Borderlands 2 is probably the least known video game to come out this season. This role playing First-person shooter (FPS) serves as the sequel to the game of the same name from 2010 that moved 4.5 million copies up to now, compared to Call of Duty: Black Ops which sold 5 million in preorders alone. You may ask “why are you reviewing a game that only moved 5 million copies in about 2 months since Black Ops 2 has allegedly sold close to 50 million through preorders alone or Halo 4 which critics are scoring insanely high?” The answer is simple: Borderlands 2 is the better game by far. Now, before you come hunt me down and beat me for money to buy Doritos and Mountain Dew, let me explain why its better and maybe I’ll make you regret buying that big blockbuster title on release day.
Borderlands 2 takes place on the alien world Pandora, but make no mistake, it bears no resemblance to James Cameron’s planet. This planet is a vast wasteland covered in hostile deserts and a town that’s the most wretched hive of scum and villainy I’ve ever seen. Worse yet, the planet is swarmed by thousands of things that want to see you die, from shotgun wielding midgets to what appears to be three legged turtles made of crystals. Everything is drawn in a bright color scheme that makes it look like it was ripped from a comic book. Nothing ever blends into the background and everything looks distinct. It certainly beats the same dirt shades of grey and brown that Call of Duty puts out every year hands down.
The first thing you are going to notice about Borderlands 2 is that its not your every day run-of-the-mill first person shooter. After a brief cutscene introducing you to the sinister and narcissistic Handsome Jack, leader of the Hyperion Corperation and your nemesis for the game, as well as the four heroes of the story, you are asked to choose which one you want to play as. Each has their own strengths and skills that you can boost through leveling up and placing points into skill trees. After a difficult time cycling though an assassin that can become invisible, a woman with mystical powers and a commando with an automated machine gun, I went with the gunzerker, who can dual wield any two weapons in the game, even rocket launchers. I found the amount of options to build my character incredibly deep. Its awesome being able to put points into huge amounts of skills in order to build the class to my specific playstyle and really feeling like I earned them instead of simply playing multiplayer to get better. It actually feels like I accomplish something when I gain a level instead of it just being handed to me.
Another awesome thing about Borderlands 2 is the tone of the story. It’s a game with a warped sense of humor that shows in everything it does. The first character you interact with after choosing a character is a robot named Claptrap who is the size of a shoebox and laments the fact that he’s the last of his product line and wishes he could stop wondering things out loud. Upon meeting you he declares you his minion to destroy Handsome Jack and gain revenge for his robotic compatriots. You also end up meeting, in no particular order, a gentlemany scholar of the various animals on the planet who demands you kill the monster that took his arm, a stereotypical Russian arms dealer and a twelve year old girl who holds the most disturbing tea party I’ve ever seen.
The variety this game has carries over to the weapons you can find. Borderlands 2 carries on the spirit of games like Diablo, in which you can find incredibly lethal tools from even the lowliest of bandits. At one point, I found a machine gun that fired miniature rockets, a sniper rifle that coated my targets in acid and a shield that, once depleted, sent fiery shockwaves through any robots foolish enough to cross my path. Half of those I found by just roaming around, with even better things availiable by completing the myriad of story and side quests that you can tackle. I’ve done everything from discovering the origins of cities to starting a clan war between Irishmen and rednecks. It took me about 20 or so hours to beat the game, not including a handful of side quests I didn’t tackle.
Overall, Borderlands 2 proved to be one of my favorite games this year. With a long and detailed story, a campaign actually worth playing, engaging gameplay and environments as well as more guns than you can shake even the largest of sticks at, you definitely get the best deal for shooters this fall. I know I’m much happier playing something that embraces how weird and interesting it is compared to something that’s just more of the same with a new title.
By John Burgermeister