There’s nothing quite as subjective as comedy and the characters of Borderlands 2 will either irritate or please, sometimes even both in equal measure. From the weird rap nonsense of Tiny Tina to the cackling, evil tones of Handsome Jack, Borderlands 2 is built on a bizarre world that relies on how much you enjoy its colourful cast of characters. And for us, we definitely loved our time with these crazy people.
While a continuation of the story seen in Borderlands, it’s not imperative that you have played it in order to understand the story. The sequel being most welcoming for newcomers giving the player four new characters to control, the commando Axton, the siren Maya, the gunzerker Salvador and the assassin Zer0. All four of these being Vault Hunters, new to the planet of Pandora who have found themselves in a trap set by the games villain Handsome Jack. Once escaping said trap they team up with Claptrap in order to help bring down Jack and stop him from using the vault for his own nefarious means. There are also the returning characters, including the original Vault Hunters from the first game, and the more secondary characters like Dr Zed and cosplay favourite Moxxxi. Each coming with their own selection of missions and comedic moments. A smile was definitely raised when invitations to Claptrap’s party had to be handed out, none of who chose to attend, cue awkward dancing and hanging around for a couple of minutes while bad music plays.
The framework of Borderlands 2 is close to the original, with loot being grabbed, missions being collected and a whole host of creatures and soldiers standing between you and Handsome Jack. It’s neither an update nor a revolution of the mechanics, more an evolution. The FPS gameplay still remains largely unchanged. Shooting feels great with the amount of guns at your disposal staggering. From sniper rifles to shotguns, each weapon has a specific manufacture that comes with their own strengths. With some giving specific damage types, such as corrosive and fire, with some guns even exploding when they’ve ran dry. This also carrying into the grenade types and shields. The way you approach each combat situation largely depending on what weapons you have equipped, making each battle somewhat tactical, especially when certain enemy types are weaker to certain elements. Coming up against a robot? Then give corrosive weaponry a try. It’s one of the most satisfying shooters in some time.
Then there’s the added ability each character comes equipped with. The commando Axton for instance is able to drop a turret once the skill is fully charged. This then can be levelled up once you gain experience points, as well as the usual shields, health and weapon damage. With plenty of side missions available there’s plenty of opportunity to raise your characters level, with each mission handily letting you know whether this is a too tough for you at your current ability or merely a walk in the park.
Of course, much like the original the game really comes alive in multiplayer. Joining your friends for missions is a delight and works really well. But that’s not to say it lives and dies on its online multiplayer. Even in single player the game is a blast with an absolute ton of content, the world of Pandora being a massive place with variety far outweighing that of its predecessor. From large desert lands that can be traversed by vehicle, ice covered mountains, all the way to luscious green fields and towering structures, there’s plenty to see and do. Made even more impressive with the vibrant Borderlands art style. A cartoony world, with a visceral edge, as limbs fly and heads explode. The only issue with the graphics being the texture pop-in. An issue that plagues far too many games, as it takes a number of seconds before all the textures finally appear.
What the original Borderlands did so well has been grabbed and near perfected with this sequel. The comedy may be hit and miss, but it thrives on its shooting and loot grabbing. Many hours of fun will await you in Pandora.