Review: Borderlands 2 - PS3 and Xbox 360 versions tested
This could be a real contender for game of the year. Ever enjoyed Fallout New Vegas, but wished for better graphics and a lighter atmosphere? Enjoyed Rage but wished for more content and even better gameplay? Enjoyed the shooting action and filthy, awesome humour of Duke Nukem Forever but wished for the game to be actually… er, good? Loved the pulp sci-fi setting of Bulletstorm? Well, my friend, Borderlands 2 might be for you.
How to describe it? It’s a cel-shaded, first person shooter, role-playing game that is both single player and drop in/drop out co-op for up to four people. It has a dark, wonderful sense of humour that runs right through the game, frequently mocking itself and you, the player.
It has a vast landscape full of countless missions that can be played in any order the player wishes, or in story order. There are vast deserts, snowy wastes, teeming townships, vehicles and guns. Lots and lots of guns. There are an untold number of rifles, pistols, SMG’s, grenades etc to choose from – they can be found, looted, bought and sold. My bro-in-law is currently using an assault rifle that moans and bitches at him when he fires and reloads – it’s hilarious to listen to.
There’s a story – it doesn’t take itself too seriously. On the post-apocalyptic looking planet of Pandora, various mercenaries and treasure seekers known as Vault Hunters arrive to try and search for loot – hidden in vast underground, er, vaults. A rogue character called Handsome Jack of the Hyperion Corporation hires and then double-crosses and kills Vault Hunters after they arrive.
Our tale is about a group of four such intrepid anti-heroes, all very different characters. There is a Commando – a regular grunt with a mean deployable turret, a Siren – a lean fighting machine with psycho kinetic powers, a Gunzerker – a mountain of muscle who’s the only character that can wield two guns at once and Zero – a sort of cyborg Stig/assassin thing…
So pick a class and start your first playthrough. The game opens with a great title sequence and absolutely the best music I’ve heard used in a video game – I want the soundtrack. After a bit of opening credit exposition, you find yourself dumped and unconscious in some snowy wasteland.
Digging away next to you is our old friend Claptrap the robot, from Borderlands 1. He’s a character – annoying and funny, deliberately so. He leads you from his little settlement to the nearest town and the adventure begins…
I got about this far and then my brother-in-law (Dan – known to you regular readers) came online. I invited him into my game and we started to take on the frozen wastes together. When playing co-op, the game multiplies the toughness of your enemies, but also provides more loot to find. We completed some missions together and Dan dropped out of the game – it seamlessly continued my progress.
I came back to the game that evening and was able to get Dan, my other bro-in-law and a friend in, so we had a full squad of four players playing the game co-operatively. They had gotten a bit further ahead and shared some loot, some better guns etc to help get me up to speed and we had a riot completing quests and slaughtering legions of mutants and evil-doers.
And then I was hooked. Games such as Fallout New Vegas and other accessible RPGs are the ones that get the most hours out of me – I can see myself spending well over the 148 hours I logged on New Vegas. There’s so much to do, the missions are so compelling, the graphics are so distinctive and beautiful – better looking than the best anime movies… And the sense of humour is filthy and hilarious – it’s exactly what I like in a game!
The different characters encourage multiple and parallel playthroughs and the game positively invites you to try co-op play, either with your friends or with the online matchmaking built into the game. It makes the whole experience more rich, to take down wave after wave of enemies together and split the loot…
There is more DLC coming too – a new character class was released last night, the Mechromancer. Will definitely play through the game again with this character and wait for the four new campaigns that are yet to be released.
Criticisms? I’m really having trouble coming up with any. I personally found it easier to play with the Xbox 360 pad that with the PS3 pad – but that’s surely down to my own preference. There’s no real difference I can tell between the graphics in the two versions, I just found the lighter sticks on the PS3 made twitch aiming that bit more difficult. So I picked up another copy on Xbox and started it up… That’s how much I like this game.
Halo 4 has a lot to live up to, because if it doesn’t deliver fully – this will surely be game of the year.
Borderlands 2 is out now for Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC