From time to time a video game comes along that seems to capture elements widely favored by gamers on all platforms and across all genres. Borderlands 2 has surpassed expectations according to most people and critics alike. Many of the components to the game are so well-done and thought out that it all just seems to flow together in terms of story and game play, and with so many separate components coming together it had me worrying about disjointedness. The game is out for the PC, 360, and PS3. Some insignificant differences occur between each, but mainly along the lines of more detailed and immersive graphics in the PC version.
Borderlands 2 is first-person shooter with RPG elements along with great storytelling and in-depth involvement. The game starts off where the first game ended, but by no means is it a requirement to even understand this game. The game does a great job of allowing you to jump right into the story and into the action. Almost immediately you are interacting with the colorful, memorable characters inhabiting the world. The writing style makes each character distinguishable in their own way, and especially when compared to the first game. This helps make playing and fighting your way through the hordes of enemies more than just hoping for better loot. The quest or mission variety is incredible and when tied to the stylized locations, like an icy area with frozen bodies and slippery frozen patches of reflective water, to even a poison bog with green slime spewing monsters and crazed mutants screaming they’re hungry while you fight them off for your life and skin.
After the initial buzz of the art and writing style get used to, the next thing that tends to be noticed is the sheer variety of possible items in the game. Like so many of the games lately giving rewards or XP, like Call of Duty and the unlock system, or World of WarCraft with it’s itemization, Borderlands 2 pushes it to the next level. Never really before seen to this extent, the random item generation and types of guns in the game is staggering. As you head through the game, better loot will drop randomly, and based on your particular character’s focus (read: what you specialize in), picking your weapon loadout can get quite entertaining in its own right.
As for the differing characters selectable, each of the 4 has its own basic profile or shape and abilities. Like the lanky Boba Fett look-alike assassin, Zer0, who has the ability to vanish from view and create a holographic fake of himself while escaping to safety. He can then line up for a backstab, or rush in to help a fallen teammate. Another class is the Siren, Maya, who is a great support character as she is able to heal teammates or instantly revive a fallen teammate during an intense firefight. If all out offense is your thing, the gunzerker , Salvador, will suit your style well. Able to dual wield weapons, like a minigun and a rocket launcher for instance, the talent trees allow for dishing out the punishment as well as being able to take it. The final playable class at time of this review, as more are planned to be added over time, is Axton, the commando. A slightly more team oriented version of the gunzerker in many ways, the commando can drop an automated turret that will attack enemies and also draw their fire away from you and your team. Each class has its own unique abilities and roles to fill in a multiplayer game, and only more ingenious ways will be realized as you progress through the game.
Each of the characters has 3 of their own unique skill trees that are filled as you level up. On top of the normal “leveling” gamers are accustumed to, there are also Badass Ranks that are rewarded for various accomplishments that the game tracks, such as 1,000 enemies killed by melee, or X number of headshots etc. Playing through a second time on a different character allows you to choose whether to add these stat boosting Badass points to give you a perk for playing through multiple times. The constant feeling of progression and being rewarded really goes a long way to pushing the replay-ability through the roof.
While I’m not quite finished with the game, I can already tell you that the game feels fresh even after 30 hours of gameplay and the story doesn’t let up. Whether it’s pushing you to find what’s just around the next corner, be it a gun, a plot twist, or just seeing a new area, everything in the game feels rewarding. The elements have been tied together in such a way by developer Gearbox I highly reccomend this game to anyone that finds themselves even remotely interested, I promise you won’t be disappointed. Some of the best fun to be had is jumping into a game with a few of your friends and finding new and better ways of dispatching the enemies, all the while laughing at what you find. There’s bound to be something new every time, which is exactly what will keep pulling you back.