Thread: Borderlands 2
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May 5th, 2013, 02:38
Hours Played: 70, all single player
DLC Used: None
Class Played: Assassin/Sniper

Borderlands 2, like Borderlands before it, is very much a hybrid RPG/shooter. The vast majority of your time is going to be spent shooting baddies by the truckload but you also have classes, skills, quests, and some outlandish characters to hand those quests out.

Story
The story in the first Borderlands really left me cold. The ending was just not satisfying at all - and this from a person who liked Mass Effect 3's ending. Borderlands 2's story is not just better, it actually makes the story in the original Borderlands better! Several outlandish characters keep things interesting and your arch-nemesis, Handsome Jack, is really an interesting bad guy.

Now, that said, don't go into this game expecting something on the level of Dragon Age: Origin's story. This is just a good, campy story to keep you entertained and to give reasons to do your quests.

Quests
Quests are fairly well done. This game is all about the shooting so the vast majority of the quests involve raiding some area and shooting a lot of critters/crazies. The reasons for doing so are interesting enough, though, so it works for me. But… there's a thing…

A typical area will have two or three quests in it. If you get all these quests at once, you can make one trip into the area and get all of them done in one glorious raid. If you miss one, though, and decide you really want to do it, you go back in to the very same area and fight the very same enemies. Ugh.

Oh, and yeah, there are definitely respawns. If you want to back-track to that store to sell off some inventory, you'll probably have to fight your way there and back again. From what I found, the money really isn't worth the trouble. You're best off just tossing the cheaper junk and moving on. Once I started doing that, the respawn annoyance was much less annoying.

Graphics/Art
Technically the graphics aren't really much to write home about. The game has to work on current-gen consoles, after all, so you can't expect a whole lot.

The art style is, well, it's cell-shaded. It's definitely very different than what I'm used to seeing. My reaction is… conflicted. I don't really like the simplicity of the cell-shaded style or the black lines around everything but, on the other hand, it sure was nice to see something different. (Cell-shaded water flowing was quite cool.)

The music is well done but it seemed to me like there should have been more of it.

Character Development
Each of the four classes has three skill trees with about 10 skills each. It's probably possible to cross over and have some skills from different trees but I finished the main game using just the sniper tree, putting my xp into advancing skills within the tree instead of trying to increase my melee attacks or anything like that in another assassin tree. There's not much wiggle room in the trees but having 3 per class gives you a lot of choices starting out.

Much of your development after your initial class choice will come from the guns you find, earn via quests, or even buy at vending machines. You'll have to weigh the damage, reload time, magazine size, recoil, and other factors into your loadout of (eventually) four guns. Furthermore, you'll have a slot for grenades and a sheild slot - both of which have at least as much variety as the guns. You also get a relic slot and a class mod slot but I wasn't as impressed with these. Picking your weapons and shield are what will really set your character apart from others of the same class.

Saving De-Graces
Early in the game I was fighting my way through a big base. There were several checkpoints along the way that I would pop back to if I managed to get myself killed (which I did rather often). It was getting late and it looked like I was only about two thirds of the way through so I went ahead and quit for the night. When I got back into the game the next day, I found myself all the way back at the start of the mission! I still had all the loot and xp from last night but my progress was gone. I was NOT a happy vault hunter! Once I knew about the save system it wasn't too horrible. I would even use it to my advantage sometimes as a quick way back to the inevidable vending machines at the mission/zone start. If your environment is prone to frequent thunderstorms (be they weather or family related), however, this could be a game killer for you.

The game is really "supposed" to be played in co-op with up to three other people. (Perhaps that's why the save system is the way it is?) I found it to be quite fun and playable with just one, though, so don't let a lack of playing partners stop you. I did actually try to play with one other guy but he has the Macintosh version and that never was version compatible with what I was playing.

Verdict
I'm glad I bought it and I mostly enjoyed playing through it. The save system and repeating of mission areas caused me problems early in the game but I was able keep a lid on those once I figured out what was going on. The respawning was annoying throughout the game but between the outlandish characters and the constant tweaking of what guns to tote, I was having more than enough fun to make it worth the pain.
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