“Borderlands 2” Review

Teamwork is what makes the blood flow freely.

Get your Claptrap units in gear, lock and load your crazy looking guns and strap in. Pandora is even harsher than it’s every been, and it’s gotten worse now that Handsome Jack is traipsing about the world with Hyperion. That’s right folks, it’s the “Borderlands 2” review.

With a new set of Vault Hunters, the game picks up some time after the end of “Borderlands.” Hyperion, your friendly weapons manufacturer and militant fighting force, has descended upon Pandora for the valuable naturally-occurring element Eridium. Leading the corporation is the sassy, yet delightfully crass, Handsome Jack. An all-around tyrant and nasty man.

Jack plans on taking the power of another Vault that is hidden on Pandora, and it’s up to Axton, Zero, Maya and Salvador to stop him. The four are basically the same classes that were in the last game with slight modifications to their builds, so if you played “Borderlands,” you’re as good as gold for this game.

I won’t speak more on the story for fear of spoilers because not everyone can beat the game in a week, especially if you take your time and enjoy the innumerable side quests that are offered to you. Seriously, there is a lot of content in this game, and more on the way as the upcoming number of downloadable-content packs have already been announced.

“Borderlands 2” is a great game. Honestly. There isn’t much wrong with the game that you don’t find in any other game when it launches, and the problems with it are typical of the franchise that are present in the previous game. But, they’re not so much problems as they are events that occur because of design choices.

A nice, modest, golden statue of Handsome Jack.

For example: “Borderlands 2” is an open-world game where you can drive all over the world of Pandora, but it isn’t built like “Skyrim” or “Grand Theft Auto.” There are zones in “Borderlands” and “Borderlands 2” that you can explore and the maps are fully sculpted and formed, but empty and spacious. However, you can’t climb every rock and every mountain, or go as far as your eye can see. Since they work in large, fenced-in areas, the landscapes are tiered, wind in and out of each other and have multiple levels to them.

Often times, if you don’t know the area well or don’t really look hard at the map, you will get lost and frustrated as you drive about trying to find the right zone you’re supposed to get to. All the while you’re being attacked on all sides by enemies on the ground and in the sky. It can get on your nerves a little. Do you have to drive? Not at all. But, walking would take forever.

Having mentioned the enemies, there are a lot of baddies. I mean, a huge number. The game is designed to give you awesome weapons that deal damage like no other so you alone can stand against the tide of villains and monsters that try to combat you.

Now, if you don’t have the right gun, aren’t the proper level or are new to the franchise, then you will get bum rushed and die. It can be so overwhelming that you’ll end up trying to kill one enemy at a time before you get killed just to whittle them down.

In all honesty, those were the two biggest problems in the game. The maps can get a little confusing and the amount of enemies can sometimes overwhelm you into frustration and you might even wander into an area you are woefully ill prepared for. I found maybe one bug while I was playing the game, but other than that, it’s pretty solid and well put together for everything that’s in there.

Now, the praises. Holy crap is this game fun if you play it right. Taking your time to do the side quests, level up accordingly and explore all the little nuances that are offered will give you an enjoyable experience that is filled with depth and hilarity.

The voice acting, set pieces, enemy types and people you encounter really make Pandora feel more populated and full than the previous game just from the sheer volume of stuff jam packed in there. It’s wonderful.

Players are encouraged to do the side missions because simply playing through story missions will not result in adequate experience to level up enough, and you’ll find yourself a little out matched in the latter parts of the game. However, taking on side missions is really not a problem because they flesh the world out even more and are simple enough in their own right.

Leveling has had some changes. There are, of course, the skill trees from the last game with some new improvements and tweaks to fit the new characters. Jesus talked about them in his article from E3.

What I found entertaining and useful were the Badass Points. These replace the standard experience-point rewards that you would normally receive for killing 50 skags or 100 or 1,000. They’re mini achievements in the game that you can then apply to things like reload speed, melee damage, weapon damage and even shield recharge time. You can really customize your character’s attributes to fit the way you play in that regard, along with the skill tree.

“Borderlands 2” is pretty awesome. I highly suggest picking it up for the humor, familiar faces, new faces and boxes of bullets that you’ll be pouring into your hapless foes.

10 for 10. Well done, Gearbox and 2K.

Don’t mess with this guy. He means business.