borderlands-2-video-review 23 Sep

Aside from the wonky PC matchmaking, the ammo supply issues, and the lackluster ending, the original Borderlands was a great cooperative experience. And with Borderlands 2 we weren’t expecting much except more of the same.

But we got A LOT more of the same. More guns, more ammo, more areas to explore, better music, better gear, better personal customization of characters, better writing, better voice acting, better storyline, longer gameplay, better matchmaking, and of course, more Claptrap.

Despite the original Borderlands crushing sales numbers, it seems as though Borderlands 2 might be the first time a lot of gamers are setting foot onto the planet of Pandora to slay bandits and hunt for the mystical Vault. If that is the case with you, dear viewer, please allow us to be your guide.

Borderlands 2, like its predecessor, is a role-playing shooter. You select one of four characters: Salvador, the Gunzerker tank; Maya, the Siren, capable of phaselocking her enemies in place; Axton, the commando with a deployable turret; or Zero, the sniper who creates a decoy of himself while sneaking up to stab the enemy in the back.

You begin your adventure as the victim of a train sabotaged by Handsome Jack and awaken from the catastrophe relatively unscathed at the feet of Claptrap. Claptrap eventually leads you to the resistance against Handsome Jack, led by the original four characters from Borderlands.

The story has seen an improvement over the original. The quality of writing as a whole has drastically increased from the first installation and it’s made apparent not just in story structure, but in the dialogue as well. From the dialogue alone, we predict that Handsome Jack will start appearing in top 10 Top Favorite Villain lists all over the internet sometime soon. He’s got great a personality, he’s funny, human, and ultimately, very very evil. His downright frightening demeanor provides you with more than enough motivation to push to the end.

The journey will rack you in over 30 hours to complete the main quest line. That’s if you don’t do any side missions, go off exploring, team up with friends in their games, try to complete the many in game challenges, and if you don’t want to find hidden easter eggs referring to movies, television, literature, and of course, other video games.

Borderlands 2 is a time suck, but we mean that in the most endearing way possible. No matter if you catch the game on sale or if you pay full price, you will get your money’s worth. It’s jam packed with quality content from start to “finish.” And we use the term “finish” lightly, because once you complete the main quest (which we did at level 29), you can play through the entire game again against harder, and more diverse enemies that drop more elaborate guns and gear, pushing you to that seemingly temporary cap of level 50. In that regard, Borderlands 2 is like an MMO, but one that you only experience with friends and strangers if you want to.

Teaming up with your friends (and strangers) is as easy as flicking on a lightswitch. Cooperative gameplay not only exponentially increases the fun factor with your friends, but it also causes the game to spawn tougher enemies and better loot. There are plenty of “Badass Awards”–permanent perks for performing various in game tasks– that can only be achieved with help from your friends.

Graphically, Borderlands 2 has seen a significant facelift over the original, but still uses the same art style. We ran it on several different, but all rather beefy PCs. Some had a hard time pushing a few of the game’s more fantastic effects when there was a ton of action on screen. But all in all, we were very pleased with the way the game performed. We experienced very few crashes, and our connectivity issues were hammered out by the third day of gameplay.

The varied locations grade from desserts, to rocky mountain ranges, to green steppes, to snowy wastelands, to urban environments, and industrial complexes located in the world’s harshest terrain. You’ll be fighting classic enemies like Skaggs, Rakks and Psychos, but there is also a nice variety of new beasts, malcontents, and machines.

Getting from point A to Z in Borderlands 2 can be done either by foot, car, or fast travel stations. Considering the massive size of the entire world, you’ll be happy for any type of transportation after a particularly gruesome firefight session. It is important to note that driving cars on PC takes some getting used to. But most of all, we were slightly disappointed to see that enemies clearly have air superiority over you with transforming robots and buzzard dropships. This isn’t necessarily a negative mark against Borderlands 2, more of a side note: we really really want to fly those buzzards around in the available areas within Pandora.

Despite everything we love about Borderlands 2, it definitely has an ugly side to it, and unfortunately it comes from the multiplayer. Joining cooperative games (which we wholeheartedly recommend doing) can have some massively negative repercussions to your single player experience. You can miss entire chunks of the storyline and game-important unlocks by hopping on with players who are only a few levels ahead of you, depending on where you are in the game. Even though Borderlands 2 offers a system to counter this possibility, it’s not 100% effective. And, sadly, there is no “replay mission” option available, which could potentially solve this issue entirely.

We love Borderlands 2. Love it. Certainly there are a few dents in the hull, but all in all, it is an exemplary experience from start to finish whether you play alone or with friends. We can easily say it’s one of the best cooperative games we’ve played this generation and easily one of our favorite shooters as well. We don’t give out many of these, and we don’t give them out lightly, but we’re happy to give Borderlands 2 an Elder’s Choice Award. We’ll see you on Pandora.

  • Name: Borderlands 2
  • Available on: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
  • Developed by: Gearbox Software
  • Published by: 2K Games
  • Release Date: September 18, 2012
  • Elder-Geek Score: 5 out of 5 / Worth Buying / Elder’s Choice Award Winner!