Borderlands 2, just like the first game, is a first person shooter with RPG elements. However Gearbox went out of their way to really put as much new content into the game as they could. In the first game each of the 4 different characters had only one tree of skills to select. In Borderlands 2 they have 3 trees and instead of four characters there are five. I ended up playing as the Siren again like I did in the first so I will be reviewing from that character’s perspective. The Siren’s main skill, the phaselock (which is the ‘f’ key for all characters) is an ability that holds enemies in the air while you shoot at them. The skills she has vary from improving that main skill (health recharge by killing the phaselocked enemy, longer duration and even after you kill the enemy the phaselock goes to find another one), improves weapon elemental effects and the Siren’s overall health and shield. She also has several abilities that can improve the team you are with if you are playing co-op.
There are so many different kinds of guns it is ridiculous. I wasn’t even able to see maybe 1/1000th of the different weapons that are in this game. Each gun even can have its own special ability e.g. the weapon being thrown as a grenade when the player needs to reload, having a quicker or unique reload function and even guns that will talk. Like most RPGs these weapons come as massive amount of loot that enemies drop that vary in color depending on their rarity. I only reached level 36 by the end of the game so I only had 2 Orange weapons but they were both very good.
The story starts off with the player riding a train somewhere on Pandora in which Handsome Jack rigged to explode. Claptrap finds you and has you follow him to Sanctuary the main rebel city in the game. All this time Angel is trying to get you to stop Jack from force opening the vault in order to get the power from ‘The Warrior’ that is inside. For the most part you are doing various quests that follow the story and you end up meeting and helping out all the original vault hunters from the first game. But other than that the story is pretty straight forward and fairly simple. What really makes the story and side quests special is the dialogue and characters themselves.
Each NPC in the game feels like a legit character that gearbox took a lot of time creating a personality for. Every time claptrap speaks or someone makes fun of him I can’t help but laugh. Even Handsome Jack has a funny personality in a sick twisted sort of way. Without the characters Borderlands 2 would more than likely be a bland fetch quest RPG with no real attachment.
Now Borderlands 2 has its own style of graphics that sets it apart from many other games. It uses a cel shaded (it is spelled that way with one ‘l’) graphics that makes it very colorful and cartoonish feeling. All the different areas feel unique and awesome which is more than the first game can say. In Borderlands 1 the areas were all pretty much the same, dry desert with lots of rocks and caves. In Borderlands 2 that isn’t the case, there are many different settings for the different areas and they all feel different.
On top of that Gearbox did a fine job with the audio. As mentioned before the dialogue is outstanding and the voice acting is very well done. Because there are so many guns in this game they all need their own individual sound and Gearbox delivered on that one. Each different make and model have different sounds for the reloading, the shooting and when you have one of those special guns they even talk. Where the game shines due to the sound effects and voice actors it fails with the music. The music is just there in the background, is extremely quiet and doesn’t seem to ever really change. I was kind of disappointed because they had such a great trailer for the game mentioning 100% more “Wub Wub” but there was no such music in the game.
Overall this game was a great successor to an already great series however it didn’t improve a few things that the first game had problems with as well.
Addition: After playing all of the DLC I can say that there is a lot of content in this game and it is well worth the purchase. Tiny Tina’s DLC is probably the best of the 4 and is also the longest but what comes with the addition of the DLC is five new Raid bosses which require usually more than two people to kill the enemy(ies). The highest loot Raid would be the four Dragons in Tiny Tina’s DLC and if you are just above the levels of the dragons it just about takes all four of yal working together to take them down as they are very difficult to kill. All in all if you are going to get this game I highly suggest getting the GOTY edition. It only comes with one of the upgrade packs so in order to get to level 72 you need to get the second one as well.