Borderlands 2 Review

Xbox 360 Reviews

2K Games and Gearbox Software have released the sequel of possibly one of the most eccentric games of this generation. Borderlands 2 is available in stores now, and if the first was a surprise hit, the second can only be bigger and better – right? Well, it’s definitely bigger, better as well as a few surprises across the massive open world landscapes that you’ll explore, hunt and dash around. It does admittedly still feel lonely as a single player experience, but the whole setup has been designed for co-op gameplay. It has to be a shared experience to enjoy everything this game has to offer on the planet of Pandora.

Presented as a cartoony, bright and funky graphical world role-playing-shooter in the first person perspective, Borderlands 2 features (in the dev’s words) a “Bazillion Weapons” as the game contains millions of procedurally generated weapons – and whilst I didn’t have the time to count every single one, you just as well take their word for it because I rarely kept the same weapon loadout for more than a handful of times. Not only are there a bazillion different weapon combinations, but improved character customisation options are also in place. Combined with the many different upgrades you can purchase with your loot – it’s a virtually endless way to shoot and kill your way through large towns and face the enemy with a wacky never-heard-of-in-a-million-years item that would save your life, you get to play this game in your own unique style with quirky weaponry and defensive technology at your disposal.

You get to create a new character for yourself from four different classes before getting down to the nitty gritty. You can choose to be a Commando who can use the aid of turrets, an Assassin who can use invisibility and decoys, a Siren who can suspend enemies in mid-air, or finally a Gunzerker who can duel wield any gun whatsoever to his advantage. Players can be personalised with different outfit skins as well as head styles to suit your preferred appearance which doesn’t affect gameplay – just how you look. There are various places in-game too in which you can stop off and change your appearance as detailed on a mini-map when in close vicinity, so the character setup you initially choose doesn’t necessarily mean you are stuck with that look throughout the complete game.

The story continues from a period of five years after the original Borderlands and begins with four vault hunters lured to a trap by Handsome Jack who is an evil mastermind, the main antagonist – and the current dictator of Pandora. The main plot is pretty much about how you will restore peace and eventually kill the bastard off, but it’s an everlasting game of cat and mouse where you will often in the style of an RPG traipse across the land to find something, fix something, hunt something, open something, and then return to do it all over again to find things you might have missed or objects required to complete tasks. Each and every time you will be faced by a wave of enemies that belong in some kind of weird, yet watchable nightmare – some of the human kind and others totally off-the-wall. That is said, Borderlands is something of an original masterpiece in that its developers have thought about everything outside of the box, it’s crazy, insane and yet it hooks you into the plot just so you experience that bit more ‘crazy’ world.

Another entertaining difference between Borderlands 2 and many other shooters is that the game doesn’t take itself very seriously with a distinct comedic dialogue and outlandish personalities that you’ll encounter as you interact with the games non-playable characters spread out across the Pandora world. Quite often you’ll think to yourself “…did I just hear that right…” or “…did he really just say that…” but everything is non-typical and more often surprising that further adds to its entertainment value. You’ll love this game for its unique take on shooters and that unless you have played the original Borderlands, you probably would not have encountered anything like it before!

As well as a first-person-shooter, it does have a familiar RPG approach to the characters in that the more you play and the better you become, the more you personalise and apply upgrades. With levelling up your player through kills and completing quests you earn Skill Points which can be spent on items associated with your character classes Skill Tree, all of which increases your kill skills, damage abilities, Attack, Speed, Health and much more besides. You’ll also unlock Badass Tokens for completing challenges which you can spend on your Bonus Stats – these unlike the Skill Points can enhance your Shield Recharge, Gun Accuracy and Reloading. All of the RPG-esque options can be accessed with the game’s Inventory Screen that details other useful information about Missions, Map’s and Weapon Loadout’s that you’ll need to reference and familiarise yourself with early on.

Although it’s already been said, Borderlands 2 is a unique, exceptionally different, genre breaking and a highly entertaining game enjoyed best co-operatively with friends (or randoms) over Xbox LIVE. You can play it how you choose and either aim for the main missions or work hard as a team with up to four players to complete many side-quests and explore further areas, but be warned that the games difficulty is ranked up to the max!

Visually the cartoony art style works well, but there at many times noticeable flaws especially with pop-ins which is a bit of a shame, yet one of the only minor flaws I could think of to mention aside from clunky bad vehicle handling. It needs room for improvement in those two areas but nothing that distracts from the enjoyment – just obvious minor annoyances that could have been better handled.

If you haven’t played the original Borderlands then Borderlands 2 will be something of an entertaining surprise that should keep you entertained for some time. Those familiar with the original will find the sequel better, bigger and more characteristic with greater customisation and choices to make.

An absolute must-own!

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Founder of ThisisXbox.com (owner from 2010 - 2014), now writer and reviewer with an interest in writing thriller fiction. Two addictions; Diet Coke and Call of Duty. All views expressed everywhere are my own and not that of my employer!