Maroon and Gamer: Borderlands 2 review

I never really liked the first Borderlands game (2009). I thought the idea of a First Person Shooter loot game set in a wasteland was just tired ground when compared to Fallout 3 (2008). From the thirty minutes I played, it was nothing but flat, barren desert. Every which way I looked was just dirt and rocks which gets really boring after a while. Critics and gamers loved Borderlands 1, but I just could not get into it.

In an issue of Gameinformer magazine, Borderlands 2 was revealed. Again critics and gamers were clamoring for more information about it, but I was more or less nonchalant about the whole thing. But as the months went by, I started to get on the same page as everyone else. I began to understand the significance of Borderlands 2 and how it distinguishes itself from the other games.

The Good The first thing you notice when you boot up Borderlands 2 is the unique visual art style. Unlike most first person shooters-- that go for a more gritty realism look-- Borderlands 2 goes for a cell-shaded look that resembles comic books. In my book, that gives Borderlands 2 an extended visual appeal past its release and it continues to keep my interest.

The four (soon to be five) different types of characters you can choose from have their own special abilities and traits. Each special ability in Borderlands 2 supports team play but by themselves they still remain useful. The assassin can turn invisible and the gunzerker can dual-wield weapons.

Borderlands 2’s biggest draw is the amount of variety for all of the different types of guns. Sure there are your standard shotguns and sniper rifles. But then there are guns that can be thrown when you reload to be used like a grenade. And then each one of those guns can have some sort of elemental damage like shock or acid. It really caters to what kind of shooter and player you want to be and I really dug that. Borderlands 2 can also be played with three other players that add an “x” factor to the game that changes the pace of the game for the better or worse depending on how many players you have. The game scales its difficulty to the number of people on your team so that is much appreciated.

Like I mentioned in my Darksiders II review, gathering loot is addictive and Borderlands 2 revels in copious amounts of loot being thrown at the player. That keeps the player hunting and thus keeps the player playing. Borderlands 2 rectifies the singular environment that was present in the first game with sprawling ice shelves and lush jungles. Deserts are still present in Borderlands 2 but the new environments make the planet of Pandora seem that much more feasible. The characters you meet and talk with in the game also give the anarchistic and chaotic world a plentiful amount of personality.

The Bad I had to look real hard to find some gaps in Borderlands 2’s armor but there are some that I noticed. On a technical level, Borderlands 2 looks great but it takes a few moments for everything to render (loading in visuals) the textures of certain characters or weapons. Just like in Darksiders II, it takes the player out of a creative world that maybe a few more weeks of polish could’ve ironed out.

When I played with three other players, there were moments where we would go at a steady pace and then hit a brick wall and meander for 15-20 minutes trying to figure out where to go next. It happened sparingly but it did happen. This past weekend, I’ve been having online connection issues trying to play with my friend. Gearbox Software is probably still trying to get their servers together but it does hamper the excellent co-op experience.

The Verdict Borderlands 2 continues to carve a niche out that the first game dug and provides an experience that not many other games can provide and you can enjoy it with friends. I have no problem recommending Borderlands 2 to anyone who has had any kind of exposure to shooters or enjoys co-op games. It’s well worth the admission price; just remember that the borderlands are more fun in groups.

 

Follow me on Twitter @MaroonandGamer and send me an email at shfawcet@asu.edu

 


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