Bigger And Better
Borderlands 2 doesn't mess too heavily with the successful formula established by the original back in 2009, delivering another customisation-heavy first-person shooter with the questing structure and customisation options of a role-playing game and a big emphasis on co-operative play.
What it does do is build on the first game in a number of ways that mark it out as a great follow-up. These range from minor things like walking over ammo to pick it up and the ability to trade with co-op partners, to significant ones, like more varied and unpredictable missions, as opposed to the original's series of fetch and carry quests.
The story centres on your rebel faction's race across the planet Pandora to stop villain and self-proclaimed dictator Handsome Jack from opening a vault and awakening an ancient alien evil. However, you'll spend a lot of time getting sidetracked by non-essential side missions and a desire to go hunting for new items, or just getting distracted by packs of wild animals and hideouts full of bandits.
Your journey through Pandora is made all the more enjoyable by the fact that Gearbox has replaced the samey brown colour palette that defined environments in the original with a more varied colour scheme, from the crisp icy blues of an arctic tundra to toxic neon caves and lurid purple mountains which, in combination with the game's striking art style, make Borderlands 2 one of the prettiest titles of 2012.
If you had to sum up Borderlands 2 in one word though it would be 'guns' - bazillions of them, according to the game's promotional material. The title uses a complex procedural generation system to create literally millions of combinations of weapons which you upgrade throughout the game.
There's a dizzying amount of variables (damage, accuracy, magazine size, reload etc.) and specialist parts that alter how items perform, ensuring you're never short of ways to engage the many hostile creatures that inhabit Pandora's unpredictable alien landscapes.
Borderlands 2 is at its best with four friends playing co-operatively, combining crowd control and healing abilities with close and long-range combat specialities to devastating effect. The game's four character classes are designed to work together; among their specialities, Maya the Siren can freeze enemies, Zer0 the Assassin can create clones of himself, Salvador the Gunzerker can dual-wield weapons, and Axton the Commando can deploy turrets that seek out enemies.
Borderlands 2 builds on the template set out by the original to create a bigger, better sequel. The gunplay's great fun, the collection and customisation options are extremely moreish, the art style's gorgeous, and the locations, missions and enemies are more varied than they were in the original. If you liked the first game you're bound to love this, and those new to the series are in for a real treat too.
- Markedly improves on the original.
- Fantastic co-op gameplay.
- It's lovely to look at.
- Not quite as satisfying in single player.
- The story's not exactly riveting.
- More weapon slots would be nice.