Review by GujinKami

"Worth the weight...?"

I'm not the person to look forward to many titles as of the recent couple of years. I've even had the philosophy of thinking negatively of a game before playing it. That way, when I play a game, I won't be surprised with disappointment, but I'll expect it and, at the most, be mildly surprised. This trend started around the release of Fable 2, where anyone can say that game was extremely lackluster compared to its predecessor. Borderlands actually took me by surprise, taking standard FPS elements, and adding in the Diablo mechanics of class-based skill trees, randomized loot, and fun to play with a group of friends. Really liking Borderlands, but able to point out its flaws, I was ecstatic to hear about the sequel. Well, after playing for an estimate 80 or so hours, maybe more, I think I can add my honest opinion on the long-awaited sequel.

Borderlands was never big on story, but the sequel puts a little more emphasis on it, taking place several years after the events of the first game, where you play as a vault hunter, searching for the legendary vault while fending off the big bad corporation who shares the same goal. That's the most I'd like to say without spoiling much, basically it shares the same plot of the first game with more twists, turns, and more characters that actually socialize and make you feel a part of the adventure. Since I'm discussing the story, I may as well include my take on the writing as well. Gearbox's original sets of dialogue are humorous, and there are a handful of characters that are just well done. However, there's also the cast that…well, if you've heard the term “Referenceland” and played this game, you'd understand. There isn't much original writing in this game, it's just chock full of references and jokes you've already heard before. This doesn't bother me entirely, since I take to heart that Borderlands isn't about the story, but it just comes off as really annoying sometimes.

Graphics and sound are virtually unchanged; some visuals look nicer due to the color palette being expanded upon, and new sound effects being included due to the addition of new items, weapons, abilities, and game mechanics. Generally, if Borderlands' graphics and sound didn't bother you, you won't see much of an issue in this department.

Now to touch on the main section that should be the highlight of any video game review, which is the gameplay. If you've played the first game, a majority of mechanics and style you remember from the first game will be unchanged. They did, however, touch up on quite a number of things. First off, the new characters' skill trees still consist of the usual “x increases by y” or “killing an enemy does z” skills you remember from the first game. The difference here is there are more to skill trees than just those types of skills. Skills that drastically change your action skill, grant your melee attack a new power, and every skill tree has its own use, where you can have diverse builds this time around, instead of the game prior where the majority was “Mordecai maxes Bloodwing and Sniping ALWAYS”

That's another nice touch; the classes aren't attached or should be built around 1 weapon type. Sure there are the occasional few skills, and an entire tree, dedicated to particular weapons, but it isn't as severely harsh this time around. And speaking of weapons, guns this time around are a lot more diverse as well. Manufacturers actually completely give the gun they make a different feel instead of the minor stat changes to guns like it did in BL1. Now you have guns that fire more bullets the longer the trigger is held, guns that'll fire in bursts when zoomed in, guns that get more accuracy the more you fire it, guns that you throw like grenades to reload. The diversity is just catastrophic this time around. And that just doesn't go for weapons. Grenade mods, shields, relics, and class mods are completely enhanced this time around, each having a drastically different property varying from each item type and dependent on manufacturers. I could go on, but to simplify it, the game's items are just completely enhanced. Gearbox also added unlockable skins and heads, cosmetic items to differentiate your character from someone else's, and my honest opinion towards it is neutral. It's nice to have, but spending half the time on the game trading and playing dress-up with your character just seems silly for a game based around getting new GUNS. Of course though, that's just my opinion.

I feel that discussing the positives first is best, as it keeps the reader engaged in wondering why the score is so low, and they won't brush it off as a “troll review' early on. While loot is still random, it only applies up to purples. Most oranges drop from specific bosses, while the drop rate of oranges, or even purples, from chests has been heavily reduced. While this does solve the problem of chest farming, it creates the new problem of boss farming, which is essentially the same thing as chest farming but with slightly more effort and slightly less reward from doing so. There's also the matter of eridium, which I didn't mention earlier for good reason. You gather the new currency doing quests and from enemy drops, but all you can spend it on is increased capacities, and 1 section post-game, which is so meaningless and ignorable since you get the eridium you lost in said area. A neat concept, but they wasted and ignored the potential.

This might also be a personal problem of me getting older or disdaining games more, but I could only really play through it once. I got my commando to 50, and through my gunzerker and mechromancer runs, it just felt extremely forced. I just wasn't having as much fun as I was the first run, and in a game based around random drops, that's kind of a problem. Even when I played with friends on a new character, and again this could just be me, it just wasn't enjoyable. I found myself half-assing most of the missions and raging at team mates for stealing kills when I was down, which by the way if you're reading this and you steal kills from someone who is trying to second win, you are not a team player and shouldn't be surprised when they stop playing with you, and honestly that isn't fun. I sadly had more fun in my experiences playing solo than I did with friends half the time.

End-game consists of you farming the same unique enemies again and again and again and again, hoping he drops that specific rare weapon or head that you really want. I make this sound boring, because it is boring. And the fact that Gearbox added various combinations of weapons and items to melt end game bosses, who are meant to be fought in groups, in a matter of seconds while playing alone is just silly. I'm not arguing that a cooperative game should be heavily balanced; I just find it sad that you can honestly get more farming done alone than in a group, and in a game that bases itself around the “Play with friends!” concept, things like that just shouldn't work.

At the end of the day, it feels like you're getting a new game, an amazing sequel that enhances on all the faults that the original game had, when in reality, it's basically the same game with a different shade of paint. You'll still be saving, exiting, and repeating actions in hopes that you get that one weapon, you'll still spend hours in town waiting for that one vendor to change stock, and you'll still stick to a few set of guns and items, since post-game there's less diversity, more of whoever has “that” gun or “that shield”. But hey, at least you can hear your favorite internet memes being shouted along the way!

Final Score: 6.5/10 Pick up if you have friends or it's on a Steam Sale.

Love,
Gujin


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 10/15/12

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


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