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Default Borderlands 2

May 5th, 2013, 02:38
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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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June 3rd, 2013, 13:10
I never noticed your reviews despite many hours lost in the forum, well I usually don't read reviews. But that's very cool stuff.

Myself it's only 40 hours of gaming, not finished play it but great time overall. Anyway some details:

About the respawn: There's respawn but it's been hugely improved in comparison to the 1. They worked on multiple points:
  • They spread more selling points so you could sell your stuff before having to drop it or go back. It's an indirect improvement point, but the effect is quite real, it lowdown a lot the respawn. But strangely it seems it didn't worked for you, I wonder why.
  • They low down a lot the respawn time so many time you'll come back and there will be no respawn yet, the 1 was rather awful on that point. Moreover the respawn will be less shocking.
  • In case you have to come back to a place, you are most often approaching from a different direction and they put care to have respawn places and their fight setup quite different depending of your direction approach. It's because those respawn places are very structured area places and structured respawn.
  • Re fight once or twice the same respawn location can be very fun unlike in 1. Those respawn places are very structured, so you can apply very different tactics for managing the place. A respawn becomes like two or three quite different fights.
  • Often you can find a road to avoid go through a respawn place if you prefer. The 1 had that too partially but I think it's improved in 2.

I think they could improve this respawn more by having no respawn until you can't see the place anymore and even start the time count at this moment. At least this should be a game option.

In my opinion the game breaking respawn isn't this respawn but the objects respawn each time you reload, that more or less killed for me the mood and the illusion.

About the quests: Ok good writing, good chaining, fair diversity, that special system of the game with quest and story telling through radio com has few bugs, but it proves to be overall very efficient.

But they strongly failed the quest searching aspect. There's some work on that point but it's overall failed, you quickly end in just following a cursor. There's multiple reasons for that. But one is coming from a wrong approach of the core mechanism of the game.

Many quests are related to items, enemies, characters, and locations to find. There's a fairly good job to have the items mildly hidden but they spawn only when a quest is started, and it can't work like that without a stupid cursor. It can't because you find an area and you explore it, search in corners, and stuff. Then later a quest starts and trigger some spawning in that area, cool but too late, you won't search and dig again that area so you just follow the cursor.

For enemies and characters it's more arguable and could be related to evolutions, but most often the game don't bother manage it, so it ends of giving up try find clues and significations and you end just follow a boring stupid cursor.

Second game breaking point for me.

About the graphics: So you seem on the realist point of view, the more realistic and the more detailed, the better it is.

For me no matter the detail level or realism level, it's always very far to be realistic, take an old but not too old game you was considering very realistic and replay it and quote how unrealistic it seems now, that's pure illusion.

But the style and the art design, that is a huge point. Skyrim thrown a dangerous precedent case by reaching a stunning quality on this aspect. Anyway, in it's own style, for sure more cartoon on choice, Borderland 2 is just a great achievement on that point. Mood, style, appeal, everything strong, in comparison of Skyrim it is just missing the art design quality level, but it is stronger on points like mood and originality. Skyrim graphics will perhaps become dated despite the art quality level, Borderlands 2 will never be dated on that aspect, thanks to the very strong style approach.
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June 5th, 2013, 05:10
Originally Posted by Ihaterpg View Post
I never noticed your reviews despite many hours lost in the forum, well I usually don't read reviews. But that's very cool stuff.
Thanks! I'm hoping people catch on and start popping reviews/commentaries in here so they'll be easy to find. The "I just finished playing…" topic has lots of good ones but they are all jumbled into one, big topic.

They spread more selling points so you could sell your stuff before having to drop it or go back. It's an indirect improvement point, but the effect is quite real, it lowdown a lot the respawn. But strangely it seems it didn't worked for you, I wonder why.
Different play styles? I do tend to poke around a lot. If the respawns are timed, that would do it.
In case you have to come back to a place, you are most often approaching from a different direction and they put care to have respawn places and their fight setup quite different depending of your direction approach. It's because those respawn places are very structured area places and structured respawn.
Or maybe this. It sounds like I was back tracking more to sell off guns.

About the graphics: So you seem on the realist point of view, the more realistic and the more detailed, the better it is.
Yep! I'm afraid the cell shade thing just doesn't please me. (Except for the water. Flowing cartoon water messes with my mind in a pleasant way.)
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June 6th, 2013, 22:56
Nice review!

Borderlands 2 is a good improvement over Borderlands 1.
There's really a lot of comic-book fun and humor in the game - thumbs up!

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. - HL Mencken
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July 11th, 2013, 08:47
Agreed.
I'm playing this at the moment, and even after hearing it multiple times during different characters / play throughs, some of the dialog still makes me chuckle every time.
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