Developed by Gearbox Studios
Reviewed by Matt ‘Siren’ Adcock
"Hey kiddo. Jack here - President of Hyperion. Lemme explain how things work here: Vault Hunter shows up. Vault Hunter looks for the new Vault. Vault Hunter gets killed. By Me. See the problem here? You're still alive. So, if you could just do me a favour and off yourself that'd be great. Thanks, Pumpkin."
This is the up-beat intro given to new players of Borderlands 2 by ‘Handsome Jack’ – a guy so evil that he lists shooting children as one of his lighter recreational hobbies… You play the part of a Vault Hunter – and taking down Jack, bringing freedom to the people of Pandora and finding the legendary ‘Vault’ - that's your mission.
"come visit Pandora - bring a gun!'
Borderlands 2 picks up the plot shortly after the end of the first game. Those who played the original will find everything in place – the mechanics of shooting and getting around are immediately familiar, the choice of character to play nicely balanced across four classes (Commando = soldier with his own auto turret, Gunzerker = tank who can dual wield two weapons at once, Siren (that’s me BTW) = semi magic user who has a power called ‘Phase Lock’ to immobilise enemies and Assassin = stealth with a cloaking power. There are more classes on the way via DLC too but these are a great range to pick from to begin with.
But whilst the game feels familiar, it also feels ‘refined’ – it’s slicker, better and more fun and still packs possibly the best shooting / loot-based game engine ever!? Grinding your way to better levels and buying tastier weaponry is the core and it is just as addictive this time around. Working your way up to the initial level cap of 50 means that you’ll meet and kill an agreeably eclectic mix of foes across Pandora too. What is great here is the Non Player Characters are more compelling – plus you’ll get to meet the four original vault hunters from the first game!?
"you'll meet all sorts!"
As well are the dangerously awesome gun fighting combat, the dialogue is just superb too, you’ll not want to skip the cut scenes as they are always well-written and often laugh out loud wrong. From the fun CL4P-TP steward bot, sidekick ‘Claptrap’ to his friends, through to homicidal teenage cutie ‘Tiny Tina’ and the insidious Handsome Jack (whose best line is probably "Butt stallion says "Hello". “), these are a bunch of characters you’ll have lots of fun hanging out with!
Borderlands 2 claims to pack over a million guns, so it’s going to be take some time to collect em all but this gives the game a killer one more quest, one more level up, one more gun / shield / artefact compulsion – not good for your sleep levels!? Then there’s the excellent online co-op for up to four players (or 2 split screen) – this is just lots of fun, and makes the game even more enjoyable as you swap banter and nicked each other’s loot drops.
"the wildlife is very erm, friendly!?"
As Charlie Brooker once said: “Shooting people in the face never gets old”
If you hated Borderlands, you might not enjoy Borderlands 2 but then I feel sorry for you as you obviously have no taste in games… Borderlands 2 is an epic, addictive and altogether genius game – it looks, plays and feels lovely on the PS3 which was the development machine – so if you are looking for a high quality game to see you through to 2013, this should be top of your list!!
Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:
ööööö – Gotta shoot em all!
5 – Compulsive, beautiful and very satisfying!