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Review: Borderlands 2 (PS3)

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012 by

Borderlands 2 is a sterling example of how a sequel can build on its predecessor with only minor tweaks and come out feeling better than the original. Everything you loved about Borderlands is back – the mechanics have been finessed for the better, and the story is more engaging than ever before. The battle to liberate Pandora from the tyrannical grip of Handsome Jack is an awesome one.

And what a bastard he is. The antagonist of Borderlands 2 deserves special mention; Handsome Jack is a perfectly constructed jerk. The terrible things he does, coupled with his sociopathic ramblings make him the kind of villain you love to hate, giving you all the fuel you need to see this thing through to the end. There is a great sense of urgency present in Borderlands 2 that makes it feel heavier than the first game – there’s a lot at stake here, and because Borderlands 2′s NPCs are so likeable and fleshed out, your mission to save them and Pandora feels that much more noble.

Borderlands 2 is more of what you came to love about the first game: A delicious blend of the RPG and shooting genres. The gunplay, controls, and AI are tight enough and smart enough to leave little room for complaint, and the character building is deep enough to not feel like a tacked-on afterthought. The new characters are plenty cool and each brings a complimentary mix of skills that help make the multiplayer experience interesting and satisfying. As for the loot, well, suffice it to say there’s a ton of it. I don’t think I’m going to catch too much flak for saying this: snatching up all that randomly generated treasure feels more satisfying here than it did in Diablo III.

Borderlands 2 has a great sense of humor, too. It’s just a damn funny game. Much of this humor is dispensed throughout Borderlands 2′s optional side quests. Each of these missions is well thought-out, designed to intimately connect you with the denizens of Pandora and give you a greater sense of the world at large. They fill out the gaps between story missions quite nicely, and when you pair this clever form of story-telling with the game’s beautiful cell-shaded atmosphere, you have yourself a presentation that’s both distinct and memorable for all the right reasons.

While Borderlands 2 doesn’t warrant any major complaints, it does bring the usual fare of annoyances for games of this type. The abundance of invisible walls are sure to drive you nuts now and then, not to mention the game-breaking pitfalls you might wind up in occasionally; stuff like getting stuck in weird, inescapable pockets or falling through the ground into a bottomless pit of black space. Thankfully, these errors are few and far between, and well within the threshold of tolerance for a game of this kind. For what it’s worth, I never experienced a glitch that required a hard system reset.

Unless you harbor an aversion to running and gunning, you just can’t go wrong with a game like this. Honestly, I’m not much of a first person shooter fanatic, but even I would break for Borderlands 2. Pandora is a beautiful dystopian landscape, peppered with folks who matter and a good variety of enemies to keep your finger on the trigger. It’s a good old-fashioned loot collecting funfest that gets better when you play it with friends. Spend some time with it, and it’s a safe bet you won’t be disappointed.

5 star

About the Author

Mark A. Brooks uses the A. initial in his name so as to seperate himself from the teeming legions of other Mark Brookses (there are at least 65,000 in the state of Michigan alone). Keep up with him on twitter, because why not. @unoriginalG

Mark A. Brooks has written 626 posts on Delta Attack
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  • http://xca2.com/ Brian

    One thing I appreciate about Borderlands 2 is that it feels like there’s a lot more variation between the character classes than in our first visit to Pandora. In part that’s because the characters are a little more integrated into the story and the world. It’s also because the old gang from Borderlands is such a huge part of the game, and seem more varied and interesting this time, too. Most importantly, between the action skills and the really interesting skill trees for each, the character classes encourage a couple of approaches to play and let you really go for it.

    This really drove home for me when the Mechromancer preorder-bonus/DLC class appeared. That character felt so different from any of the eight characters we’ve played in Borderlands so far, and has actually become my favorite for solo play (so far). The experience of playing a Mechromancer with the Anarchy skills is almost exactly the opposite of playing Zer0 with Deception. It’s a little bit of a miracle that they both fit so well into the same game — and complement each other so well in co-op.

    I read somewhere — wish I could remember a link — that Borderlands was designed to be a hobby, not just an experience. Borderlands fell a little short of that goal, but Borderlands 2 just might live up to that promise.

    • Mark A. Brooks

      Totally. To me, that’s one of Borderlands 2′s nicest touches; the way it weaves the old crew into the story. It’s just as much their game as it is the new character’s, perhaps more so.

      Hell, all the characters, really, are special in some way or another. They done good.