There Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked (A Borderlands 2 review)

You know, they say there ain’t no rest for the wicked…

Following the runaway success of Borderlands, the guys at Gearbox announced they would be working on a sequel in August, 2011. Keeping with their winning formula, the game advances the story of Pandora by five years and introduces a fantastic new villain.

After the opening of the first vault, Lilith, Mordecai, Roland and Brick have parted ways, only to be reunited after your character becomes the first Vault Hunter to survive a meeting with Handsome Jack. Handsome Jack has taken over the Hyperion Corporation, is mining Eridium and wants to stop anything that gets in his way.

The most obvious change to the new game is the new characters. There are five new characters to choose from:

Salvador: Salvador is a Gunzerker (replacing Brick.) He has a talent for wielding two weapons in killing everything in sight.

Maya: As a Siren, she has incredible mystic powers like Lilith. She seeks to find out about other Siren’s and the player finds out about her past through ECHO logs picked up through the game.

Axton: Ex-Military man who has the ability to send out two turrets at once. In game, he often refers to a turret as his “girlfriend” and will introduce her to bandits from time to time.

Zer0: An Assassin who only speaks in haiku

His blade is deadly.

Refrigerator.

(I’m not very good at haiku)

The final Vault Hunter is a new class to the register. Introduced as a pre-order Bonus, she was code-named “Premier’s Club”, but now she’s known as Gaige the Mechromancer.

Gaige and her “Bully Deterrent” Deathtrap (D374-TP) came to Pandora after coming third in the science fair. Gaige also cut off her arm so she could summon Deathtrap without needing a remote.

All in the name of Science!

Gearbox also kept the comic book feel of the visuals. A technique known as cel-shading, it’s not used by many AAA games, so it helps the game stand out. It also suits the style of game, as it doesn’t try to feel too realistic. It feels more cartoonish which is refreshing in a world full of “super-realistic FPS’s”.

The cartoonish feel is also extended to the new bad guy. Handsome Jack, Borderlands 2’s primary antagonist, is the perfect combination of arrogant sunovabitch and hilarious clown. He taunts you in the first few levels, even offering to name his diamond horse (It’s a real horse made of diamonds) “Piss-For-Brains” in honour of you, but decided that “Butt Stallion” was more fitting. Your feelings for Jack often swing between “I’m going to murder you so hard you’ll die” to occasionally rooting for him and even feeling some sick form of sympathy.

Similarly to the original Borderlands, there’s still an annoying low-level cap which you can reach with a considerable amount of ease and a plethora of skills to choose from but not enough points to perfect your character. It seems a little counter-intuitive to have tonnes of skills but not enough skill points available to complete a certain skill tree.

Additionally, Gearbox has improved the inventory system. It’s far easier to navigate and makes more sense compared to the system in the original Borderlands. The new inventory can sort items by brand and type which comes in handy since there are bazillions more guns than in the last game. With pistols, shotguns, rifles and grenades a plenty, being able to pick out the perfect weapon without endless scrolling through other items can save you plenty of time and frustration.

The developers have listened to the little criticism that people found in the last game and improved on it. They’re ensuring the game has a long life with new DLC campaigns like Captain Scarlet and her Pirate’s Booty and the future release of Mr. Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage. Its predecessor had huge replay value because of the DLC campaigns and Gearbox intends to keep Borderlands 2 going for a long while.

Everything that grew on me in the first game has been improved on in the second game. While the game isn’t without its imperfections, Gearbox hasn’t made any massive mistakes. The characters are still full of wit and punny one-liners, the maps are vast and varied and there’s plenty to do. You’ll never get bored while you’re on Pandora. Why not stay a while?

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