Reviews: Border Lands 2

An excellent game that I wish I could finish.

Let me just be straight up about this now: I have not finished Borderlands 2. I enjoyed the characters, I enjoyed the story, I enjoyed the vibrant, colorful landscapes, the reference-laden humor and the 87 bazillion guns promised on the package.

So why I couldn't I finish it? It was too goddamned hard and clearly not designed for solo-minded players like myself.

The original Borderlands was challenging, but not so challenging that I threw down the controller in frustration after dying horribly for the umpteenth time. The original Borderlands was not so easy that it warranted an upgrade to Nintendo Hard for the sequel. The sheer difficulty of the enemies you encounter make it apparent that Borderlands 2 was designed primarily for co-op play, something some players like myself simply can't do on a regular basis even if I wanted to.

I like this game. I want to finish it, but every time I try, it simply becomes frustratingly difficult to the point where it feels like a chore rather than a game. If it wasn't for this, it would be damn near perfect and that's what absolutely kills me about this. If I didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't care. But I do, and I know I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Season Pass thoughts

Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate's Booty - It's alright by me. Not General Knoxx good, but still serviceable enough although still weaker than the base game. Still some pretty neat treasures that I can obtain in the endgame, including E-Tech and Purple-rarity weapons in chests just after beating the final boss. Also pretty accessible at any time so long as you are around level 15 at least, so you don't have to worry about the storyline in relation to this.

Mr. Torgue's Campaign of Carnage - Now THAT is a markedly better arena-based DLC than the first game's Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot was. Far less irritating gameplay-wise, and Mr. Torgue is a rather entertaining character. If there is one issue that I have with this DLC, aside from the fact that it's also weaker than the base game, the final boss can be pretty irritating to solo without using an exploit, but still doable. Still has its moments of fun but I didn't really bother completing all of the arena quests there. Similar to Captain Scarlett, can be played at anytime regardless of where you are in the main story, but still requires at least around level 15.

Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt - Undoubtedly the weakest of the four. Not terrible, but it feels kinda short, even when you include sidequests. I can accept that there are some bullet-spongy enemies such as spores, as irritating as it can be, but Witch Doctors are pretty annoying to deal with, particularly vampiric ones (shudder). Additionally, compared to the first two DLCs, the endgame just doesn't pay off as well. Sorry Hammerlock, you're a decent questgiver, but this just isn't your day. Still has its moments, and given the high level requirement can pose a decent challenge, but still the weakest.

Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep - Easily the best DLC of the four. Can't really get into detail without spoiling the base game's story, because not only does it have a high level requirement, it also trusts that you finished the game the first time through, because there are elements that tie into the main story. What I can say is that Tina's DMing can make for some real fun moments as the game goes on, and I absolutely love Brick here.

Overall: Pretty good (particularly for Dragon Keep), but try waiting for a sale. 7.5/10

Everything a sequel should be

I was first introduced to the Borderlands series about two years ago, when my brother showed me the first game. I was a bit skeptical at first (admittedly, Japanese RP Gs are more my area of expertise) but the idea of "RPS shoot and loot" gameplay intrigued me. I gave it a try and sure enough, I fell in love and played the co-op for hours on end. Needless to say, when I caught wind of a sequel my expectations were quite high. And the end result has exceeded every one of them.

The greatest thing about Borderlands 2 is that it adds so much more depth and variety without losing the addictive gameplay, art style and humor that made the first so good. The campaign is twice the size of the first one, and very exciting and well paced. There is MUCH more (fully voiced) NPC interaction. The characters and dialogue are hilarious and well-written, with a nice mix of both funny and poignant moments. And of course, there's a slew of sidequests to do along the way, most of them much more unique than the standard Twenty Bear Asses and Fetch Quest fare from the first game. Feel like robbing a bank? Sure. Igniting a clan war between two families? Go for it.

The graphics still sport the same unique cel-shaded look, but the character models are definitely better animated and more polished looking. Unlike the first game which was mostly sand and deserts, there's a lot more variety in the environments you visit. Snowfields, bandit-occupied cities, mountains, Hyperion robot factories, arenas, underground name it.

Anyone who played the original will be immediately familiar with the gameplay. Complete missions, kill enemies, find loot, earn experience to level up and progress through three skill trees: the basic concept is the same, but Borderlands 2 expands upon it in several ways. Several new interesting types of enemies to learn, new vehicles, improved skill trees and mods that give you more options for customizing your play style, more Gun Porn and new legendary loot including grenades and class mods. It's also much more challenging than the first.

I can't speak for the DLC as I haven't played any of it yet, but I will say that Borderlands 2 is an extremely rewarding experience with tons of replay value, and easily one of the best games I have played this generation. Highly recommended.