Borderlands 2 Review – PCSeptember 27, 2012
Welcome back to Pandora!
I am a huge fan of the first Borderlands game and I’ve sunk countless hours of my not-so-free time into it. I agree with those who found the first game boring, to an extent. The color scheme of Borderlands was quite monotone and bleak, which contributed to the story, but turned Pandora into a lonely place to be. However, when friends were invited to multiplayer cooperative play, the game became a different beast entirely. Indeed, Borderlands was a heck of a lot more fun when you shared the experience with friends. Aware of the disparity in the general entertainment value between single and multi-player modes in its predecessor, I was wary about playing Borderlands 2 alone at first. I was pleased to discover that the game is just as much fun solo as it is with friends.
I was a little nervous at first because the game started in a snow setting and all I saw was white everywhere. That quickly changed. The first thing to jump out at you after you’re done with the winter setting was the variety of color available in the game’s menus, environments, characters, vehicles, NPC’s and monsters. It’s all over the place. The player is presented with beautiful vistas and it won’t kill you to stop and take in the view from a high peak a few times during the game. Well, it won’t kill you if you went ahead and killed everything around your chosen vantage point beforehand. The highly detailed scenery and graphics adds to the player’s total immersion. Having the ability to pull players completely into the world of Pandora makes Borderlands 2 exactly the kind of first person shooter I prefer to play.
The second thing I noticed is this planet is not entirely gun-free. The first Borderlands packed enough weaponry to take over a sizable chunk of Africa and hold it if you had enough hands to use them all at once. For your second foray into Pandora, Gearbox made sure you had enough arms to venture out into the more developed nations and single-handedly install martial law for the next few decades. And they did so with weapons decked out in fabulous plumage! My gun might come in purple and orange and will not blend into any kind of foliage, natural or otherwise, but it will burn/shock/corrode/explode your face for the rest of your now very, very short life. In fact, there are so many objects to shoot other objects with that it becomes hard trying to decide just which pea-shooter to equip. A lot of time was spent staring at menus full of guns as if browsing through an arms dealer’s catalogue, with a good amount of that time in the middle of a gunfight.
If you fell in love with the entertaining characters of the old game, you won’t be disappointed with Borderlands 2’s inhabitants. The same cast of characters from the original release is back. My headset constantly exploded with laughter due to the game’s storytelling and the witty remarks made by the NPCs we interacted with. It is also worth mentioning that such laughter would break out while in the middle of a massive automatic weapon free-for-all. The radio chatter during the action delivers commentary amusing enough to make you forget that you’re actually trying to turn heads into tomato paste. The charming and endearing nature of the citizens of Pandora serves to add flavor to the goings-on of this planet. The story wouldn’t be the same without people of questionable motives and inclinations. This had the effect of my wanting to repeat missions; I didn’t mind replaying when friends weren’t quite caught up to the points of the story I’ve reached.
Those who’ve played Borderlands will get dropped (quite literally) into the controls they’ve grown accustomed to. Not much has changed in the way you move around and manipulate your massive array of armaments. For the inititated, you’ll find the controls intuitive and easy to get a handle on. This is good, as you’ll face down creatures whose primary interest to end your existence soon after the opening cinematic ends. The only reason I can’t call this game a never-ending gunmageddon is because, from time to time, it does allow you a moment’s respite from all the flying ammunition wishing to make your skull its final destination. This is so you can go shopping for guns, compare the guns you’ve acquired to each other, drive to the next place so you can use your guns or go gambling…for more guns. Oh, man, it is fun to be on this planet, and the game is a constant reminder of the real world being for suckers. The only reason I’m not playing right now is so I can write this review.
It is necessary to stress that I actually purchased this game pre-release and called dibs on the review. A review copy was supplied to Metal Arcade courtesy of Nvidia (which Kayla used for her second opinion), but I had already plunked down the cash. I was in near-jittery anticipation of the official launch. I truly was not disappointed and felt I had my money’s worth only a few hours into the game. There are those who played the original Borderlands and went through the game in its entirety multiple times and the same will hold true for Borderlands 2. If I were you, I’d quit reading about it and get the game. Then, convince all of your friends to play it. After you’ve done that, plan your meals around playtime for the next few weeks or you’ll find yourself shoving a hoagie into your mouth because you’ve played for hours and had forgotten to eat. Good advice.
You awake in a lone tundra, the chilled air biting at your cheeks and instead of the sweet kiss of death, you’re greeted by none other than that annoyingly helpful CL4P-TR4P (Clap-Trap). From the moment I rose from the icy wasteland, I was enthralled with Borderlands 2. The art style and the details of the environment instantly drew me into the game’s atmosphere. I played both solo and co-op, and found the experience to be more enlivening and streamlined than the first game. The choice of weaponry varies with level, but I found myself compelled to constantly possess a more advanced gun than my last; I particularly admired the fire bullets. As with most co-op games, the enemies and objectives became more advanced when more players joined the fray, but the loot became more abundant. The tasks themselves didn’t have me rage-quitting or beating my head against my computer desk; it’s a pleasurable gaming experience that pulls you into its story. I don’t care how badass you think you are, an incredibly hard game loses its appeal fairly quickly. Or maybe that’s just me.
Nvidia’s PhysX engine has a tangible effect on the gameplay itself. When turned on, particle effects become much more detailed, both when shooting weapons and in the environmental effects surrounding you, such as gusts of snow and debris rolling off cliffs. Bullets shot against rocks spray debris everywhere, and shell casings pile up at your feet. When PhysX is set to high, there are some great fluid effects. Pools of water or other fluids react when shot at, walked through, or even when they interact with other fluids. Cloth simulation interacts with the previously mentioned effects, all rendered in real time on the GPU. These are all only graphical upgrades, but it helps to make your stay on Pandora that much more immersive. It’s incredible to see stuff like this when back in the day I was satisfied playing with 16-bit Sega Genesis; it makes me excited for the future of gaming.
Seeing as I’ve played Borderlands 2 for hours upon hours, and haven’t lost interest in its gameplay, I find the game to be a wise purchase. When I put money into a video game, I want it to be something with a lot of replay value or an alluring story, and Borderlands 2 possesses both. In fixing the flaws of its predecessor, Borderlands 2 ascends to the pantheon of triple-A titles that are worth your money, and its addictive qualities guarantee that it won’t be collecting dust on your shelf anytime soon.
Kayla’s Rating: 5/5