Borderlands 2: Impressions

Posted October 5, 2012 by Jay Krieger in Editorial
BL2 2
You shoot stuff. Stuff dies. Pick up dead stuff’s weapons. Go shoot more stuff till it dies.

It only takes about twenty minutes of playing Borderlands 2 to know how the rest of the game is going to play, and normally that would be a terrible thing. Gamers should already have a general idea of what to expect from Borderlands 2, but for those who didn’t play, the excellent albeit flawed, original Borderlands, you shoot stuff. Allot of Stuff to be exact.

Handsome Jack

A new game, brings a new threat to the planet of Pandora and this time the games antagonist is that of Handsome Jack, the new leader of the Hyperion corporation. And well, that’s bad news for the planet Pandora, as Hyperion has begun drilling the planet in an attempt to reach the famed vault of the first game. And it’s up to you to put a stop to Hyperion and read the rewards of the vault yourself.

Borderlands 2 is a first person shooter that is heavily influenced by role playing game mechanics, and as such, it is a heavily stat based game. This means you’ll be calculating velocity of bullets, the probability of hitting faraway targets, and figuring out the percentage of taxes you owe from money you receive from completing quests….I kid, I kid. What it actually means, is that, every weapon you pick up has a roster of stats and a large portion of players time is spent analyzing weapons you discover out in the vast areas of the Planet Pandora. For those unfamiliar, Borderlands is very formulaic in what you’ll actually be doing in game as it boils down to, “receive quest, travel a predetermined distance, kill X number of things or find X number of items, kill enemies, return and receive reward.” Pretty rinse and repeat stuff, but, it’s how you will be fighting enemies, the games humorous elements (dialogue and characters) and the game boasting a “just 20 more minutes” mentality.



Editor’s Note: To clarify, “Just 20 more minutes” mentality is a term I use for games, such as Borderlands, that enthrall the player into the universe of the game in a number of ways. In Borderlands 2 it’s the astronomical amount of new loot or equipment that you’ll discover. This keeps players engaged and even after discovering a new piece of equipment, which renders previous gear obsolete, the next new item could be just a few steps away.

If you’re looking for some drastic change to gameplay from the previous game, don’t be surprised when  you realize the games core fundamentals have not changed. Players will still be stat crunching and trying to find the most versatile equipment possible and your time spent in Pandora mostly consists of completing fetch quests and assassination missions. And you know what; I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Usually I’d criticize a game for being overly formulaic , as most games that are repetitive in nature usually don’t compel the player to continue playing, Borderlands differentiates itself by making combat engaging and more tactical , while providing hilarious dialogue during and in-between combat. Let’s start with the enemies you encounter. Pandora is a dangerous place. It’s filled with bandits, mutants, robots, psychotic midgets, bugs (rather, large bugs), and even yeti like creatures. A strategy that worked consistently in Borderlands 1, was, standing still and shooting at an enemy until it died. Yeah, this won’t get you very far in Borderlands 2. Enemies are smarter this time around, if only so slightly. Enemies will roll out of harm’s way, take cover and regroup when becoming overwhelmed. This is pretty standard AI mechanics but they seemed to be missing in the original game. You have to be mindful of enemies’ resistances (to such elements as fire, acid, electricity, etc) and more selective in what types of guns you’ll use to dispatch them with.

Shoot. Shoot. And Shoot some more.

The first game include a plethora of guns that ranged from standard machine guns to corrosive machine guns, rockets that shoot five rockets simultaneously whilst engulfed in flames and even a midget launcher! Seriously, it shoots midgets. Okay, that last one was a lie, but you get the idea. Borderlands 2 features a staggering (unconfirmed) 87 bazillion guns. While the number of those included has increased, the ranging abilities and different attributes they boast has also increased. There are also more grenade and shield mods, though, I would have liked to see the inclusion of improved melee weapons. While Borderlands is primarily a shooting game, as in, that’s the only thing you do kind of way, it would have been nice to give more incentive to utilize melee combat a bit more.

I was somewhat hesitant when deciding what character to select as I primarily play the game alone, which I’ve been told makes single player much more difficult. Though I’m finding my automated machine gun turret touting Commando is an ideal class to play in single player, as when fire fights aren’t going my way I simply, “toss out the little lady.” Running into a mixed group of enemies, some human, some robot, and having to switch between, my fire spewing machine gun to ignite bandit flesh and my corrosive quadruple shot shotgun to chew through Hyperion robot armor, make combat fast and frantic. Combat is more enjoyable, more challenging and after larger encounters, I feel like I’ve really accomplished something whereas in the first game I would chew through enemies with little difficulty.

So far, my roughly 15 hours with the game, has been quite enjoyable. Some may find Borderlands 2 a little too familiar to the original, but that’s what I’m finding enjoyable. It’s a fun, slightly less mindless shooter that builds upon every fault I had with the first one. Borderlands 1 laid the ground work for a great concept but one that didn’t have a whole lot of substance to it. Borderlands 2 builds upon the first in almost every way possible and provides an enjoyable , albeit familiar, shooter that is fun in single player and a hell of a good time in multiplayer.

About the Author

Jay Krieger

Student by day ,freelance writer by night, I go where the games go.

    Mark Craven
    October 7, 2012 at 10:39 pm

    I’m starting to enjoy Borderlands 2. Its more evolution than revolution. After playing 100+ hours of Borderlands I wasn’t really after more of the same.

    But to echo Paul. Its still a good game.


    Paul Walker
    October 7, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    I too am enjoying it. Although I am starting to find it a bit of a chore at times; going back to previously visited areas time and time again to complete fetch quests is getting tiresome. Still a good game though.