PS3 Reviews: Borderlands 2 Review

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Borderlands 2 Review

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Graphics:

 

8.8

Gameplay:

 

9.5

Sound:

 

9.1

Control:

 

9.3

Replay Value:

 

9.7

Online Gameplay:

 

9.5

Overall Rating:       9.4

 

 

Publisher:

2K Games

Developer:

Gearbox Software

Number Of Players:

1-4

Genre:

FPS/RPG

Release Date:

September 18, 2012

I didn’t really like Borderlands. It was too empty, the majority of those gazillion guns seemed useless, the story felt nonexistent in some places, and the role-playing elements weren’t quite fleshed-out enough. But now there’s Borderlands 2 and it’s like developer Gearbox Software invaded my thoughts, made a checklist of all the upgrades and additions I wanted, and added all of ‘em to this sequel. Thanks a lot, guys. You just totally screwed me for the next month…I can’t stop playing.

I can’t be sure if we’re looking at a significant visual upgrade when compared to the original offering, and that’s because I don’t have the first title in my collection. But although I couldn’t directly compare and contrast, I know for a fact I like this new visual presentation better, and that’s primarily due to the variety. As I said above, Borderlands just felt too empty and too repetitive in terms of environment. Just…yawn. Seriously. But right out of the gate in the sequel, I’m in the snow and ice. And that’s hardly where it ends. Combine this newfound landscape diversity with a solid and super cool cel-shaded style, and you’ve got something special.

The sound category flourishes thanks to great – and awfully amusing – voice acting, a good soundtrack that could be more prevalent, and a set of effects that makes every encounter sizzle. The balance is excellent, too, as all three audio elements blend well together; one never dominates the other, which leads to a cohesive, engaging package. Claptrap got a tad annoying but other than that, the wide array of voice talent, fitting tracks, and hard-hitting effects make the game a joy to play. I thought the engine noises of the vehicles were a little weird but maybe that’s just me. Overall, the graphics and sound help to cement Borderlands 2 as a top-tier production.

For the record, this game is a direct sequel. You will assume the role of one of four Vault Hunters who have arrived on Pandora in search of treasure-laden vaults. But the Hyperion Corporation controls things now, and boss man Handsome Jack has no love for those Vault Hunters. It’ll be your job to take him down and save the planet and its oppressed peoples, which sounds like a pretty clichéd and even ho-hum storyline. To some extent, it is. But it’s well paced, well written, well acted, and even surprisingly dramatic in some spots. Not memorable but still entertaining.

However, all this being said, you really don’t need to have played the first title to appreciate the second. It’s a separate plot with different classes and characters, and a fresh, beautifully designed world that – while still just a touch bland for my liking – is much more lively and robust than the landscape in the original. In the first hour of play, you’ll have acquired multiple side quests and at least a dozen guns, faced a half-dozen different enemies, and met at least two or three significant characters. I don’t recall things starting as quickly in the first, do you?

Above all, though, there is one word. It’s a short word, a simple word, one that can be applied to a great many video games but somehow means much more here: Loot. Now, before I start to crow about the huge amount of awesome goodies to be found in this game, I will say perhaps my only significant complaint (outside of a minor vehicle issue) involves the fact that I seem to spend absurd amounts of time sifting through my acquired loot. …but then again, I almost always like doing it. That’s the key. It’s just so addictive, gathering in the stuff and checking it out.

The best part is that although the first game focused heavily on loot as well, the sequel throws more at you. There’s more depth, the skill trees are larger and seem to offer more in the way of unique, distinct skills. While the basic skill of each class (Deception for my character, the Assassin Zer0, dual-wield anything for the Gunzerker, etc.) remains the same, you have perfect freedom to experiment with your fighter’s growth. It’s also not hard to reassign your earned points, so you can figure out the very best setup that is tailor-made to your play style.

Then there’s the Badass Ranking system that gives you special tokens upon completing specific tasks. These tasks involve both combat and exploration, so this encourages you to experience the full scope of the game. You’ll definitely want to grab as many tokens as possible, as they serve to up your stats; you can increase reload time, the amount of damage you inflict, etc. So not only do you get to assign (and reassign) skill points to your skill trees (which, by the way, consist of three separate divisions), you can also spend your hard-earned tokens however you see fit. With the loot, it’s like a micromanager’s dream!

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of the game is the aforesaid balancing and pacing mixed with an endless fun factor. Because the enemies aren’t comatose – they’ll dodge, find cover, and even flank – and because you’re constantly assessing your equipment and abilities, each encounter is interesting in numerous ways. I can’t recall playing a shooter that I paid such close attention to. And when I say that, I’m not saying the game is overly challenging, nor am I saying that the gameplay itself requires a lot of focus. What I mean is that I always want to learn more and gather more; I want to make my character better at every single step. You just feel so heavily invested in your advancement.

I suppose that it can get tedious sorting through all those guns and on the surface, the number of stats attached to those guns, along with your character’s myriad of skills, may seem daunting. But most avid gamers will grasp everything quickly enough. The game isn’t designed to be complicated; it’s designed to be deep, and that is a major distinction. The other flaw involves the vehicles, just because you don’t seem to use them enough and the physics don’t feel quite right. They offer a break from the constant shooting but…eh, they don’t really do much for me.

Last but definitely not least is the multiplayer. I confess that the biggest reason I prefer the sequel is because it made the single-player campaign feel worthwhile in every way. At the same time, there’s no doubt that playing with others is not only encouraged, it’s highly recommended. You can go splitscreen with a buddy sitting next to you, or you can play with up to three friends in online co-op, which provides you with one of the best multiplayer experiences of the generation. The only downside is the shared loot, which I say needs to be fixed, but I guess some people like it. They'd have to be a buncha communists, though. ;)

I doubt you’ll have more co-op fun with any other game available. I’m not a fan of multiplayer but this might be the one game I keep playing with friends. Yeah, there’s a level cap of 50 and the game sadly has to come to an end (but not until after 30-35 hours of play), but each of the four classes are just so intriguing and unique that you’ll want to try ‘em all. And what better way to experiment than with the aid of allies in the battlefield? Besides, you get to see what other classes look like; you can weigh the pros and cons just by observing, and I find that very helpful.

Borderlands 2 is basically everything I wanted the first game to be. The multiplayer is a huge draw, of course (some of the very best co-op ever), but now I feel fully invested in the campaign. There’s still not a ton to see all the time, the vehicles are underused, and the story, despite those little surprises, is pretty mundane. But the exploration, the almost flawless combat, the wide-ranging areas, the decent intelligence of your foes, the fantastic design and style, the depth in character growth and development; it’s all absolutely irresistible. This is some crazy bang for your buck and you won’t regret a second of it.

Game of the Year? I’d say yes, so far. Unless you think Journey still has a claim...and it just might.

The Good: Great design and style. Excellent and often hilarious voice performances. Large environments begging to be explored. Plenty of RPG-like depth. Control is crisp and combat is always fun. Loot-gathering never seems to get old. Distinct, diverse character classes. Multiplayer is totally addictive.

The Bad: Still a touch stark. Story is predictable. A missed opportunity with the vehicles.

The Ugly: “Why should I share my loot with you, you coward?!”

9/18/2012 Ben Dutka

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Comments (32 posts)

xenris
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 @ 5:36:42 PM
Reply

Good review. I played about an hour of the game and I already feel like its better than the first one. I however loved the first one and all of its DLC, so I knew I was probably going to like this one a lot as well.

Looking forward to sinking more time in with my friends as this is definitely a game to be played with friends.

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Norrin Radd
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 @ 6:32:00 PM
Reply

Nice review. I wasn't interested in this game much - until the reviews started hitting! Definitely gong to give it a try.

Agree with this comment 4 up, 0 down Disagree with this comment

PoopsMcGee
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 @ 9:14:26 PM
Reply

Good review!

Aren't you a Plus member Ben? The original Borderlands is free at the moment, if you want to do the comparison...

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 @ 9:34:59 PM

Nah, I'm good. I just rated Borderlands 2 as I would if it had been a new IP.

Agree with this comment 2 up, 1 down Disagree with this comment

xenris
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 @ 9:38:46 PM

If you have a borderlands 1 save ben you get an exclusive neat customization part. I think a mask? That could give you some incentive and help with that addiction ;)

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 @ 10:02:10 PM

DO NOT TEMPT ME WITH MORE LOOT!

;)

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LowKey
Thursday, September 20, 2012 @ 7:27:10 AM

OMG, I'm gimp lol'ing

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Killa Tequilla
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 @ 9:42:07 PM
Reply

I will get this game when I see fit.

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CrusaderForever
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 @ 9:44:45 PM
Reply

Uhhgggg, I want to play so bad! I have to wait for my COOP partner until tomorrow night the dope! I am so itching to play! Looking at it right now. At least the Walking Dead Long Road Ahead kept me sane tonight! What a truly great game that is! One more day and it's COOP heaven!

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Beamboom
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 @ 2:03:28 AM

You are playing it like you should, my good man. This title will be exclusively played by my coop buddy and I.
This *is* coop heaven.

Last edited by Beamboom on 9/19/2012 2:04:37 AM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 @ 10:26:54 PM
Reply

Sounds like a blast, I downloaded the first one as a freebie and might give it a shot some day. The backlog is insane and there's two great games coming very soon.

The fact that you like sifting and managing loot makes me wonder why you didn't dig the White Knight Chronicles series more Ben. So much item management and player customization there.

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xenris
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 @ 11:11:37 PM

You better be getting dishonoured.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 @ 11:17:42 PM

There was, but I couldn't get into the combat for some reason.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 @ 11:22:23 PM

Yes I am a Dishonored early adopter :)

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xenris
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 @ 9:26:01 AM

:D excellent. Those devs deserve support man, I have been loving their dev commentary video...or diaries? Whatever they are called, Dishonoured looks to be one of the most refreshing first person experiences since the original Bioshock.

I'm also an early adopter, have it pre ordered and everything :D

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 @ 10:35:13 AM

Me too, I preordered from Amazon, how about you?

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xenris
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 @ 2:52:43 PM

Gamespot for the ps3 version, although I might switch it to the PC version. Because after looking at all the crazy stuff you can do I realized I needed a mouse and keyboard if I wanted to reach my true assassin potential =D

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LowKey
Thursday, September 20, 2012 @ 8:22:36 AM

WKC, Dumb party AI and 3 AI control choices makes for a Less than fun combat.

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Condemnedsoul23
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 @ 10:30:18 PM
Reply

I have my copy sitting here as well and I'm cracking it open tomorrow. As with the first one I'm totally going solo. I like multiplayer but not online. After I finish it a few times I will give it a shot with my GF whom I'm sure will really like it. I also bought the strategy guide for this which is so huge. Looks like an encyclopedia. I didn't need it with the first one but I got the game and season pass for free plus codes for the Mecromancer character when she comes out and access to the premier club and the slaughter dome so I figured I should invest a little of my own cash. Can't wait to give this a try tomorrow. Maybe, I'll join in the fun with some of my PSXETREME brethren from here online.

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Beamboom
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 @ 2:02:29 AM
Reply

So they did it. Gearbox actually did it!
They seem to have unleashed *all* the potential us fans saw in the first game. This is such a great day. I'm so happy, the Borderlands franchise truly deserved this.

I'm also happy the loot system remained like it is. This game is meant to be played by *friends*. And friends help each other. Plus, typically the different players were looking for different weapon types anyways, so at least in my experience the loot sharing worked perfectly fine by being handled by us.

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AshT
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 @ 2:23:54 AM
Reply

Great review, i'll be picking up this one soon.

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dillonthebunny
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 @ 4:38:02 AM
Reply

Ben, as someone who played alone... would you say that this sequel is a little fairer than the first game? i played the first game by myself, and at times i felt almost like i was at a very unfair disadvantage when things would heat up. have they addressed this with borderlands 2 with a little balancing?

it was almost like at times the game was saying that you shouldn't even try to play it single player.. lol

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xenris
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 @ 9:30:36 AM

I apologize for answering for Ben but I'm here so why not :P.

Ben most likely has played more than me, I have played the beginning hour or so twice with different sets of friends lol, plus played it solo. I noticed it gets reaaally tough with more people if your all not focusing and helping each other out. When I soloed though, I didn't get downed once, when I was with 2 other friends I got downed about 4 times.

I think you should be okay, but if Ben played more of the game solo he will definitely have a better answer for you.

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CrusaderForever
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 @ 10:19:07 AM

If I were you and thought Borderlands was unbalanced, I would play with the Soldier! Nothing beats that turret. It's a nice friend to have a long for the ride. Not to mention the Soldier in B2 looks even better!

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 @ 11:14:07 AM

Xenris is right, for the most part. But as times goes on, things tend to balance out; it's almost equally challenging solo or multiplayer. However, I will say that in co-op, everyone definitely has to work together or you're gonna be screwed.

The first Borderlands did feel like you were at a disadvantage a lot of the time. And while I do feel that to some extent in the sequel, it's far less and more erratic. There are just a few times when I go, "Sh**, can't go over THERE just yet." ;)

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___________
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 @ 6:55:50 AM
Reply

so happy to see this being such a big sleeper hit!
i was not expecting much from it, but its looking like its expanded and perfected everything the original stood for!
EVERYTHING a sequel should be!
and FINALLY a sequel that IS a SEQUEL, not a new IP!
i think im going to faint......

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Bio
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 @ 4:33:14 PM

I don't know if I'd call this a sleeper hit. The first game sold 4.5 million worldwide, and I haven't seen anyone on my Steam friends list playing anything BUT Borderlands 2 since it came out.

Definitely agree that it's everything a sequel should be, since they eliminated most of the (very minor) issues in the first game and then just turned all the good stuff up to 11. It's also a lot more challenging than the first game, which I like.

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LowKey
Thursday, September 20, 2012 @ 8:25:19 AM

Woah, mark this one on the calendar peeps. Line approves of something. lol

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Bio
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 @ 4:30:27 PM
Reply

This game is so good. So very very good.

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wolfsinner
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 @ 4:52:58 PM
Reply

After a semester-long stay at CMU, completely private of video games, it's good to be back to gaming, and what better game than this to kill my gigantic itch? :)
I will surely be picking this up tomorrow.

Great review, Ben.

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Ignitus
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 @ 5:57:28 PM

Welcome back.

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berserk
Friday, September 21, 2012 @ 8:52:31 AM
Reply

Great review , one part of the game i love is enemies weak spot .This force you to think a little when fighting foes instead of just going in gun blazing .

Mini *** spoilers *** on enemies below


For example ...

- 1 tall guy that you can shoot in the leg so that he fall to the floor allowing you to either escape/fall back a little or use that opportunity to shoot him some more
.

- A bandit shooting from behind a huge shield with midget/s on it ( yes you heard right ) You can shoot on the 3 rope that keep him there so he can escape and turn on his captor .

- There is also some bandit with flamethrower that you can shoot his gas tank so he explode or some insects with a soft spot in their back .

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