds ago in another area. But overall the game has been polished well.

Gameplay(3/10) - This is one of those areas that this game failed in. The shooting mechanics are well done, sure, but any call of duty can have good shooting mechanics. The problem is that, for whatever reason, GBX decided to focus on making this game feel more like something you -have- to play with other people. I have a strong grounding in single player games, those are my favorite type, however Borderlands 2(B2 from here on) makes such gameplay annoying, unforgiving, and a complete waste of time. In the games -normal- mode this doesn't come into play. However the true game starts in True Vault Hunter Mode(TVHM) in which all enemies are given higher levels to match the players level for the replay.

In TVHM the scaling is ridiculous. Rather than add any real difficulty by giving enemies tactics or teamwork or anything else, instead the enemies are given MASSIVE pools of hit points and MASSIVE damage capabilities. It isn't unlikely for an enemy to shoot you and put you into "Fight for your life"(FFYL) mode in 2-3 shots. Now in games where cover is considered part of the norm this would be acceptable. In B2, however, an enemy with a shotgun can(and will) hit you from halfway across a map leaving you dying with no way to kill it from the same distance. The 'difficulty' of the game is nothing more than a massive smoke screen showing the failings of the A.I. system that was never fully realized.

To be fair, there is no real penalty for dying. You lose some cash, which you could use at vendors(think soda machines) to buy weapons and ammo. However the vendors -rarely-(and by rarely I mean maybe 2-3% of the time) have anything -worth- spending the money on so no big loss. Also when you die you will respawn at a New-U station(basically a checkpoint) that you last passed. From there you can generally pretty easily return to where you were. But be prepared, because you will die a lot. The cover in this game consists of broken pieces of junk lying around which, generally, the PhysX system won't recognize for you thus you can, and will, get shot through it.

In a game billed as a "Shoot And Loot," the biggest failing of this game is in fact the LOOT. This crap is stupidly hard to find. In the original installment enemies would dr the weapon they were shooting you with. In fact many of the best weapons were found via normal enemies that you just walked around and killed. In this game,p that system was scrapped. Now, instead of being rewarded for difficult gunplay segments, you are lucky to get a vanilla enemy to drop even -basic- gear. In fact much of the TVHM gameplay is spent searching for level adequate weapons(due to the terrible scaling issues) and becomes nothing more than a grind and farm fest. To some this might seem like fun, however to those of us who played the original this is a -massive- failing within the game. Certain enemies(bosses) have a higher % of dropping higher quality loot, but those %'s run in the .0x range. Also, the bosses have a locked loot table(meaning they will drop specific guns) rather than having an open chance to drop anything. This is a curse as much as it is a blessing,

To further exacerbate this problem is the apparent MMO push of "balancing" done by GBX. Recently they nerfed a legendary piece of gear that made soloing some of the tougher bosses in the game(farming them) easy. In a game that should be single player based such 'nerfs' are unacceptable. The way the game is designed -forces- you to farm to find good gear. Rather than making this easier they chose to make it more tedious than it already was.

I could go one but I'd spend days on this single section, suffice it to say this game is nothing more than a farm-fest that will cost you 100's of hours to find the specific gear you want. Those hours are not -fun- as they will have to be spent killing the -same boss the same way- 100's if not 1000's of times. There is no real end game content outside of doing so.

Sound(9/10) - not much to comment on here. Guns sound like guns, explosions sound like explosions. Hard to screw this up. I will say that you personal characters dialogue when getting shot or killing something eventually gets really old. They say the same things over and over and over. Adding to the tedium felt by gameplay.

Story(5/10) - the story line is decent, if a bit cliched. Basically you are a vault hunter looking for treasure. A weapons company CEO named Handsome Jack(dude wears a mask) tried to kill you and anyone who doesn't agree with him. Your job is to get revenge/stop him from completing his master plan.

It's all been done before, and while better done here than in some other places, there are far more inventive story lines in other games. The actual dialogue is funny sometimes, but really it's just a bunch of jokes from Internet meme's and a whole crapton of toilet humor that covers glaring flaws in writing. It's like the writers wrote the story, saw it only filled about 3 hours of gameplay, and had to scan every website ever created to find jokes to fill the other 90% of the game.

It's decent the first 2-3 times you play the game, after that it is monotonous. Also, since the developer wanted to -make you watch it- there is no way to skip the cutscenes. Expect to see the same s*** every time you play the game with no way to bypass it. Yet another terrible oversight.

Other(dlc)(5/10) - thus far there have been 2 campaign style dlc's added and one playable character added. The character, in my opinion, came out so soon after the game release that it should have been included in the actual game. It was obvious that it was ready to go on release, and even more obvious that not including it was just a way to further bilk people out of 10$. The character(Gaige) doesn't get anything special in her storyline. She just has different talent trees. Her story is the -EXACT SAME- as the 4 vanilla vault hunters.

The first dlc, or Captain Scarlett's Pirate Booty, is nothing more than a 2 hour foray into seeing how many crass and childish jokes the writers could fit into a story. It is, like most other portions of this game, a tedious grind. The NPCs dialogue is rarely funny(and in fact very annoying) and adds literally nothing to the game. It also introduces a few new 'raid' bosses and a new weapon type called seraph weapons. The seraph weapons are overall weak and rely on you obtaining seraph crystals from the raid bosses introduced in amounts that are just stupid for what you get.

Also, the raid bosses have a static time lock(more MMO BS) of 24 hours. Meaning once you kill them you have to wait a full day to go do it again. As previously stated this is part of an MMO style not seen in the original and not alluded to in any of the pre-release hype from GBX. Blocking content in a game is lame.

The second dlc is better, but not by much, it's called Mr. Torgues Campaign of Carnage. In this you are pitted in a tournament style(sounds like something it isn't) game against other people from pandora to find a new vault. In about 20 minutes you go from number 50 rank to number 5 rank and from there you must fight boss style people to continue moving up. Mr. Torgue is the -1- saving grace of this dlc. He is like an over the top Randy Savage impersonater obsessed with "EXPLOSIONS." He is hilarious, but again he is only present to hide the glaring flaws of the dlc. Time locked raid bosses return in this one with a slightly better done raid boss who doesn't OHKO you but overall it isn't as good as it should be. The campaign here will run you about 2-3 hours and is dissatisfying at the culmination.

Overall(4/10) - I really wanted this game to be great. I really did, but it isn't. Massive flaws, MMO mechanics in single player games, bugs, bad scaling, terrible looting, etc just make it crappy. It's worth a rent, but don't waste your money buying it. It isn't borderlands, it's COD/World of Warcraft with different guns. It sold based off the success of the original, yet didn't incorporate anything the original pioneered. It's a shallow entry(and maybe a killing one) into what was a great franchise.


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 01/07/13

Game Release: Borderlands 2 (US, 09/18/12)


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