By Lucas Gonzales
It’s been nearly three years since gamers have had their first adventure on the planet of Pandora. In the original Borderlands, players shot, killed and explored to their hearts content in search of higher levels and better weapons. This is a formula that has been used in plenty of other role playing games, and Borderlands is no exception. The original game is a blend between a first-person shooter and traditional role playing games, and as a fan of both of the genres one would think that it would be a natural fit for me. Sadly I never played the original game entirely, and it’s a decision I regretted as soon as I killed my first boss and got my first taste of the loot fest that is Borderlands 2.
As players start the game they are greeted with a cinematic containing one quote that sums up Borderlands 2. “The call of danger and loot is not so easily resisted.” This quickly becomes the phrase that players will live and often die by throughout the game, even well after the main story has been completed.
Players are given a choice of four characters that serve as the game’s “new” classes. There’s the stern character of Axton as the Commando, the lumbering Salvador as the Gunzerker, the mysterious Maya as the Siren and the masked poetic Zero as the Assassin. Each character comes with its own skill tree, very similar to those used in many massively multiplayer games. Each tree serves its own purpose, encouraging players to play differently. For example with Zero, the player can either be a long ranged sniper by spending points in the Sniping skill tree, or spend points in the Bloodshed skill tree to become a melee specialist.
One of the most interesting parts of the game is its unique art style. The game uses very bright and colorful graphics that set it apart from most shooters and role playing games on the market. This art style informs the tone and writing of the game, resembling that of a cartoon or comic book style of presentation. This may be a turn off to many players at first glance. However, the art style suits the game perfectly as the world is filled with loads of referential humor and jokes.
The game has a plethora of non-playable characters where the game’s voice acting shines, making them very unique and memorable. Characters are full of emotion and display their own personalities through hilarious and colorful dialogue. The music design is appropriate and fitting, providing a soundtrack through the game’s intense firefights that exemplifies the overall futuristic outlaw theme of the story.
Gameplay centers around completing and obtaining quests from non-player-characters in the cities and from quest boards in between cities. Typically these quests usually boil down to killing a certain number of particular enemies or fetching items from one point to another. Though there is some occasional variety in between how these quests are presented. The real draw of the game is in the random drop system of weapons and supplies. This system ensures that no enemy will drop the exact same gun every single time. Stats on these randomly generated weapons are also randomly generated; guns can range from effects such as afflicting elemental fire damage to doubling the damage of a weapon by consuming more ammo. Players will always feel a small rush of excitement as they open a new cabinet of guns or defeat a new boss character, as you never know what the outcome might be regarding what weapon is dropped. This doesn’t only apply to guns however, as special grenades and overall class items are thrown in to add variety into an already impressive amount of obtainable items.
The biggest draw of the game has to be the ability to cooperatively play through the game with up to three of your closest friends both on-line and through local split-screen. The game responds intuitively when more people are added, the difficulty of the game is increased as well the frequency and chance of better item drops. Borderlands 2 is one of the best cooperative games available to date because of this. There’s nothing like taking down a difficult boss with teamwork and reaping the rewards with friends.
However, the biggest strength of the game is also the greatest weakness. Notice how I said, the ability to play with up to three of your closest friends? The item drops in the game are shared between all players that are in-game. So if you are playing with someone who is overly aggressive and greedy, then you may have a gun or two stolen from you. It’s frustrating and has taken away from the experience multiple times while I have played with friends.
Overall, Borderlands 2 is a great game that has a high replay value because of its random gun drop system. Combined with hilarious and memorable characters, this more than makes up for the game’s few flaws. Gearbox has done a great job on giving returning players their money’s worth, while also enticing new players to embark into the world of Pandora’s loot fest.