Borderlands 2 plonks players down on the planet of Pandora where shooting bad guys and stealing their loot is the order of the day
Borderlands 2 isn’t exactly a huge departure from its predecessor. Like the original Borderlands, Gearbox’s new offering bolts the loot-and-reward progression of games like World Of Warcraft and Diablo III to a First-Person-Shooter engine. It then encourages players to go hog-wild in an endless quest for guns, gadgets and cash.
Borderlands 2: Plot
But in spite of this very basic sounding structure, Borderlands 2 is more than just a steroid-enhanced retread of Gearbox’s 2009 sleeper-hit.
The Texas-based developer has gone widescreen with its latest game. Everything from the game’s mechanics, to the collectible content, to even the massive wide open-world of Pandora has been first super-sized and then intricately detailed, in order to draw players in and make them invest oodles of their time.
Even the game’s story has been beefed up, although in the case of Borderlands, that isn’t saying much. The original Borderland’s plot wasn’t so much thin as it was anorexic, but for the sequel, Gearbox has added some welcome twists and turns as well as a lot of sharp dialogue.
Players take on the role of a Vault Hunter pitted against the evil Hyperion Corporation in a race against time to find a weapon capable of wiping most of Pandora’s population off the map.
Borderlands 2: Characters
Players have four character classes to choose from. There’s Axton, a Commando with a deployable turret, Zero an Assassin who can turn invisible, Maya the Siren, who can use her force field to yank enemies out of cover and Salvador, a Gunzerker, who can dual wield weapons.
Each class has a three separate talent trees the player can use to level up with XP earned through blasting enemies and discovering locales on Pandora’s huge open-world map. At low levels, they can boost health regeneration, weapon damage and shield regeneration and the like.
At higher levels, however, they turn into a walking slaughterhouse. Salvador, for example can dual-wield massive weapons like chainguns and rocket launchers, while Zero can generate a holographic decoy, allowing the player to remain invisible to opponents as long as they string attacks together.
Borderlands 2: Multiplayer
These abilities come in handy in the game’s co-op mode, which is probably the most satisfying way to play it. It’s here that Salvador’s decoy ability or Maya’s healing abilities are really brought into full affect, while Axton’s turret – which, at high levels, can attach itself to any surface and fire missiles – transforms into a handy fifth party member.
There are two things to remember about co-op mode however. Firstly, enemies are going to be four-times as tough to beat, mainly to prevent the game from turning into a cakewalk. Second, it’s only worth playing with gamers you know are good team players, as there’s no way to prevent selfish lone wolf types from taking all the best loot.
Borderlands 2: Gameplay
Ah, the loot: perhaps the most important draw in Borderlands 2’s arsenal. Not only do players earn XP from every enemy they kill, but they’ll also note that every dropped foe spits out an asset, be it in the form of ammo, mods, cash or guns.
This turns every gun battle into a potential treasure trove from which the player or players can profit. The fact that Borderlands 2 offers skill-enhancing Badass Tokens for racking up things like headshots, environment kills and explosion kills only sweetens the deal.
The only thing more addictive than looting victims is collecting an arsenal of weird and wonderful firearms. The box art proclaims there are millions of guns in the game, and though we’re not about to start a count, the volume of guns we’ve discovered so far is eye-popping.
Players will get hold of rifles that fire incendiary rounds, SMGs that spit electricity and bullets at the same time, shotguns that turn into grenades when you reload them and sniper rifles that fire acid-filled bullets.
Each brief loading screen players see when they switch to a new environment shows a new gun as a placeholder and in 17+ hours of Borderlands 2, we’ve yet to come across the same gun twice.
Borderlands 2: Verdict
There are one or two niggles, here and there; textures occasionally pop in and driving vehicles is nowhere near as much fun as it should be, but in light of the game’s strength, this is nitpicking in the extreme. Gearbox have served up a deep and beautiful beast of a game, and we urge you to book passage to Pandora forthwith. You’ll be glad you did.
Borderlands 2 release date: 21 September 2012
Borderlands 2 price: £39.99