Borderlands 2 Review
|Release Date:||September 21st, 2012 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andy Hemphill (Bandit)|
If you played the original Borderlands, you know how it could be both brilliant and boorish in the same breath.
Thankfully, Borderlands 2, while sticking to its predecessor's method, manages to correct most of the errors thrown up by the first game - but at the expense of any real innovation.
As with the previous title, Borderlands is an RPG-like shoot 'em up with a cel-shaded, cartoon-like feel, robust four-player online multiplayer and a risk-reward system familiar to most gamers.
The action is set on the blighted planet of Pandora (no, not Avatar's shiny jungle-planet), and stars another four-man band of misfits stranded on the planet by yet another corporate evildoer - this time a very comic villain known as 'Handsome Jack'.
Beforelong the four find themselves swept up into a resistance movement taking on Handsome Jack, while also searching for another of Pandora's legendary 'vaults' - priceless collections of artifacts, and - more importantly - loot.
What follows is a sturdy, enjoyable shooter with a heavy focus on stats-building and loot-grabbing, which combines a comedic outlook with simple shooty fun.
The game itself can be played in singleplayer, but the nature of Borderlands lies in its multiplayer offering. You can play offline and online split-screen with a friend, or log on with up to three other online gamers and work together to complete a variety of story and side-quests.
Some of the tasks are run-of-the-mill challenges like 'go here, collect this', while others prove quite a challenge, requiring teamwork and careful planning. The game never takes itself too seriously, however, and one of the missions demonstrates this in its title: "Go shoot this guy in the face".
So, the majority of the game sees the four players battling waves of monsters and gun-toting loonys to advance the plot, with each player character using his or her special skill for the good of the group - the assassin can turn invisible and snipe from afar, while the psychic siren can trap enemies in a force bubble, for example.
I played most as the commando, dropping sentry turrets like confetti.
The upgrade screen for your characters works a lot smoother this time around, with each new guns (of which there are billions of possible combinations) showing clearly whether or not it is an improvement on the one you're currently wielding.
As for the loot you rapidly accrue, you can now tag it as 'junk' - making the frequent stops at vendors and shops a little easier to stomach, and saving more time for the shooting.
Other minor changes - such as picking up ammo off the floor automatically, and a vastly streamlined user interface - make the game play better on a whole, even if the title itself doesn't really offer anything particularly 'new.'
The game's graphics engine takes advantage of the cel-shading when crafting the environments you battle through, making texture pop-up pretty rare, although some rough mapping is an occasional niggle. On the whole Pandora's varied environments are displayed well, with snow, industrial and jungle environments looking good.
Character animation is also excellent, and is backed up by fantastic voice acting, a punchy, comedic script and a brilliantly involving score.
Overall, Borderlands 2 is a brilliant game. While it doesn't really break from its predecessor's routine, it more than makes up for this with innumerable little tweaks and additions that improve the game as a whole.
- Endless blasty fun
- Great online multiplayer
- Stunning aesthetic
Not so good stuff
- Lack of innovation
- Some repetitive missions