Borderlands 2

Borderlands 2


Platform: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Genre: Shooter, RPG

Borderlands 2 ostensibly contains all the ingredients necessary for a game to be tremendous, addictive fun.

It begs to be assessed on its prettiness. The first Borderlands had a tendency to litter its desert fields with identical, Jason-inspired rebreather masks and chitinous arachnids. Even then its aesthetic was fairly ageless: a cartoonish but gritty palette that made no attempt to be realistic. The second game is saturated with colourful organic and robotic foes that flail chaotically. Explosion and class-unique skill effects all look strikingly vibrant, even with months of development still to come.

It was the piles of guns, mostly useless scrap metal that fell from the corpses of the fallen, which contributed most to the addictiveness of the first game. It wasn’t a new formula then (the obvious comparison is Diablo), and it doesn’t seem to be refined much in Borderlands 2. Other than a nice upgrade in aesthetic variety, loot mechanics have evaded consideration by developer Gearbox. This is odd – imagine never discussing the driving mechanics of a racing game – but it indicates where the real upgrades lie.

Basic, monotonous shooting mechanics are the bane of any impure FPS. Borderlands 2 does everything it can to avoid that trap. Remember all the flailing limbs? It turns out they can be removed one-by-one, rendering the cretin utterly disabled. Mobility is imperative too. Enemies take advantage of tough environmental obstacles and swarm in groups. Certain mechs must be flanked to prevent your own fire from being deflected right back at you.

The game attempts to marry a shooter with a grindy, loot-based RPG. The latter requires a handful of contrasting character classes, which Borderlands 2 aims to provide. A hefty gunzerker, with a plaster that binds together a nose that is perpetually shattered, can duel-wield any two in-game weapons. His clever ambidexterity complements the stealth of the assassin and the wound-management of the siren.
This article first appeared in Issue 13, 2012.
Posted 7:40pm Sunday 27th May 2012 by Toby Hills.