Two is Better Than One
October 9, 2012 by Michael Harrison
Many sequels are content with simply rehashing old content with a new story, or skin, but Borderlands 2 takes it a step above the prequel.
Borderlands, the wildly imaginative and artistic game of 2009, was a very impactful experience to say the least. The twisted world of Pandora (accentuated more by it’s bright cell shaded art style) was full of character, creatures, and a whole lot of guns. Fast-forward three years and the second trip to Pandora is not only a return, but a revitalization. Borderlands 2 is a sequel that gets nearly everything right. It improves upon almost everything present in the last game without losing its original charm.
The first Borderlands was a unique mix of first person shooter (FPS) and role playing game (RPG). It combined fast paced action gunplay, similar to the Call of Duty franchise, with fairly deep RPG customization. Its major selling point was it’s absurd amount of guns. Every gun had complex statistics to it, and some even had elemental powers such as corrosive, electrical, fire, and explosive abilities.
The sequel has even more guns to offer than its predecessor, though this may actually be its only problem. Borderlands 2 may have more, but tons of the guns aren’t even worth looking at this time around. The player can view a popup that shows a gun’s monetary worth, and compares it to the gun he/she is currently holding. The game gives the player a limited inventory (which can be expanded), making picking up every gun available a bad idea. In addition to this, Borderlands 2 introduces a new elemental power called slag. Slag weakens an enemy, and makes them more vulnerable to gunfire and other elemental powers. Grenade mods (modifications to what the players grenades are capable of), shields, and class mods (modifications to the players character and skills) also make a return in abundance.
In Borderlands, there were four unique classes, all with their own power and skills at their disposal. Borderlands 2 hosts four new characters, with a fifth one on the way. Zero the Assassin has the ability to deploy a decoy and turn invisible, giving him a boost to gun damage and melee (hitting) damage. Axton the Commando can deploy a turret that he can level up and tweak in various ways. Maya the Siren can trap enemies in a sort of energy bubble that suspends them in the air. Finally, Salvador the Gunzerker can become a raging tank (tough and nearly invincible), in addition to dual-wielding any two weapons in the game. Not much is known of the mysterious Mechromancer class that has yet to be released.
Every class has three unique character trees to customize and tweak their skills even further. In usual RPG fashion, the player receives experience points (XP) from killing enemies and completing quest for the various occupants of Pandora. After earning enough XP, the player will level up and receive a point to spend in any of their three skill branches. Skills range from doing simple things like boosting critical hit damage, to more complex things like giving an advanced variation on the character’s power. These skill trees are all far more unique than those of the first game, and players will now be hard-pressed to choose from some of the skills they have access to. However, the game has a safeguard that allows any player to pay a small fee, and redistribute all of his skill points at anytime during the game.
Another big thing that Borderlands had to offer was its incredible cooperative play (co-op) experience. Up to four friends could embark on the journey together. This feature is back in Borderlands 2, and better than ever. Players can still dual amongst themselves, and advance skills that support team playing, but now they can also trade weapons and mods with each other. Another new feature is the addition of four person vehicles. Cars were only really used to speed up travel in the first Borderlands, but now many missions are more car oriented this time around.
Among all of this incredible content is a hilariously well-written story line. Obviously, when the gameplay is such a treat to play, the story is an afterthought, but what really shines in Borderlands 2 is it’s comedic dialogue. Many people may not be a fan of the crude comedy of the game, but it really works for the Borderlands franchise. The plot has to do with a tyrant named Handsome Jack attempting to control Pandora, and essentially bring law to the lawless. It really is a noble cause, but the player is unsure if what Jack says is true. Some things that Jack does don’t seem beneficial to the planet, which really advocate his support for ends justifying the means.
All in all, Borderlands 2 is just an absurdly fun game. It has everything that made the first so memorable, and improves upon it in almost every way. Whether played alone or enjoyed with friends, Borderlands 2 is a gun slinging, action packed thrill ride that will take players across the interesting world of Pandora. Tundras, deserts, mountains, grasslands, cities, and even acidic caves await all who partake in this thrilling adventure.