on November 19, 2012
When I got the original Borderlands, I had fun. There were still quirks. Quirks that made me unsure if Borderlands 2 would be a step ahead or a failure. So, I'll try to break up my review into two parts; Borderlands 2 compared to Borderlands and Borderlands 2 on it's own (which I may refer to as BLT a few times).
There are many improvements and changes to Borderlands 2 as opposed to Borderlands 1. First would be the story. By that, I mean there's actually a story. Borderlands 1 was quite linear and probably less than 10% of the people who get a special intro scene hold little to no value to the player. Even the villain General Knoxx was enjoyable as far as the story goes, but was a let down once you fought him. Borderlands 2 on the other hand has actual heroes, a definite villain throughout the whole game, and lots of side characters who do more than talk to you through text bubbles. This greatly improves the satire of the whole game compared to the first, as well as other aspects. Likewise, the battles against the villains mentioned in the story is rarely just a tedious objective that doesn't live up to the hype (there are still tedious objectives and some lost hype, but not as often or extreme).
Gameplay is pretty similar. There's still more guns than you could care to bother mentioning, except now I guess there's MORE more guns than you could care to bother mentioning. In the first game, it got tedious to determine which gun was better than the next. I even found I would have to shoot the gun in combat a few times before I realized I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with the thing. Borderlands 2 is a little different. While there are more guns, the gun brands have now become easier to differentiate each weapon. This way, you can determine which brand you like more and eliminate half the more guns than you could care to bother mentioning. This also helped finding out the brands I liked in order to use every gun to its fullest (I was avoiding assault rifles and pistols before finding the brands I can trust).
Leveling up in Borderlands 2 is a bit more entertaining as well. While the leveling up in Borderlands was fun and I didn't see much problem in it, I now kinda feel my skill points were just perks and my special ability took center stage for a brief period. Examples of this would be Roland's turret, which, while effective, basically shot the crap out of everything for a little while and then went away. I actually found Lilith's phasewalking (while horrible at destroying anybody) made the most adjustments to in game strategy. In this game, it seems the characters I've tried have affected my strategy and skill point distribution much more than the first. That's probably the only reason I feel that Borderlands 1 might have been a bit stale in this area, because Borderlands 2 adds much more to it.
Elemental weapons are still here, and seemingly more effective, but less necessary. In the first game, I found I would want a variety of elemental weapons in order to fight off different enemies. In this game, I do find deciding on an elemental weapon is easier, but I don't feel the need to use as many. Perhaps this is a bonus. Perhaps not. I'm not really sure where I stand on this.
::On Its Own::
The story, while enjoyable, and has a much less linear feel to it, is not very surprising. Even though I had moments in combat where I had this feeling of being one with the story, and even though I felt a bit sad when it was all over, the story itself is nothing specatcular. This game's strengths rely mainly on it's gameplay and cooperative play (which, in turn, may add to the story). There are not many games out there that offer what Borderlands 2 does to a cooperative FPS. I don't know how much you can call it an RPG without your characters saying anything past a critical hit kill(maybe next game they'll make a cameo) or rarely having options of what your characters do (to kill five bonerfarts or not to kill five bonerfarts). Considering I'm not even sure what defines a roleplaying game, and if you want to call it an RPG because you gain levels and have magical guns, then you may. I just wouldn't play this expecting something like Skyrim or Final Fantasy.
As far as gameplay goes, one can really get into the combat situations. Between the special abilities, skills points, and different guns, battles can be frantic, strategic, arduous, and fun, all at the same time (generally, most battles in this game fit at least one criteria while being fun). There are moments where running from checkpoint to checkpoint can get old (such as running through a long map you already beat 10 levels ago to set a midget on fire). But it still beats playing a few hours just to beat one mission (friggin' General Knoxx's Armory).
I originally thought this game would be less fun by myself. In some ways, it is less fun. Carrying items with limited capacity (maximum of 27 with all the upgrades) which makes picking up half the guns difficult and general playing with yourself aren't things everybody enjoys (... yeah, that's a sentence, I guess). Still, I am rather enjoying my play through I got myself to do by myself (I am my play I got myself to do myself...?).
If you're unsure of whether you want the a console version of a PC version, I recommend PC. I played this on Xbox 360 with one brother and on the PC with another brother and I like the PC version more. At the very least, if you want to sign up with a shift account, keys are easier to enter on PC. Also, the Xbox 360 Controller works with the PC version quite well.
If you played the first Borderlands, you may find many things in this one a welcome addition. Such as comparing guns, more unique skills/perks, and a much better story. I have yet to try any DLC aside from the Mechromancer (which, I enjoy), so I can't say if they did anything about the travel stations in the DLCs (something I found a major pain in, again, General Knoxx's Armory). Maybe I'll update on that later.
If you haven't played the first game and are looking for a nice cooperative game, I can recommend Borderlands 2. If you're more interested in a cooperative shooting game, I strongly recommend this. If you're looking for a cooperative shooting game with leveling up features, it's hard to think of something better.