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Borderlands 2 Review

Mike Kayatta | 18 Sep 2012 21:53
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When the last enemy hits the dirt, it's time for Borderlands' other driving force: loot, loot, loot. Like the rest of the game, treasure hunting has been generously amped - often to the point of absurdity. A large bandit camp can have fifty or more containers to rummage through, most with little more than a paltry two-dollar take. Instead of finding all the ammo you need one a single cache, you'll hop around an area opening twenty or more chests, port-a-potties, and boxes to find just one clip in each. It's not every time you clear an area, but whenever priority shifts from "How much loot can you get?" to "How many loot containers can you open?" things get tedious, though fortunately never quite enough to make you quit searching.

The task of opening every container in sight gets better when you have one or more friends in coop to lighten the load, and since currency and ammo gets shared with the group as it's found, scavenging rarely becomes an obnoxious race when it comes to the essentials. Guns, however, are a different matter entirely, and the enjoyment you find in playing with others versus flying solo will probably come down to how well you can agree to divvy the goods. All weapons are a first come, first served reward, so things can get tense when there's just one ultra-rare slag-spitting sniper rifle waiting at the end of a four-hour mission. You have the option to duel for it if you're so inclined, but the person who actually grabbed the gun has to agree to fight you for it, and even if he or she does, the player-versus-player fights are often grossly uneven.

There's also no form of level scaling in cooperative play, so you'll need to put in a similar amount of time as your friends if you're looking to keep having a good time - a feat that becomes all the more difficult as you grow a party from two to three or four. Lower-level players fighting stronger monsters will earn XP quicker, making the effect less pronounced when there's just a small level gap from the strongest party member, but there's no mechanism in place for when that gap is so large that fighting those stronger monsters becomes impossible. In these situations, there's little more to do than simply start a new character if you want to play with a friend who's just starting, but since the more interesting enemies don't show until later on, the prospect of reverting to level one each time you want to play with someone new to Pandora can be somewhat unappealing.

Whatever minor speedbumps the game has, however, are easily dismissed when faced with the core package; it's simply fun as hell to run around gunning up Pandora. The deliberate, constructed continuation of what made the first Borderlands such a sensation is never hard to spot in its sequel, even if actual innovation almost exclusively takes a backseat to tradition. Yes, not much has changed from the original's blueprint of loot-driven combat, but did you really want it to? In the end, Borderlands 2 is really all it ever should have been: an excess of weapons, an excess of targets, and a beautifully crafted system putting them together.

Bottom Line: Borderlands 2 is a denser, richer version of it's predecessor, never compromising on the gunplay that made the series worthy of a sequel.

Recommendation: If you had fun on your first vault tour, you'll almost certainly enjoy a second. And if you missed the Borderlands craze on the first go around, there's absolutely no reason not to hop in on its follow-up.

This review was based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.

Game: Borderlands 2
Genre: Shooter
Developer: Gearbox
Publisher: 2K Games
Platform(s): PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Available from: Amazon(US), GameStop(US), Amazon(UK), Play.com(UK)

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