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Review: 'Borderlands 2' is a laugh-out-loud blast
"I cannot get enough of this game and highly recommend calling three of your friends to take a joy ride into this wild, wild space western." - Warp Pipe
Treasure hunters and pyromaniacs alike found Gearbox and 2K Games' role-playing shooter 'Borderlands' to be a great blend of action and XP driven gameplay. But the game did lack where open world games thrived on storytelling.
'Borderlands 2' corrects this in a big way, but not even some of Hollywood's best comedic writers could have written a more laugh-out-loud explosion fest.
The comedy alone is worth the price of admission from myself and fellow Vault Hunters across the globe playing the game. The space western takes place five years since the events of its predecessor. The four Vault Hunters from the last game aid you on your quest to prevent an even larger vault from falling into the wrong hands. One of four different classes of characters are available to choose from, each can be customized by a small range of colors and face models with plenty more hidden across the vast open world of Pandora.
Recently, a fifth character (the Mechromancer) was made available for free as DLC for those who pre-ordered the game. If you missed out on the deal, she can also be purchased. This is one of those games that does come with a Season Pass buy option, and I highly recommend it because once you set foot into Pandora you will be there for a while and the side quests and added adventures are hidden gems in the game.
Many games have offered side quests as mere distractions for gamers to prolong their sessions only to delay an endgame. Not so much here on Pandora. Nearly every side quest I wanted to fulfill for the loot that was to be had and the hilarity that followed. References to 'Top Gun', 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' and even 'The Lion King' are heavily sought after Easter eggs that will have you calling your friends to point out what they are missing playing anything else right now.
YouTube has a growing list of videos highlighting just how much content Gearbox added to the bolstered plot and character development. One of my favorite side missions is entitled, "Shoot This Guy in the Face." The objective is just that as a ranting lunatic begs you to fire one right in his kisser. Once the task is completed, collect your reward and have a good chuckle at your accomplishment.
The sequel to the shoot and loot, FPS Role Playing Game offers endless hours of fun and just about equally as many weapons to match that. The game promotes "87 bazillion guns" available and it sure does feel like there are that many boom sticks hidden around Pandora. Each weapon has a name, and I could only imagine what it was like for the creative team to pen every one of them, as well as unique abilities and/or bonuses. My only complaint is that even with an upgradable bank to store my favorite gear (all of which had added one-liners in their description) there is just not enough space to save each of them. Sad face...
If I came across an iron clad enemy Loader, corrosive damage firing weapons made the baddie go away far quicker than my talking shotgun…yes, my shotgun talks. And why wouldn't it? On Pandora, Gearbox reminds us never to take things too seriously when it comes to firefights and explosions.
The dialogue in 'Borderlands 2' is some of the best, if not the funniest ever produced in a video game. The only shame is that some of lines get washed out when battles become overwhelming. 'Borderlands 2' voice actors may have had to declare residence in the audio booth because of the amount of banter I would receive from the cast leads all the way to the bandits that were on the receiving end of my sniper rifle. No character stood out more though than the game's antagonist…Handsome Jack.
Jack is to put it simply…an "A-Hole". The game doesn't even start yet and already he attempts to make your trip to Pandora short and full of running gags at your expense. He is a blend of villain whose prime ingredients, in my opinion, are one part Bill Murray's character in 'Kingpin' and another part Joker from 'Batman'. Jack wants you to fail miserably, but his ego is larger than his own thirst for power. He even bought a living horse made out of diamonds in which he decided to name after me…proclaiming her 'Butt Stallion'.
The cel-shaded graphics have a charm to them, painting the beauty of the game's on-screen chaos with added detail and more personality than the first 'Borderlands'. The soundtrack provides a steady mix of Spaghetti Western sounding tracks that change depending on the action. I wasn't humming any tracks between gaming sessions but they did provide the right tone to the game, especially in desert towns full of the bad and the ugly.
Getting around this massive world would turn away newcomers to 'Borderlands 2' but Gearbox really did a great job minimizing each location enough to make it feel like an epic journey, but with quick travel available to reach longer distances. "Catch-A-Ride" destinations allow gamers to drive acquired vehicles across Pandora, armed with cannons and explosives. The driving controls will frustrate those familiar with racing games but luckily being a pro behind the wheel isn't necessary during objectives.
What sets 'Borderlands' apart even more-so is its co-op modes. Play locally or online with up to a group of four players and continue racking up the XP points and even more loot. Rare weapons are a prize sought-after item in larger groups and the addition enemies can make for some intense shootouts. I only recommend creating a second character early on if you are like me and want to take in every moment in 'Borderlands 2' possible. Taking a character online will toss you into different areas and timelines within the story so don't miss out on plot points because members of your party want to tread elsewhere.
'Borderlands 2' is a "game-of-the-year" candidate that excels beyond the first trip to the mysterious planet Pandora. Its hazardous wastelands rolled out an action packed butt-kicking for me and I found myself laughing at each lashing it gave me. I cannot get enough of this game and highly recommend calling three of your friends to take a joy ride into this wild, wild space western. Just do me a favor and save me a slice of pizza when returning from the "Rat Cave" after finishing the "Splinter Group" mission.