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Borderlands was the surprise hit of 2009. With three years of development behind it, is Borderlands 2 one of the best shooters of all time?

Posted by Staff on Oct 9, 2012 14:58 (Oct 9, 2012 14:58)

Written by: Ian
Borderline brilliant:
Borderlands was the surprise hit of 2009. With three years of development behind it, is "Borderlands 2" one of the best shooters of all time? Gearbox have taken their time, bought in new classes, new enemies and the already insane numbers of guns have now gone through the roof.
My impressions at Gamescom were also very favourable, so I was wet with excitement when this game finally dropped through my letterbox.
Set 5 years after the original Borderlands, you’re still back on Pandora and are still a Vault-hunter, although you play one of a number of new characters. The old guys are still there though, handing out the quests this time (which seems odd as they were mute before), and a dude called Handsome Jack has turned up to try and kick the living crap out of you. With the help out the old hunters, ClapTrap and the crazy residents of Pandora (some new and some old), it’s up to you to go stop him. There’s definitely more of a coherent story here than in the first game, with more of a mystical feel to it.
It’s still not the strongest shooter story I’ve ever played, but it’s a decent improvement over the first game.
Talking of the first game, if you ever played the first one, it’s not hard to see just how similar the two games are. There are new enemy types, but they mostly still run at you, and whilst the Ai has been improved to a degree, I was mostly able to just continue running backwards all the time, even if aiming took a little bit more skill.
Borderlands 2 screenshot #1
The missions are pretty similar, with the usual RPG tropes of fetch-quests, kill-quests, and a combination of the two, maybe with the odd little puzzle thrown in for good measure. I was pretty surprised at how similar the games were- part of me feels like it’s just an incredibly generous expansion pack. And incredibly generous it is.
There’s a 30- hour campaign, the chance to the start a new game +, and the other character classes to play through. 100% completion with the game would probably take upwards of 250 hours. And it’s the new character classes which are really the reason to play the game, and the things that change up the gameplay most over the first game. I’m playing as the ‘gunzerker’, a really big dude who has the ability to dual wield. In this mode, he gets to restore health and ammo as if by magic, gets to dual-wield, and generally be pretty bad-ass.
Borderlands 2 screenshot #2
All of the characters have their advantages and disadvantages, as usual, but none of them really feel that much like the originals, perhaps with the exception of the Commando, Anton. Either way, levelling up is still fun, although ideally I think I’d like to see a faster progression system. You spend the first five levels without any abilities, then they only trickle through just over once per hour of play. Given how much they change the way the game plays, I’d like to see a longer tree and faster levelling for sure.
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