Borderlands 2 sets the bar for shooters
by Connor McNamara and David Raftrey
Published October 30, 2012
Building on the commercial success of “Borderlands,” which hit the market with a bang and showed that the idea of a cooperative, looting first-person shooter could work well, “Borderlands 2,” released last month, attempts to re-energize the franchise by bringing new ideas to the table while sticking to the original format which we all know and love. In “Borderlands 2″ the game developer, Gearbox, has improved their idea to work even better than before.
Even though “Borderlands 2″ is noticeably similar to the original from the start,the game feels different with the new environments, weapons and enemies. Killing your first victim has never felt so rewarding as you run over to see what you have received from the slain monster. “Borderlands 2″ blows past the original.
Set on the planet Pandora five years after the events of the first game in which a vault containing a newly discovered mineral called eridium was opened, “Borderlands 2” is more plunder than plot. This time, a new cast of vault hunters has arrived to search for an even larger vault. The evil Handsome Jack has taken over Pandora with his “Hyperion” organization and plans on using the contents of the vault to destroy the resistance and take over Pandora for good. Essentially, the vault hunters seek to destroy Handsome Jack to stop him from ruling the planet.
At the start of the game, players must choose one of four characters to control, each with unique abilities. The commando character can place a turret to help out with the fight, the gunzerker can shoot two guns at once for a limited time, the siren can phaselock enemies (freeze them in the air) and the assassin is able to send out a hologram of himself to distract foes while turning invisible. The choice of class specialization at the beginning dictates strategy for the rest of the game. This element makes multiplayer interesting, as individuals combine their abilities cooperatively and gives the game replay value if you like to try out more than one play style.
Though the basic combat is straightforward pointing and shooting, class-specialized abilities provide variety to slaying the monsters, robots and monstrous robots populating the game. There is no real penalty for dying; after getting shot down, you are given a time limit in which you must either kill something or receive assistance from a teammate to be revived. If the time runs out, your body is re-spawned at a checkpoint for a small fee, allowing you to run back to the battleground and continue from where you left off.
In contrast to traditional video game graphics which are made as life-like as possible, the graphics in “Borderlands 2” are purposely cartoon-like, which makes the game unique by giving the characters more personality. “Borderlands 2″ also has more color than its predecessor. Whether you are in a desert or a city, the environment is always vibrant. A high level of detail extends to every object in the game, maintaining a realistic feel.
The snappy dialog for the game was created by the writers of the television program “South Park.” Though it does add a humorous element to the game, be aware that a mute button is suggested for younger audiences.
Skill trees add further customization options within each class. With three different skill trees that can range from defensive, to offensive, to healing abilities, you can play through the game with the same character and feel completely different. For example, we can change the effects of our siren’s phaselock. From increasing the damage done, increasing the time or gaining health upon an enemy’s death inside a phaselock.
To add replay value, the designers added a vault hunter mode at the end of the game where you keep your character and play the game again with harder monsters and different guns. The mode makes the game last longer and worth the purchase.
There are a few mishaps, however. When an especially large battle is raging on screen the game’s frame rate can slow down just a tad bit. Customization of your character is limited and all of the loot is shared. This means one person can hog all of the weapons and ammunition.
In conclusion, “Borderlands 2” is a mindless kill-fest with non-stop action and minimal plot. We give “Borderlands” a 9.5 out of 10.
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