I never played the original Borderlands. Don’t hate me, it just never appealed to me, looking like the cartoony, poor cousin of Fallout. It wasn’t until much later when I noticed that lots of people were raving about it that I began to take notice of it, but by then there were other games to keep me occupied. Then a while back I got the opportunity for some hands on time with an early build of the game. Having to jump into a mid point of the game so that I could experience the action made things a bit hairy for me, a complete Borderlands virgin, but I could tell that there was some magic to this cartoony game. It was a game I certainly wasn’t going to miss out on second time around.
From what I’ve read, Borderlands 2 is a direct sequel and the story picks up shortly after the first finished. You get to be one of four Vault Hunters who seem to have arrived to the party a little late, but never mind, cause they are soon thrown into a story that conscripts them – or at least you in single player – into a mission to stop this crazy ass guy called Handsome Jack.
It’s possibly quite tongue in cheek how similar yet different the beginning is to that of Fallout New Vegas, but any similarities to the last Fallout game stops right there, as Borderlands 2 pretty speedily turns into one of the most fun romps I’ve had for some time. It’s a full on first person shooter with strong RPG elements and a story driven but exploreable world. It has humour that saturates the storyline and plenty of side quests to keep you happy – and enable you to level up your character.
And then there’s the loot. I learnt about RPG’s the hard way when I first played Fallout 3 and initially ignored all the stupid bottle caps I was finding. These days I know that any RPG worthy to be considered an RPG will have loot that demands to be found and used. Borderlands takes loot and makes it almost a total preoccupation as you search everywhere, hoping to find the next best gun, shield or whatever.
And then there’s death. Death is never a kind thing, and can be a frustrating end to many a gaming session. Not so with borderlands. You die, and you get regenerated at the nearest regeneration station – and there’s always one close by. Regeneration does cost a little money, but that’s ok, you can always loot more.
So big boss battles aren’t so scary any more. You know that if you die, you’ll get to come back, and the guys you previously killed, stay dead. Nice. Now some of you might be thinking, hold on a second, that makes the game too easy. Well it doesn’t, it just makes it less frustrating. No one really wants to get killed, and it hurts just a little bit every-time you die, but at least you get to jump right back into the fun straight away rather than worrying about where your last save point was.
Graphically the game is nice, not quite what I’m used to, but the style suits the game that you really don’t notice that you used to think it looked cartoony. When you’re playing Borderlands 2, it just feels like Borderands 2 and you get lost in the game.
As with any RPG, character customisation is where it’s at, you kill, do side missions, kill, and kill so that you can level up and pick new attributes or upgrades for your character. The skill trees in Borderlands 2 mean that even though there are only four character types to begin with, by the end of the game you could have a wildly different character to someone else playing the same character.
Add to this the Badass Ranking and in-game challenges and you’ve got a game that almost goes out of it’s way to reward you for doing what you like doing best: killing people and having fun.