Return to the Borderlands
It has been a few years since we set foot on Pandora for the first Borderlands, and my, how time has flown since the first gameís release back in 2009. We loved the original game and for many of us here at Games Xtreme it became our replacement Diablo. In fact as a refresher we called it, Diablo with gunsÖpretty much.Borderlands 1 review for the Xbox 360
The original game did have a few problems but it also has a cult following and we threw hundreds of hours into the core game, bolstered by the excellent General Knoxx DLC.
Now weíre back on Pandora for the sequel and if you donít want to read the rest of the review, itís a great game and well worth all the praise that itís been getting from press and public alike. We are once again thoroughly addicted and have taken several days extra to get the review out, because we canít stop playing Borderlands 2.Story
The original four Vault Hunters have been replaced by four new ones, a bad guy known as Handsome Jack, leader of the Hyperion Corporation has appeared on the scene and is attempting to civilise Pandora and the Borderlands via force and explosive charm. Heís looking for a new Vault, an even bigger one and it could spell doom for everyone if he finds it. Itís up to you to get out there and stop Jack, once and for all.Gameplay
Borderlands 2 is a first person rpg-lite, loot driven shooter with several improvements over the original both in single player and cooperative multiplayer. It is a fantastic sequel which deserves every accolade thrown at it. Everything about 2 is smoother and better, the controls are sharper and the design is definitely several steps up from the first game.
Virtually all aspects of Borderlands 1 have been redesigned and reworked from the shooting controls, vehicle controls, character menus, choices you make at the end of some missions and rewards that you get.
Quest design has been reworked, the experience system, the skill trees, the skills themselves and of course there are now four new Vault Hunter classes to play with. None of them feel like a re-tread of the old ground from Borderlands either.
Axton is the new Soldier replacement, known as the Commando and he now focusses on support via his (better) Sabre turret and three punishing skill trees. Axton is the perfect solo character since the turret is a life saver in some of the tougher fights.
Zer0 is the Mordecai (Hunter) replacement and he focuses mostly on melee damage, with his skill as a combination of Lilith (the Siren) and her old Phasewalk/melee damage. Zer0 throws down a decoy and becomes invisible. He can also specialise in sniping if you want a really deadly ranged character class.
Maya is the gameís new Siren, gone is the Phasewalk, she can use Phaselock to trap an enemy in a sphere of energy for a short while. Several of the bigger enemies can be locked down like this and her healing tree makes her a valuable medic/support character for a group play style. She can unlock healing bullets which were Rolandís (the Soldier) forte in the last game. She can also heal the team whilst an enemy is Phaselocked and deal incredible elemental damage based on skills taken.
Then we have Salvador, heís new, heís the Gunzerker. He replaces Brick save for the fact that Brick was a fist guy in a shooting game. Well, Salvador is a gun guy who can wield two of any weapon simultaneously when he Gunzerks. Itís an amazing skill tree that brings on punishing damage against bosses when used correctly.
Even the way that you approach the gameís menuís has been altered with a far more visual design, itís easier to get the game up and running, choose a character and start playing. There is no divide between single player and multi either, the lobby is a great addition and lets you setup the perfect party of friends before you dive into the crazy madness that is Pandora.
You can easily switch from Xbox Live, Party, Invite Only, System Link, Split Screen and Offline play.
The game scales based on the number of players (1-4) and offers improved loot, more monsters, more variants and greater rewards for the higher number of players. There are brand new enemies, new enemy types as well, but youíre going to have to find those out by searching the Borderlands yourselves!
You have a wider variety of options when it comes to player customisation, with unlockable skins and heads in the game offering a better visual design for individual players and their play style. Catch-A-Ride, the gameís vehicle system has also been tweaked, with vehicle skins and a 4 player capable buggy unlocked later in the game.
The player character menu has been changed too, with easier to use GUI improvements, quest, equipment and more sortable into a variety of categories. Itís sweet and it works perfectly. You can also change split screen between horizontal and vertical and the GUI has been adapted to show correctly for the players without scrolling when you use vertical split.Guns anyone, did you say a Bazillion?
There are even more combinations of procedurally generated guns in Borderlands 2. Guns, loot, shields, grenade mods and more, itís all randomly generated in terms of stats, looks, quirks and so on. The variance is far better and Gearbox has really pushed their system to the next level. The difference between the various manufacturers is apparent in stats, in looks and in weapon design. You can tell it is a Jakobs gun, because they do massive damage and tend to have a very Wild West theme about their design, using a lot of wood in the gunís construction.
Vladov are Russian in design so they get lots of AK-47/74 inspired creations.
Maliwan do less damage but make up for it with a futuristic look and elemental attributes.