By Vamien McKalin | Sep 28, 2012 09:51 AM EDT
Borderlands 2, the sequel to the 2009 hit Borderlands, was recently released for the XBox 360. Read along for a full review:
Five years have passed since the events that took place in Borderlands; the Destroyer is dead, and the original vault hunters have gone their separate ways. However, something massive was brewing on Pandora, and a mineral called "Eridium" caught the attention of Borderlands 2 anti-hero, Handsome Jack. He controls Pandora as a dictator, from a huge supply base in the center of Pandora. The new characters and vault hunters of Borderlands 2 find themselves at odds with Handsome Jack when it is announced that a vault bigger than the last one exists on Pandora. Handsome Jack hires these vault hunters to find the new vault, but his intention is to kill them all so that he can claim the prize for himself. The plan backfires. Borderlands 2's story is exceptional compared to the efforts of the first game. It is not the best storyline in video game history, but it is good enough to keep players interested in finding out what will happen next.
Borderlands 2 has a distinctive look. The cell-shaded design is beautiful, and the overall design of the different parts of Pandora is a feast for the eyes.
Borderlands 2 really shines when it comes to gameplay. The game, like the first title, is a first-person shooter with elements of a role playing games. The game can be considered a loot fest, which makes the game one of the most fun games of 2012. At the beginning of the game, players can choose from a list of characters they want to use throughout the campaign. Each of these characters possess a unique skill which can be upgraded via a 3 point skill system after gaining XP from slaughtering any of the game's many creatures.
A staggering number of guns are available to choose from in Borderlands 2, although many of the weapons are similar to others with only certain upgrades like the ability to shoot corrosive acid setting them apart.
Players will be happy to know that Borderlands 2's Artificial Intelligence has been improved, which can make the game more fun and challenging than the first game. Enemies can now heal their teammates or use them as shields to protect themselves. This made single-player mode much more exciting.
Four player online co-op is back, and it has been improved. Gearbox fixed many of the problems found in the first game, including an issue with vehicles; now every vehicle comes with four seats, which means that all four players in co-op can fit in without needing a second ride.
What sets Borderlands 2 apart from the original game is that the majority of quests in the game are set in Sanctuary, which makes for easier traveling from finishing a quest to being paid. This is a welcome change from traveling to a bounty board in the middle of nowhere to be paid in the original Borderlands.
Gone are the first four vault hunters, replaced by new characters. Zero is the new Assassin class in Borderlands 2; he is very precise with a sword, and, surprisingly, he has a version of the Phasewalking ability that was used by Lilith in the first game. The ability is now called Deception.
The Gunzerker in Borderlands 2 is Salvador. He is good at dual-wielding big weapons and taking on a crowd of enemies, and that's the main purpose players will be using him for on the battlefield.
Axton replaces the previous Commando, Roland, and he does it in style. If all players want to do is shoot things with the help of a turret, then this is guy they will want to enlist. His abilities exceed those of Roland, which is welcome since Borderlands 2 is more challenging than the previous game.
The new Siren is Maya. She is not a brawler, so players might not want to use her in singleplayer. Maya is more of a support character; think of her as the Mage of the group. Her Phaselocking ability allows Maya to trap enemies in a bubble to hold them still while other players shoot them.
Borderlands 2 is a game worth playing for a long time to come. The number of weapons and side quests to meddle with in this game will take a long time to fully explore. Borderlands 2 may be the best contender for Game of The Year 2012. Gearbox has a winner with the Borderlands franchise, and gamers can probably expect many more of these games throughout the next generation and beyond.