Alrighty folks, so even though I haven’t really beaten the game yet, I’ve decided to give a ‘work in progress’ kind of review concerning the fancy new game I’m sure we’ve all been sinking our teeth into lately. While a lot of hype was generated for this title, I’ve had a lot of people asking me whether or not it would be a good idea to pick it up if they didn’t really enjoy the original. Bottom line, my answer is no. Borderlands 2 works by improving an already fun formula for those of us who enjoyed it, and while it brings a lot more upgraded stuff of the same type, it doesn’t truly redefine the mechanics, gameplay or storytelling potential of the original. The plot is definitely a lot more in-depth and detailed with tons of wacky characters, but I think if you simply didn’t enjoy the original, you won’t enjoy this one. Anyway, continue forth to read on about what’s going on in my head concerning Borderlands 2.
First and foremost, I’d like to begin by addressing the incredibly wacky comedy and antics we see in Borderlands 2, which greatly improves upon the previous dialogue and funny pop-culture references we got from its predecessor. Whether it be Claptrap’s wacky dubstep song or Moxxi’s incredibly racy photos, there are bundles of funny instances that just keep the players coming back for more over and over again. Of particular interest to me are the very well done character splash screens for either main characters or bosses. I remember cracking up for a little bit after seeing Bewm Boom’s splash (something about midgets and jetpacks is apparently very comical to me). It’s easy to see the amount of effort that Gearbox took to ensure that they didn’t change what didn’t need to be changed, unlike many companies who merely add on things just to have more content (which irritates me when we get very early on, unnecessary DLC). Moving along, I’m sure if you look hard enough you’ll even be able to find a nice little nod to the internet phenom concerning ‘double rainbows’ if you haven’t checked out my BL2 Easter eggs article a week back. I’d prefer not to link it here just to help you all with terrible self control, because a lot of those eggs are just really fun to explore and find on your own.
Onto the guns. When Gearbox stated that they wanted to improve their game with infinitely many more guns, they weren’t kidding. Whether it be the color scheme or certain attachments to the guns like a different barrel, magazine or scope, I don’t think I’ve found a single gun that looks like another. Even the quest guns like to change it up from time to time, giving your entire team different varieties of the same exact gun. I didn’t notice it until I started a new multiplayer game, but that little detail completely blew my mind. They weren’t kidding when they listed that gun number during their teaser trailers, and I find it hard to believe that anyone will really ever be able to map out just exactly what changes for each gun without somehow modding their saves with an external program. But, I digress, the bottom line is that I’m really enjoying the variety of guns in the game, and enjoying the way that enemies react to me shooting their faces off even more.
Enemies tie in to the prior point to a certain degree, but I guess that’s only because you shoot them…a lot. I really liked that enemies within your level (or even outside your level to a large degree) are still relatively challenging to fight, to the point where something 3 or four levels up or down from you can and will make you have a bad day. Of note are the new suicidal enemies such as the EXP Loaders or Suicide Psychos, all of whom can essentially take out your shields from max charge just by standing next to you for a few seconds. With the added challenge of tracking the enemies that are actually firing at you, it makes for an incredibly stressful mechanic when you hear something ticking next to you. Even with a full party of four I found myself trying hard to avoid getting downed repeatedly at any level. With my dedicated party we are currently around level 20 average, and still having a tough time ensuring that we get through a level without any of us dying at least once. It’s a nice improvement from the original system, where enemies a single level up could destroy you, whereas an enemy a level below you could get one-shot with a relatively well-placed shot or melee.