The original game was a sleeper hit of 2009/2010, a new IP that made a big splash after going through some art changes (amongst other things) resulting in a unique shooter for its time that provided co-op fun in a stylized absurd world of violence and mayhem.
Well, gearbox have not fiddled that formula too much, the sequel comes after the original received a great deal of DLC love, with the lore of Pandora, the planet that sustains the Borderland inhabitants, is well fleshed out, insomuch as it is a crazy, vibrant mix of chaos, guns and unrelenting violence.
It is obvious that no society could function in a rational way as depicted in Borderlands, so all semblance of seriousness is thrown out the window. The comic yet beautiful art style and the over-the-top characterisation of players, enemies and monsters is perfect for the cornucopia of pop references that litter a session of Borderlands 2.
The framework is pretty similar to the original game, and the story picks up pretty much where it left off, you are one of four (new) Vault Hunters looking for ancient, powerful and alien technology.
The original characters in the game, The Zer0 (assassin), Commando (as you would expect), Gunzerker (he loves his guns, so Pandora is the place to be) and the Siren (enigmatic sci-fi sorcerous) have been joined recently by the Mechromancer and her floating robotic buddy.
As a solo adventure the game can feel a slog, there is a lot in the way of backtracking over places already visited, and whilst this does up the content of the game, as your levels progress you will long for a better fast travel service than the one offered.
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It is the wastelands after all, and apart from the well laid out and interestingly populated cities, dialogue and story line is a highlight, it is a delight to listen to the banter of muscled gang members or even the robotic army of Handsome Jack, even as they burn or corrode to their deaths. It is comic book violence in bright breezy colours.
There is certainly no place for stealth in the game, snipers will get off one good shot before raising a hornets nest of gunfire, but perched in the right spot a good sniper rifle will take care of many threats before many get close.
Character expansion trees are much more expansive this time around, with careful choices needed to be made when levelling up. Those levels take some time to achieve (unless you spend the bulk of your time in co-op) and there will never be enough points to get everything you want. This is balanced by Badass points which are awarded for just about each action in game. A kind of mini-level-up system that gives another layer of performance modification to your character that consistently pops up.
Get used to the inventory and other menus in the game, spending time comparing the myriad and frequent loot gathered to that you already have equipped. Gearbox Software almost makes this a breeze, but if you are somewhat pedantic about ensuring the highest damaging gun is equipped, with a few backups for certain circumstances then the limited size backup will require some tough decisions.
Great writing, tongue-in-cheek game-play, unique art style and frenetic fun when played with friends, plus some brand new DLC, Borderlands 2 is a great diversion from a sea of serious military shooters.
“The love we’ve felt for Borderlands 2 is driving us wild and ever since we completed development of the main game, we have been fired up about creating great, new content to expand the experience,” said Randy Pitchford, President of Gearbox Software. “I am thrilled to announce the release of Borderlands 2’s first additional player character, Gaige the Mechromancer, delivered ahead of schedule. I’m also incredibly excited about Captain Scarlett and her Pirates’ Booty, which is an all-new grand adventure for Borderlands 2 and the first of a four-part season full of big, original campaign expansions.”