Review

Borderlands 2 (Xbox360)

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Borderlands 2 is one of the most wildly fun, hilariously imaginative and frighteningly addictive adventures I’ve ever been on. Pandora is a creatively crafted world, filled with colourful characters, distinctive environments, unforgettable enemies… and lots and lots of guns!

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The story carries on from the original Borderlands game, as players set out on a quest to find ‘The Vault’ while fighting off the creatures and critters that inhabit this alien world, as well as the advances of the villainous Handsome Jack and his minions. You’ll be able to team up with three friends in co-operative play as one of four unique character classes, each with their own exclusive strengths: Maya the Siren whose phaselock and healing abilities can be very useful in battle; Salvador the Gunzerker whose rage and duel wielding modes make him a formidable enemy; Axton the Commando who can provide extra support with his turret; or Zero the Assassin who is a skilled sniper and knife wielder.

Becoming a Badass

Not only will you be able to choose a class based on your gameplay style, but you’ll be able to upgrade your character to suit your style of play. It’s a deep skill tree customisation system, but one that works seamlessly, even if you’re not that experienced with RPG titles. As you complete missions and defeat enemies you’ll earn experience points, your character will level up and you’ll be awarded skill points, which you can allocate to strengthen skills specific to your class. You’ll also receive Badass Points which you can then redeem to improve any number of stats. Whether you choose to increase your gun’s accuracy or fire rate or focus on improving your shield capacity or maximum health, it offers something extra over and above the regular skill progression.

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As you travel through the different lands, you’ll progress through the main storyline quest and also collect a massive number of secondary missions that you can discover by interacting with the characters scattered throughout the world. Travelling around Pandora is an adventure, whether you’re on foot or in a vehicle. Wandering around on foot isn’t a bad thing because there’s so much loot around to be ‘looted.’ The world is so incredibly detailed I found myself spending time in areas just looking around long after I’ve dealt with the rather rude welcoming parties…very few people seem to like us Vault Hunters.

When you need to cover large distances there are generally vehicle spawn points close by. In Borderlands 2 the vehicles I’ve used have been a perfect balance of arcade race controls with just the right amount of armour and weaponry. If you look after them you can take down many opponents, run over some skags and do a sightseeing tour of Pandora without having to constantly respawn another vehicle. Drifting around, ramping and tearing up the landscape against the backdrop of the lunar base is tons of fun.

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Once you have visited an area and concluded negotiations with your guns, the fast travel option becomes available. Using these terminals it’s very easy to cover the large distance of Pandora and this really helps to keep the story moving if you don’t feel in the mood for exploring or side-quests. Similar to your mini-map, which shows you the direction of your current objective, the fast-travel menu shows you where to travel. As you progress in Borderlands 2 this really helps when you’re scratching your head to think of where you need to return to ‘Turn-In’ a mission.

Gazillions of guns

It’s Borderlands and this means gazillions of gun choices. There is such an array of weaponry that it is at times overwhelming and your backpack is just never big enough. You have four weapon slots to start with, and then as you level up you can unlock the additional two slots. These are your active weapons that you can cycle through using the Y button on the Xbox 360 controller or switch to directly using the D-pad. Starting off you get plenty of use out of the trusty pistol which soon is complemented by shotguns, sniper rifles, machine guns and rocket launchers. Every weapon has different combinations of damage, reload rate and accuracy to name but a few of the weapon characteristics.

On top of this weapons can also deal explosive, corrosive and electrical damage, which is good considering you often need a mix of weapons to turn the tide in battle. In Borderlands 2 it really is a case of the right weapon for the job so try to keep a variety available. Not only is this variety important so you can use the right type of weapon against the varied enemies, but also from an ammo perspective. You can only carry a limited amount of ammo for each weapon type, so if all of your weapons are rifles then you are going to run out of ammo quickly.

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87 bazillion guns are not the only loot you can find on Pandora, loot chests will also contain shields, money, grenades, health and different mods. Since all of this loot is randomly generated it’s a case of leave no chest unopened because you just never know what might be lurking inside – it could be a better gun, a more powerful mod for your class, or even a stronger shield. And of course you’ll need to collect as much money as possible, so that you can buy more loot! You’ll be able to stock up on ammo, health and buy more weapons, shields and mods from the vending machines scattered throughout the world, there will also be a deal of the day that you can indulge in so collect as much money and loot as possible to sell at these machines so that you can become even more of a badass.

If there’s anything that 87 bazillion guns gives you (other than a smile on your face from all the fun you’re having), it’s variety. As Sir Hammerlock says, “things need to be shot and by jove you’re the one to shoot them.” You’ll face different enemies as you explore Pandora, some of them will be skags, some of them will be robots, some of them will even be badass skags and badass robots. I can honestly say that the Borderlands has some of the most outrageous and downright terrifying enemies I have ever faced before, including psychos, midgets and goliaths. I’ll let you discover the others on your own. The variety that begins with the guns, continues into the enemies and so you’ll find yourself having to change your strategy to face the diverse foes, whether they’re native to Pandora, or not.

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The missions are always varied, always entertaining. Whether you’re delivering birthday invites for Klaptrap, rifling through skag poo, surviving waves of enemies in an arena or continuing the serious business of defeating Handsome Jack and saving Pandora, there’s always something to do. With a game world this large it’s important to have variety, not only in the missions, but also in the environments, and 2K Games has delivered on both.

Borderlands 2 delivers more of the awesome that you came to know in Borderlands. If you have played the original then you will love this game, if you didn’t then you will wonder why not. My advice? Pay a visit to Pandora…you’ll be so glad that you did.


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