Review by smajere

"A two day review"

This is a review of Borderlands 2 after 2 days of solid play. If you've never played the original Borderlands, you don't need to in order to enjoy it. Borderlands 2 is an FPS RPG, or a first person looter as it's affectionately called. You'll spend most of your time killing baddies and looting ammo and weapon upgrades while pushing through the main story. When the original Borderlands came out the tag line was "FPS and RPG made a baby!". B2 feels like the child that grew up -- more polish, more guns, more killing, more everything!

If you're a fan of the previous Borderlands, some of the changes may initially disappoint you. However, after two days of play, I've found them to be changes for the good! The biggest change was the removal of weapon levels. No longer do you get better with a particular weapon through continuous use. At first, I was confused by the removal of this game mechanic as it rewarded original Borderlands players and made it so you didn't have to use Assault Rifles with Roland or SMGs with Lilith -- you simply got better with whatever weapons you wanted to focus on. This system has been replaced with the Badass system. You now get Badass levels for completing in-game challenges for weapons / stages / storyline events / crazy random stuff and accrue Badass tokens. Tokens are spent on *permanent upgrades* that affect ALL of your toons for the rest of your B2 experience. Badass Levels have no level cap! The more you play B2, the better your toons will get. Forever and ever. And if you want, at the press of the Triangle button, you can turn off all of the benefits (and turn them back on just as easily) -- in case you want to start a fresh toon without all of the OP. Only crazy people would do that, though...

To be clear, these BA levels are not your character levels. After many hours of play, I realized why this is a better system than the old B1 -- you are no longer forced to choose 2 weapons to specialize in. You can freely swap out weapons based on elemental choice / ammo availability. You don't get locked into a certain weapon style choice that you have to make early on in the game. Speaking of character levels, there are a lot more base skills to spec into when you do level up. The four new classes (variations on the old) have much more depth in their trees and meta-builds for higher level toons are going to be more complex and less cookie cutter than B1 was.

Getting back to those who've never played a Borderlands game before, if you like RPGs but don't like FPS so much -- give this game a try! It's got stat min/maxing, level building focus and weapon customization that even the nerdiest statistician will enjoy. If you don't like numbers, but like blowing things up, fret not: B2 gives you simple visual queues with green up-arrows and red down-arrows to let you know how one weapon / mod / shield booster / grenade compares to another.

I'm not going to ruin the storyline for anyone. Suffice to say, revenge is a dish you will serve and re-serve with bullets, fire, electricity, acid, explosions and more, and B2 does a great job of setting up the main villain and giving the player a reason to want him dead! There's lots of appearances from the original four heroes of B1 and so far, I've enjoyed the plot and it's execution tremendously!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 09/24/12

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

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