First Impressions – Borderlands 2

Borderlands 2Oh wow! Where to begin?
I’m a looter through and through.
The only thing holding me back from the London riots was the fact I wouldn’t be able to trade with Marcus and get myself something by Maliwan or Jacobs. That and I wouldn’t get the satisfying sound of opening a loot chest.

It’s one of the main factors of the game and if you didn’t get that from the first game then you’ve clearly not played it properly. I like shiny things so this suits me perfectly.
As funny as the Zero Punctuation review is, it is clearly wrong and unjust to what is an exemplary title in the shooter/RPG/drop-in co-op/looting/achievement whoring genre. Unique? 🙂

I simply can’t stop myself from having fun in this game.

Just a peaceful seaside town, much like PortsmouthThe outlining of the cell shaded graphics is back with textures that are even slicker than before with bloom effects and draw distances that have certainly been improved. Previously there were some problems with graphic card compatibility but this appears to have been addressed when I had to prevent the frame rate from being limited to only 30 and am currently running at 120 FPS with all settings at maximum on a 1920 x 1200 resolution screen. Sweet.
Admittedly my system is a bit beefier than before but there’s not been a single glitch so far.
Okay, I lie, there’s been one little problem with trying to jump in to a car that hasn’t spawned yet where I ended up falling, and falling, and falling, and falling… Thankfully I was in a co-op game and rescued by a teleport.
Otherwise, this game is great with a huge amount of colour that suits the world of Pandora.

The styling of the story and game environment makes me feel like I’m playing in a universe based around the sci-fi TV series Firefly. For me that’s a bonus in itself.
Gun slinging and all out bullet rampage with great audio to boot on maps that load fast and have plenty of hidden items to intrigue even the most veteran of gamers. Fun.

There are a few tweaks which will turn everyone in to a looter by the end of the game.
The new Badass ranking system rewards you for shooting a certain number of enemies in a certain way or specific time of day and it doesn’t stop there. You have to now discover hidden logos and other artifacts in order to achieve milestones within each of the categories, of which their must be more than a hundred, and you are allowed to exchange Badass Tokens for percentage increases in health, shield amount, recharge rates, gun damage etc… The list goes on.
If you want to develop your character and be in with a better chance of defeating your enemy then you’ll have to spend some time on this aspect. There is a little concern that this could end up feeling like a chore if you become dedicated enough, but if you don’t take it to heart then you should see these miniature achievements pop as your naturally play through.
That said, it does give you a fair chunk of XP so it is worth doing to increase the abilities on your skill tree and the Badass Tokens and their converted upgrades are independent of the character you play and stay with the player. Obviously, the more characters you play as the better you Badass ranking and upgrades.

Skills to pay the billsThe menu system has been tweaked which makes the skill tree a little bit nicer to navigate. If you’re puking up at the slightly 3D perspective of the carousel menu then you shouldn’t be playing games.
One of the nice features Gearbox has done is feature the skill trees for each character online so you load out the skill tree up with 48 points and see how you want your character to develop which is better than trying to keep guessing in-game and wasting time whilst playing co-op.

Wub wub wubObviously Claptrap is back, filled with extra irony and a new found love for dub step. Just follow him around Sanctuary and listen to him drop his beats. He’s a classic character and is as faithful as the day is long, providing you with little pointers at the beginning to ease you back in to the Pandora way of life.
There are also new characters in the form of Sir Hammerlock and Ellie who continue the slightly twisted humour found in Pandora and there are new enemies who I won’t talk about much to save the surprise but the A.I. has been improved, slightly.

In this sequel you also have new vault hunters to choose from, and the new enemy, Handsome Jack, is making it his goal to see you don’t reach yours. He calls you up so often that you’d think he’s your best friend asking for a favour but he’s just trying to wind you up. The voicing and scripting of Handsome Jack throws in some great comical pieces that have to be listened to.
You also get to hear the voices of those you’re in control of more, especially when you do something fancy or gory like a critical headshot. A lot of work has gone in to getting the tone and scripting just right.

The new clan consists of Axton (Commando – soldier type dude with turrent), Salvador (Gunzerker – beefy, gun totting, nutcase), Zero (Assassin – sword wielding phase shifter) and Maya (Siren – enhanced elemental powered beauty).
There’s also Gaige who is a new Mechromancer class player which I’ve only just scraped the surface with and play as she’s only just become available in the first add on. Her special ability is to summon a mech and her skill tree makes it look like she’s a very formidable addition to the vault hunting team.

Lilith kicks assHaving played a little bit of co-op I would recommend leaving the majority of looting and Badass achievements till you’ve got some spare time as a single player otherwise it could feel quite cumbersome for the others unless you’re running low on ammo or in need of some expensive ‘shiny’.
It’s something I’m guilty of being a looter but I’m always there for the fight.

There is a risk that there’s a little too much running around to complete seemingly menial tasks so it can be a little more effective to have a scout run off to turn in the mission whilst others are looting or maybe splitting up to complete a mission quicker because of the spread of task locations.
There are plenty of times where splitting up is a very bad idea and will reward you with digitising yourself back to a respawn point and losing some dollars for the service, but equally this shouldn’t happen if you know what you’re doing.
It’s called teamwork people. Do your best impersonation of Madonna and don the mic to communicate. A chunk of the fun is ripping the crap out of your team mates anyway.

Buy something alreadyFor those that played the original this will feel like pulling on an old jumper, except the bobbles have been removed and it’s no longer a size too small. Everything you expect to see is there and in a few instances are mocked because of any predisposed expectation.

Science fiction meets western (again) in a thrilling shoot-em-up (again) that delivers an exciting adventure that has to be enjoyed with friends. I’ll be surprised if this doesn’t get my vote for game of the year.

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