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Borderlands 2 Review

Being an adventurer is not easy, especially when you have a super villain named Handsome Jack out to kill you. The other thing about this line of work is that no matter how far you progress, it only gets harder, thanks to the threat to your life becoming ever more real. Being an adventurer also sucks because you can trust no-one but yourself. Life on the road is hard. Welcome to Borderlands 2.

It is fair to say that Borderlands 2 is not kind to the lone adventurer. I can say this for sure as during my play time the servers where not live, meaning that I somehow had to progress through a game which was built for four players; it is not easy I can tell you, with the main reason for this being that Borderlands 2 is as tough as nails. You'll chip away on Gearbox's latest for hours on end and barely make a dent, especially if you go solo. Thankfully for me, Gearbox did have the mindset to include split-screen co-op, so I was at least able to call on a friend to help me out, although those of you out there who get the game on launch day will have the luxury of a world of players to call on in your hour of need. You'll certainly need this luxury.

One thing you'll see a lot of in Borderlands 2 is checkpoints and this isn't because you'll pass a lot of them, it is due to the fact that you will constantly be spawning from them. I don't think I've ever played a game (perhaps with the exception of Dark Souls / Dead Souls) which has had me killed so many times within the space of the first chapter. It doesn't even get easier later on when you are equipped up to the eyeballs with shields, large weapons and grenades. I can't emphasis enough that Borderlands 2 is built for four, playing this way is more fun and a heck of a lot easier than trying to slog through on your own.

Now that you know you are in for a challenge, let us start where all good adventures begin, with the story. Borderlands 2 is a direct sequel to the first game and sees you playing as one of the four hunters who've come to Pandora to hunt for - Vaults. Unfortunately instead of finding what you are looking for, your hunter soon finds himself on the wrong end of Handsome Jack, leader of the Hyperion Corporation; that is the same Corporation that is trying to destroy the world and all of its citizens. Throughout the game you'll be met with plenty of humor, action and intrigue as the story winds itself in and out of the action. It is certainly a passable tale, much more so than that of the original game, thanks to its twists, turns and characters who'll endear themselves to you.

Another part of the story which will serve you well as you play through are the side quests. Throughout each area you'll be given various quests which will allow you to gain items and cash which will come in handy on the main adventure. Generally side quests are not much different from those you'll be used to in similar games, however what is different is just how well they are presented. Each mission will introduce you to brilliant new characters and some great plots, which will have you in tears of joy at points, or at the very least see you getting attached to some of the brilliant NPC's you'll meet along the way. In RPG's and sprawling adventures such as Borderlands, it often feels like side-quests are added on with the sheer intention of adding more play time to the game and little else of value, however in this case the side-quests are an integral part of the game, meaning you should certainly not let them pass you by.

When you begin the game you will be asked to choose from one of four character classes, each of which have a unique ability. Classes include the Commando, who likes to play with turrets; Gunzerker, whose ability allows him to duel wield; Siren who can use a stun mode and also the Assassin, who can cloak, allowing the player to use a surprise attack on the enemy. You can also tailor each of these classes to your play style thanks to the inclusion of skill trees. When leveling up you'll gain skill tree points and these will allow you to take the route you prefer, be it to focus on defense, combat or health.

To mix things up a little, Borderlands 2 also includes a Badass Ranking system, providing a whole host of in-game challenges, which if complete, earn you points for small boosts on areas such as shield regeneration, heath, recoil reduction and weapons damage. Often you will complete these challenges without even trying, which is a nice added bonus to the already included level progression system.

Once your adventurer finally hits the road, Borderlands will test even the most seasoned of gamer. Things start off as they mean to continue and although it is only thugs and various creatures that you'll face to begin with, this will still provide you with a stern challenge, given that your character has no shield and only basic weapons. Thankfully, it will be no time at all before you find better equipment, because Borderlands 2 is all about the loot and you are going to love every last bit of it.

The loot in Borderlands 2 is one of the reasons you won't be able to stop yourself from playing. Whether it is guns, ammo, grenades or mods, you'll find them all. Every time you find a new weapon or piece of equipment you will get a knot in your stomach as you wonder how you will use it against the enemy. Generally loot consists of money or ammo, however you will still find a lot of weapons which will help cut into the enemy a little more than those currently in your rucksack. Each weapon or shield you will find has a level requirement, so often you may not be able to use these straight away, although there is no harm in keeping them for a later point in the game. Occasionally you will also come across chests which are specially marked, these generally include special weapons, so when you see these you should probably get ready to smile.

As you progress your character gets stronger as he levels up and increases his health and skills, however enemies get tougher too. You see, Jack wants you dead and this means throwing everything he has at you, from thugs to large robotic creatures which WILL destroy you. Enemies are tough alright, which is why it is just as well that you will come across the occasional check point which will save your progress (well that's the plan anyway, but i'll get to that in a minute). Whenever you are killed you will respawn at the last checkpoint; this will also be the case if you are playing co-op, although your teammates will continue to play while you run back to where the battles at.

Although combat is the main focus of Borderlands there are a few areas which mix things up a little. For instance, when in cities you can sell items and buy equipment, giving you much needed cash for the items you really want. You can also trade with teammates should you have the desire to do so. Another area which is a little different is the ability to drive. As you wander through Pandora you will occasionally come across vehicle spawn points. From here you are able to choose and slightly customise a vehicle, allowing you to choose between weapons and various camouflage colours. I found the vehicles quite difficult to get to grips with at first, although I believe they have the same control scheme as Halo, so anyone used to playing this title will no doubt pick the driving up straight away. Thankfully for me, the vehicles have no real use other than getting from one area to the next (with the exception of the odd shoot the other car mission), so if you don't enjoy driving around in the cars then don't worry about it too much.

With all this (mostly) positive talk you are right in thinking that Borderlands 2 is an excellent game, however it does have some problems. I am not sure if this will happen all of the time, but on at least two occasions I saved the game and turned it off after beating a boss and then upon returning found that I had spawned at an earlier point in the game and had to take on the same bosses all over again. There a few other issues too, such as occasional pop-up and some enemies getting stuck in the environment. The latter is something which I often see in games of this size, so I'm pretty confident that these small problems will be ironed out over the course of the games lifetime.

Looking at all I've mentioned so far, it is fair to say that Gearbox has done a wonderful job. Borderlands 2 is a huge game which is full of loot, leveling up and a whole lot of respawning. I do feel like the driving could have offered more, while there is the odd occasion where the action can frustrate. Overall though, Borderlands 2 is an excellent shooter and a huge improvement over the original game. It wont always be an easy ride, but it certainly is a fun one.

Review Policy (Version tested: PS3)

Edited On 18 Sep, 2012

( 18 )
CookieMcCrumble's avatar
CookieMcCrumble 4 years ago
Great review, I really can't wait for release. It's days like today that I wish I lived in the US lol.
hallben's avatar
I love the recent trend of big releases getting simultaneous US and UK releases. It's such a shame this wasn't deemed high profile enough to get one.
hallben 4 years ago
Dead's avatar
Dead 4 years ago
So looking forward to this, definite contender for game of the year.
Anonymous user's avatar
this feels like the most agonising wait i have ever had to endure as a gamer!
Baoson 4 years ago
Anonymous user's avatar
Matt 4 years ago
i simply cannot wait for this game to come out, i'm even eagerly waiting for the email to say it has been dispatched. don't fail me now Shopto
Anonymous user's avatar
Daniel 4 years ago
Great review! Can't wait to get my hands on this game. I haven't had anything to play for about 3 weeks so its seems like the longest wait ever! Looking forward to trying out Zer0, love the stealth and melee option they given this time around as well as having Sniper kills. Bring on the 21st! See you all in the Borderlands!
NokkonWud's avatar
NokkonWud 4 years ago
The first game had a very strange structure to it in that the story wasn't good (at all), the combat was okay and the enemies (barring the bosses) weren't really interesting, yet it was phenomenally addictive and brilliant in co-op play. I'm completely aware of these facts and I'm expecting pretty much the same from the sequel, yet despite this, I really can't wait. Borderlands was one of my favourite co-op games of the generation and I'm hoping that with everything that's been learned, Borderlands 2 may be even better!
Kizzy's avatar
Kizzy 4 years ago
Awesome it got the Excellent it deserved, the first borderlands was epic and from the looks of the review it will be :D
hallben's avatar
hallben 4 years ago
I must say I am not surprised to read such a glowing review. The first title was the sleeper hit of that year and as long as its more, more and MORE of the same I shall be very happy with this one.
Nijogi's avatar
Nijogi 4 years ago
This is great news, although you died alot I am quiet happy to hear about the increased difficulty. I solo'd the first game and thought it was easy and this is coming from someone who is rubbish at first person shooters.
Shnoorum's avatar
Shnoorum 4 years ago
Currently playing through number 1 now. Wanna get round to completing all the DLC before I buy this. Saying its out next week and I really want this game, I better getting going
opt1mus76's avatar
opt1mus76 4 years ago
Guess this will be added to my Christmas list. Looks awesome but its gonna have to wait :(
juschris07's avatar
Try and win the competition that shopto have on at the moment. Worth a try will save you having to wait until christmas?
juschris07 4 years ago
juschris07's avatar
juschris07 4 years ago
I actually cant wait for this game i played to much of the first one and when i thought it couldnt get any better this game gets released. Now they have announced the DLC for the new game i cant wait specially if there anything like the Borderlands 1 DLC. Im just deciding what class I want to be first. "Its like having another solider on the field"
AndyMo91's avatar
AndyMo91 4 years ago
cant wait to play this after ive won this competition.
bosbos's avatar
bosbos 4 years ago
When are the download codes being issued for PC? I'm keen to pre-load prior to launch, but there is no indication on the product page as to when ST will issue them.
Loli-Nox-Tan's avatar
Loli-Nox-Tan 4 years ago
Sounds like the sequel has blown borderlands out of the water
Greigyboii's avatar
Greigyboii 4 years ago
I mentioned before that I wasn't a big fan of the first game, but safe to say you have convinced me otherwise! If I don't win the copy from you guys, I will buy it anyway!

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