Review by D87Cook
Salute the joy puke
Borderlands is a soul-dominator game. The digital lusting of guns and loot keeps you drawn in for so long that your girlfriend contemplates ways of hiding the game from you. I can speak from experience, because I spent north of 200 hours looting the original Borderlands title. I can't explain how pumped up I was for the midnight release of Borderlands 2. I bought 2 bags of Doritos and a case of Mountain Dew in preparation. No wonder I'm fat!
Borderlands 2 rejoins the world of Pandora five years after the vault hunting of the first game. Roland, Lilith, Mordecai and Brick all return for the sequel, but they are no longer playable characters. Gearbox decided to take them out of your hands to better explain their stories alongside the background and plot surrounding your new and improved playable heroes.
Axton the Commando takes on a role not too different from Roland in the original, but geared more towards offense. The healing aspect of the class moves onto Maya, Borderlands 2's resident Siren/Elemental/Chick. Maya's Siren ability manifests as a Phaselock...where she traps an enemy in another dimension and pummels them with endless damage. Your new sniper is Zer0, possible robot, confirmed jerk. He is your best option at long range as well as melee range depending on how you level him. And last but not least...except in the height category, we have the Gunzerker, Salvadore. His special ability is to gunzerk...which is to say whip it out and shoot people to death with it. Equipping a second gun gives little Salvie twice the damage dealing potential. Big things in small packages, huh?
The story, and there is one this go-round, encompasses your group of Vault Hunters as they try and take out Handsome Jack, Hyperion's new boss. In the beginning, Jack tries to kill you. Then you decide to kill him. It's all very complicated. Everyone seems to return from the original game with more flare. Zed's a little more bitter about his lacking of a medical degree. Scooter lost another chromosome. Even Angel (the voice) returns and she has an entire face now.
The raunchiness has been turned up, and it's noticeable from the very beginning when you're running around with Claptrap. Borderlands 2 is loaded with nasty and all fans of the series will absolutely love it.
Graphics - 9.5/10
It's not designed to be the newest revolution in graphical design, but the art-style really lends itself to the games. The environments have been expanded to include more than sand and dirt. You begin in a snow-covered mountain, but soon you'll find yourself in lush green fields. Of course, you have your wastelands too, but the game is no longer centered around them. This also gives more variety to baddie-styles. Bullymongs and Hyperion forces name just a select few. Even the menus have been revamped and look fantastic. Borderlands 2 doesn't blow it's predecessor out of the water, but it looks much more refined. You can lose yourself in the environments.
Sound - 10/10
Nothing says good morning quite like the sound of a Bandit Technical being nailed by a train. Your second trip to Pandora sounds a lot like your first, but everything just...fits better. The voice-overs have more humor. The whiz of the bullets is a little more whizzy. The music during extreme firefights really creates a mood of urgency. However, Handsome Jack's voice acting is the best addition to the game. He buys a pony made from diamonds and names it Butt Stallion. I'm not 10 but I laughed like I was when he told it to say hello. I have absolutely no issues with the sound presentation.
Story - 10/10
No, the story is not the best ever, but there is one. You find all the other characters. You talk to people. Marcus shoots people who ask for refunds, Claptrap does dubstep and Crazy Earl is still crazy. If you're looking for an in-depth and heartwarming tale of love, Borderlands 2 has nothing to offer you. The story's there, and that's just perfect for me.
Gameplay - 9.5/10
The back of the box says "Shoot, Loot and Joy Puke". First off, that's worth a 5 on it's own merit. The game plays like your usual FPS. The controls work well. The abilities work nicely. No issues with control. Blah blah blah. Shooting people results in an explosion of loot, whether it be ammo, cash or guns. However, an issue with the original was that you had to hit a button to pick up the cash. No longer says Gearbox! Now you pick it up automatically, and this brings a smile to my face. It doesn't always work, but then again neither does using my savings account. No one's perfect. Beyond this, if you played the original Borderlands, remember everything about it and then make it all better.
Replayability - 9/10
I've subtracted one simply because of the lack of desire I have to replay certain missions. I absolutely love killing bonerfarts, but finding a murderer in Sanctuary isn't very entertaining. However, adding a partner to the mix adds up to a whole 'nother level of awesomeness. The enemies become stronger, the loot becomes more plentiful and the laughs don't stop until you fall into a gamer coma at 3a.
+ Takes Borderlands and makes everything a little bit better.
+ New classes and characters work very well.
+ New environments give the game a great scenic variety.
+ There's only 1 Claptrap.
+ Highly enjoyable primary antagonist
+ More loot!
+ Plenty of DLC scheduled (including newly released Mechromancer)
- Lacks a little of the original's charm.
- Tougher to obtain Legendary Weapons
Borderlands 2 is a massive hit that anyone with $60, a gaming system and a general understanding of awesome should pick up. It's one of the best examples of console gaming still being able to stand on it's own. I give Borderlands 2 a 9.75/10 overall. I'd give it a perfect 10, but there's a level cap. Post-DLC? I'm smelling what Gearbox is cookin'...
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Borderlands 2 (US, 09/18/12)
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