Borderlands was a game with huge ambition, limited by the technology available at the time, the uncertainty of a new IP and no guarantee that the game will sell well to the general consumer. It turned out, shooting crazed, lunatics in a barren apocalyptic world was incredibly popular, and the game went on to be a financial success. But it wasn’t without its problems. The environments became a repetition of one another, the story dragged on, there weren’t that many characters to truly connect with, all of which we mentioned in our review. Borderlands 2 is Gearbox’s opportunity to forget about budget, forget about financial security, and work on creating one of the most detailed, lively and explosive open-worlds ever.
Borderlands 2 Gameplay
Borderlands 2 has improved everything upon the original, and I mean everything. Got a little frustrated about having to pick up each piece of loot every 5 minutes? Now common loot like cash and ammo are automatically collected. Need to run down the road, but are hampered by your character’s limited stamina? How does unlimited stamina sound? Want faster ways of getting round rough terrain? Jump off those cliffs friend, characters in Borderlands 2 no longer take fall damage.
These little things help refine the experience, but it’s the big things that truly count towards the whole game. Starting with the campaign. If you’re used to Borderlands, it may be a somewhat shock finding yourself thrown from one area to another in a matter of hours. Environments no longer feel recycled like they did in the original and you won’t be coming back to the same old hub world for half the game. Instead, Borderlands 2 has a lot to throw at you, and it wants to make sure you know it.
Characters are now fully animated and bursting with life. You may recognise some familiar faces such as Scooter (not just over an intercom this time) and CL4P-TP, also known as Claptrap (even more annoying than ever). All four Vault Hunters from the first game also make a reappearance, serving as relatable allies in your quest to stop Handsome Jack finding the Vault and unleashing an unstoppable force upon Pandora. Did I forget to mention that part?
Handsome Jack is your main foe; charming, ruthless, almost definitely insane. He’s the ultimate antagonist of this mammoth adventure, and you’ll find him popping by every once in a while giving you some not-so-moral support.
In fact, all of the characters have been fleshed out. Whereas I criticised the first game for not having enough voice acting, in Borderlands 2, people are clambering over one another to get their voice heard, and the writing is hilarious. The only negative being that characters can sometimes start giving you important mission information right in the middle of a large action sequence. Kinda busy here!
And there is an absolute ton of enemies to keep you occupied. Pandora is even more diverse than before. You’ll be fighting a plethora of Hyperion robots, psychopathic bandits and mutated wildlife. New additions include Goliaths, who enter a fit of rage if their helmet gets knocked off, killing everything in sight including other enemies. Also, Stalkers are extremely quick reptilian things that can generate an electrical field, rendering them completely invisible for a short amount of time. Yes, they are as annoying as they sound. Still not convinced? Then just check out this huge image, detailing all 300 different enemies in the game, and prepare to be amazed.
Everyone remembers the first game for its weapons. But Borderlands 2 sets out to redefine what we mean by ‘a ton of guns’. Borderlands did have millions of guns, but it was obvious that there were only a set amount of graphical models, and it was only the gun’s colour and stats that changed as you play. Borderlands 2 has far more variety in the types of weaponry you can pick up, with some awesome new designs.
In the sequel you dictate the game, the game doesn’t dictate you. The pacing has been greatly improved over the original, and Borderlands 2 does a good job at making the gameplay challenging, but not impossibly hard no matter what level you’re at. This means that you can comfortably coast through the game, just playing the main missions without much difficulty. But don’t. The side-missions have been given some serious love, and are well worth exploring, whether it be for the awesome rewards, or hilarious writing. You can help Dr Zed operate on a writhing patient or investigate a crime scene in Sanctuary. Side missions also help you explore areas of Pandora you probably wouldn’t have found otherwise. Play them!
Borderlands was well known for it’s smooth co-operative multiplayer. So it’s unfortunate that with the Mac App Store version of Borderlands 2, multiplayer is not currently included. Even once the game gets a free update in 2013 with co-op capabilities, it will only be available between Mac App Store players. This will limit the amount of people online drastically. But the whole game is still extremely fun as a purely single-player experience.
Borderlands 2 doesn’t just overshadow its predecessor, it towers above it like the Statue of friggen Liberty… holding a Dahl Sniper with Explosive Rounds. The number of detailed environments, satisfying gunplay, huge cast of fantastic characters and of course, the loot grabbing, have been honed and refined to a level that Gearbox could only have dreamed of 3 years ago. Borderlands 2 is an absolute must on your Christmas list. Go get it.
Publisher: Aspyr Media Inc.
Price: $19.99 (£19.99)
Description: Borderlands, Taken to the Next Level
Pros: Truly incredible attention to detail and scope, fluid and satisfying gunplay, full cast of characters with laugh-out-loud voice acting and writing, much more variety in enemies.
Cons: No Co-Op.