Borderlands 2 Review

October 9, 2012

/ by Tin Salamunic

Developer(s): Gearbox Software
Publisher(s): 2K Games
Platform(s): PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Release Date: September 18, 2012

Borderlands 2 is a sequel in a true sense of the word. It improves upon everything I loved about the original. A FPS/RPG hybrid is something that we hadn't really seen come to fruition in gaming until Gearbox handed us a slice of shoot 'n loot of heaven with the original in 2009. It's 2012 and Borderlands 2 is here. After all the hype, I have to say that the wait was well worth it. Literally, everything about the game has been improved. And this is coming from a guy who already loved the first one!
  • Varied and gorgeous environments
  • Unique and mesmerizing art style
  • A cornucopia of new and familiar enemy types and characters
  • Four-player online, two player split-screen multiplayer
  • Entirely new classes and skill trees
  • Improved pacing
  • An actual story
  • Guns… lots of @#!%$ing guns
  • Mini-map confusion
  • Only one useable new vehicle
  • Backtracking through areas
  • Sometimes easily confusable AI
  • Falling to your death unexpectedly
When my friend Nick told me about the first Borderlands nearly four years ago, I definitely put it on the back burner of my gaming radar. Promises of an enormous campaign that I can play locally with a buddy or online with three others had me skeptical to say the least. Borderlands didn't only live up to those expectations, but surpassed them in every way imaginable. A FPS where I get progressively more badass (ala an RPG) as I continue to kick more and more ass? Yes. Please. But I'm not here to talk about the first title; I'm talking Borderlands 2, its vastly superior sequel.

BL2 differentiates itself from its predecessor from the onset. Starting you out in a gorgeous, frozen tundra expanse, you know right away this game is going to be different. You would be right. The story picks up two years after the original ended, with a brand new set of vault hunters and classes to choose from. The Gunzerker can dual wield any combination of weapons, the Siren can phaselock enemies suspending them in midair, the Commando can throw down a turret that protects you from incoming fire, and the Assassin can create a decoy version of himself, go invisible, and get in close for the kill or snag a powerful critical hit from afar.

Now if that's not the coolest, most dynamic set of special abilities in a game ever, then I don't know how else to persuade you. Oh yeah, guns. I heard gamers like them. This game has a countless amount of guns. Guns of every type for any scenario you could possibly imagine. Add in explosive, fire, shock, corrosive, and, new to BL2, slag damage to these weapons and you have endless possibilities for causing massive problems for your opponents. With the introduction of a new element called Eridium, you will have to purchase SKU (ammo capacity upgrades) off of the black market in Sanctuary, your hub to Pandora.

Guns come and go though in BL2. It's all about the loot. Stuff that has lasting effects and that truly makes your Borderlands 2 character yours. Class mods return adding character specific benefits and new titles to your character. Shields and grenade mods also make a comeback. Relics work in a similar way, but are not character specific offering benefits ranging from quicker shield regeneration to higher melee damage. Also new to BL2 are Badass Points. These points are awarded to you after completing one of the many, many in-game challenges Gearbox has programmed into the game ranging from “kill 25 skags” to “kill an airborne enemy by throwing a Tediore weapon at it” (you throw them and they explode like grenades instead of reloading, it's probably one of the top 10 coolest things I've ever seen in a video game).

Familiar faces from the original Borderlands are back, including Dr. Zed, Mad Moxxi, Claptrap, and the original four vault hunters, Brick, Mordecai, Roland, and Lilith. These characters don't only make an appearance, but are integral parts of the main storyline. That's right. There's a storyline. This game definitely brought the Borderlands franchise into its own universe. A pop-culture fueled world of bizarre creatures all out to kill you, questionable geology, and a ton of people who don't want to do anything but hide in their respective towns. We get it. It's a dangerous world stepping out your front door. But hey, more missions for us! It's so fun, I don't even know I'm grinding!

BL2 isn't completely flawless. I do commend Gearbox for the addition of the in-game mini-map, but sometimes that thing can be confusing as hell. I would still find myself periodically having to pause the game and look at the larger stage map to gain a heading or determine what route to take. The problem with that is that unless you discover it on your own, ahead of time, certain parts of the map won't be revealed to you.

While Fast Travel Stations are fairly abundant, backtracking through stages, especially larger landscapes, does get a tad tedious. This usually isn't a problem because the environments are a sight to behold, especially on high-end PCs, but you will find yourself fighting re-spawned enemies. I literally just fought you guys.

While I gripe on the minor flaws that exist within Borderlands 2, I can't stress enough how much thought, care, and consideration for its fans went into the development of this game. Every ounce of programming aimed for a specific look and feel that is truly unique and refreshing, especially from a sequel. Re-playability is something I can't stress enough with this title. With the launch of the Mechromancer class and four expansions worth of downloadable content, you will be gunning things down for loot well into 2013. And the gamers are content, for now.

Final Score “A Superb Sequel” 9.5
The graphics for Borderlands 2 are gorgeous. Say farewell to the stagnant earth tones of the first game and hello to a Pandora that is vibrant and truly alive with style.
No matter what class you are playing, BL2 has some of the most addictive and instantly rewarding run-and-gun segments in video game history. You truly feel like a badass and the fusion of FPS and RPG has never been more clear with its improved pacing and abundance of new and improved features.
You can't get more value for your money. With four DLC packs and a new character class, the Mechromancer, you will be playing this one until your thumbs bleed deep into the night for months.
A familiar mix of new and old, the soundtrack never gets in the way of the killing, always bearing an air of mystery or the unexplored, and neither do the hilarious comments from the game's characters. Ingenious writing.

Review by Michael Engle

Raised on punk rock and video games, Michael Engle remembers a time when Mario was on his second birthday cake and when game reviews weren't biased and contrived. Engle hopes to bring his love of nostalgia and gaming honesty to you. He co-hosts his own video game news podcast, All Your News are Belong to Us. He loves games, writing, music, and not sleeping. All Articles by Michael.

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  1. Ya, this games the best, and is going to continue being the best for a while. Good review.

  2. I love this game. Some of the most stylish graphics ever.


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