Borderlands 2 Review: Back and Better

Did you like Borderlands? Of course you did, it was a game of pure fun. Well, Borderlands 2 has far and away eclipsed everything that was great about the first game, and added even more. Just like the first one, don’t bother with this game if you want artistic appeal or dramatic flair. This is a game for the average person.

Coming off of the great variation in weaponry of the original, Borderlands 2 has upped the ante, adding more options, more distinctions, and even a new element (slag). The returning Vault Hunters are similar to very similar to the originals, which is fine. After all, the originals were fun and their replacements follow suit. Whatever your style, there’s a character for you. Battle is fast and furious, with very few issues. Like before, you (eventually) have four slots for guns, along with slots for customizing grenades, shields, and the character itself. A new addition to this is the ability to use Eridium, a mineral that started popping up after the opening of the first vault, to upgrade the character’s weapons’ ammo capacity and personal storage capacity.

The glue that binds this game together, just like the first game, is its dialogue. The writing is simply impeccable. Laughs will be abound within minutes of starting. From Claptrap’s incessant and egotistical ranting, deliciously scripted NPC’s, and all of the little touches strewn about. As with the first game, the pop cultures references range from topical (such as dubstep and “I see what you did there”) to the more obscure (various cult films and video games). Even the various nameless characters who serve no purpose are given attention and personality.

One of the enormous improvements is the programming of the AI. They now have the capability to be strategists, using flanking, cover, various members having specific roles, etc. The player is truly forced to think before they shoot. Well, at least for a bit. Between this and the various standard enemies both having a far greater variety as well as a far greater variety in how they must be defeated, and you’ve got a much improved combat system.

The downloadable content has been a smash hit, opening up the world to brand new areas, quests, and even a fifth Vault Hunter, Gaige, a Necromancer. The highlight, of course, is getting to use a brand new Vault Hunter with a much different play style than we’ve seen before, adding even more options and variety to an already immense game.

A fun surprise is the inclusion, in one way or another, of the original four Vault Hunters from the first game. In addition to this, many of the unseen characters from the first game, such as Scooter the mechanic, Zed the doctor, and the various weapons smiths all finally appear in person, with the ensuing interactions (especially with Scooter) being comedy gold.

With its enormously improved AI (that actually beats out most games, regardless of genre), the continuation of what was great from the first game, and excellent DLC, Borderlands 2 definitely lived up to its predecessor and then some. If there is a third installment (to do otherwise would be ludicrous), it will have a very high bar to surpass.

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