Review by legend253
The Score the Game Deserved.
Intro: Let's face it. This game deserved a ten out of ten. IGN? Knocked it down for not having enough in-depth customization and sharing loot. Gameinformer? Well, they didn't list a single flaw in their interview (and I just reread it to check) so I don't know why it didn't get a 10 there. However, I am here neither to bash other reviewers, nor discredit them, I am here to give you a review demonstrating the score this game deserved and why.
Story (and the writing in general): It's no secret that Borderlands 1 was lacking a narrative. This was one of the things that Gearbox wanted to focus on. Enter, Anthony Burch. Love him or hate him, he is an excellent writer. With Borderlands 2, he gave us the story that the first game lacked. He created an incredible villain, one that made you want to stop him, he gave us the dialogue that the first game didn't have, and it had my friends and I in stitches. He gave us brilliant new characters (Hammerlock and Tiny Tina, for example). Long story short, Anthony Burch upscaled the narrative of Borderlands 2 to an insane degree, by balancing heavy emotional moments, with **** and **** jokes. The story progressed just as it should have, never missing a beat, excitement strewn in just where it needed to be, events that fueled the player's drive to defeat the villain, and made (or will make you) laugh out loud the entire time. Story gets a 10/10.
Gameplay: Almost exactly like the first game, Borderlands 2 has retained its tasteful loot system that keeps you wanting more. When I say "almost exactly", yes, I mean to say some things have changed. This is change for the better. The random procedural generation system that creates the guns has been improved. This system takes weapon "parts" (stocks, barrels, clips, etc...) from different manufacturers, and puts them together randomly. Each weapon part has different effects that alter the stats of the gun, creating, for lack of a better term, "phat lewt". The first Borderlands had about 5 parts that were put into the system and, using a counting system of some kind, the Guinness Book of World Records awarded Borderlands the award for "most guns in a video game" for having 17,750,000 possible weapons. Borderlands 2 has more than 5 parts put in (I don't know the exact number, so I won't mislead you), meaning, yes, even more than 17,750,000 possible weapons. Now that that's out of the way, the actual gameplay is also a blast. Be it shooting, looting, or listening to dialogue, this game has no issues. Enemies are a blast to blast, the guns (while some may be dookie) are always fun to find, the dialogue is always hilarious. To quote the one of the game's trailers, "have you ever thrown a grenade that homes in on an enemy, sticks to them, blows up into five separate grenades then covers everything in acid?" Well, actually, those do exist, I found one the other day, and they're insane. I mentioned grenades first, because guns are the main draw of this game. Think about it. If Gearbox put that much effort into making the grenades cool as hell, what did they do with the guns? Well, they made them (even more) kick ass than the first Borderlands. By giving each of the eight weapons manufacturers a defined gimmick (ie; guns that shoot mini-rockets, grenade launchers, plasma casters, richocheting bullets, guns that explode like grenades upon reloading) the badass level rises, improving every aspect of the loot system, the gameplay, the game. These aren't the only improvements made. A mini-map has been implemented, the user interface looks sharper, cleaner, overall better than the first game, your inventory screen doesn't look as cluttered as the first, the sidequests aren't useless fetch quests with zero entertainment value, and the maps are huge. Overall, there isn't anything this game actually does wrong. Even the character customization has been improved since the first game. Instead of just changing the color of your clothes, you can customize your head and equip new character skins (which, while similar to changing colors, actually give different designs on the outfits). Of course, in a game that boasts millions of guns, character customization should be an afterthought (check out Dragon's Dogma for that, it is an excellent game). Yet another improvement the Gearbox team chose was bigger skill trees. I believe 33% bigger was the advertisement. With a larger variety of skills, as well as "gamechangers" that augment your skill into something different entirely (ie; making your enemies fight for you, dropping two turrets instead of one, flipping your enemies double birds while drawing all aggro, and allowing you to chain kill enemies to stay cloaked longer) you want to level up, you want to get those skills, to try new builds. While Borderlands 2 is mainly an FPS, the RPG elements are definitely there, making the game a perfect mash-up of genres. Please note, if you are lacking Xbox Live, this is still an excellent game to own. I played through solo and I played through co-op (twice). The solo game is excellent fun, the co-op simply improves upon that. Of course, the splitscreen capabilities also knock the game up for offline play. Gameplay nets a 10/10.
Sound: There is no wub wub in this game. That alone should ease you. Kidding. The OST for Borderlands 2 is phenomenal. At moments of intense destruction and excitement, there is an epic theme playing in the background. In a western town, full of crooks and bandits, we get a twangy guitar with a rolling beat that exemplifies a western environment. The music is not the only excellent sound. Sound effects have been made brilliant as well. The guns sound fantastic. They may not be quite at BF3's level, but these aren't the same type of guns. Guns that need to sound futuristic, do. Pew pews, bangs, gwars, rrrrrrraoiwecaoief, galore. You cannot help but love the sound of the spin-up of a gun with multiple barrels. Voice acting is handled well, each character getting a VA that does their job fantastically. Dialogue is not wasted on characters, each thing they say is a bit of golden writing, dipped in awesome. There will be no disappointments with this game's 10/10 Sound score.
Lasting Strength and Replayability: The 30+ hour story is not a lie (unlike the cake). Sure you could run through it, skipping sidequests along the way, but believe me, you would be missing out. My first playthrough clocked in at around 40 hours. Almost every sidequest was completed in that first playthrough (there is one you can't do until the end of the second, and believe me, that is a hell of a quest). With four unique characters (and a fifth on the way), huge maps with plenty of exploration to be had, hundreds of challenges to complete, heads and skins to unlock, loot to be found, and easter eggs to be had, the game has an unreal amount of replayability. It is exceptionally hard to even try to be disappointed with how well this game came out. Replayability, yes, a 10/10.
Technological Presentation: Warning you now, this score will not have an affect on the total score because the glitches experienced vary from person to person (some experience none, some experience a ton). I did not encounter a single glitch in my (currently) in just under 3 days of total play-time. I installed the game to my HDD, so that may have something to do with it. From what I have read, however, there are no (genuinely) game-breaking glitches. By "genuinely", I mean glitches that break the game indefinitely. All the cases I researched had the player fix the game by exiting and reloading. However, there are still glitches (again, the score will not affect the total due to subjectivity and unreliability of results). Tech Presentation gets a 7/10 (at least it wasn't New Vegas).
Wrap-up: The story, gameplay, sound, and replayability are all brilliant. The presentation could have been a tad more polished, but it doesn't affect everybody. This game should have received tens from critics, it deserved that. A sequel that improves everything from the first game deserves a ten. This review was not written to smash other reviews, however. These are my feelings towards a brilliant game. Borderlands 2 gets a 10/10 from me.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Borderlands 2 (US, 09/18/12)
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