Published on January 14th, 2013 | by Andrew
GOTY 2012 — Andrew: Borderlands 2
Surprised by my pick? So was I.
While I’ve always enjoyed a great Halo entry, I do not generally consider myself a fan of shooters. If you listen to the podcast, you know my preferences. Give me an open world, RPG, or action/adventure with some interesting characters, and I’m sold. And yet it was Borderlands 2 that called me back once I played through autumn’s Triple-A’s.
First, I must confess. The first Borderlands, although critically acclaimed, never grabbed me. I wasn’t interested in any of the characters, the story (if you want to call it that) was uninspired and far from compelling, and the alien world of Pandora (at that time) consisted of little more than desert. Granted, I had made the mistake of trying to go it alone, but the seemingly endless loot and stylized aesthetic just wasn’t enough to win me over.
Where the first game fails, however, the second excels. With its larger scope, humorous writing, and greater variety in both its enemies and environments, Borderlands 2 proves that Pandora is worth exploring after all.
Of course, one does not simply walk into
Mordor Pandora. Opposition lies behind every corner, and unlike the first outing, that opposition is given a face from the start. “Handsome Jack” is the villain you love to hate. He’s outrageously pompous, unashamedly self-absorbed, and vehemently power-hungry. And yet, much of the game’s most humorous, quotable writing is spewed from his ceaseless mockery.
The odds seem stacked against you, sure, but (hopefully) you’re not in this alone. The four (now five) playable Vault Hunters are as diverse in play style as they are in appearance. And while their personalities are very much their own, their skills, perks, and abilities remain adaptable to your play style. For the run-and-gunners, the “gun-zerking” Salvador is your man. Me? I appreciate stealth, speed, and finesse. I rolled with Zer0.
Although the original four vault hunters from the original Borderlands are unplayable this time around, they remain integral parts of the sequel’s story. In fact, their transition into the third person is one of the main story’s greatest assets. Witnessing them actually interact with each other, now and for the first time, adds both personality to their characters and deeper, more personal exposition.
Addressing another of the first game’s shortcomings, Borderlands 2 allows players to explore some deliciously diverse locales. Although some of the desert remains in “The Dust,” players will travel from the frigid “Frostburn Canyon” to several urban cities, the lush “Highlands,” and the acidic “Caustic Caverns,” just to name a few.
Of course, the foundational allure of Borderlands is found in the game’s vast array of randomly generated loot, varying in everything from clip size and fire rate to elemental effects and precision. Some are even thrown, exploding upon impact every time the weapon is reloaded. Acid-spewing machine guns? Check. Electric sniper rifles? Check. Some guns may actually speak. Seriously… As in talking. To you. With words.
Drop-in drop-out coop is seamless, which is great, considering the game is best enjoyed with friends. Should you complete a mission after joining another player who is further along in the game, an impressive new feature gives you the option to skip said mission once returning to your game. I hope Bethesda takes note….
Despite some texture pop-in, and rare, random glitches, Borderlands 2 is a perfect balance of frenzied action and depth, offering countless hours of shooting, looting, and leveling, while also sporting a satisfying level of customization and an enjoyable narrative.
“So, you know,” as Jack would say, “That’s cool. Kay, bye.”