Guns, Guns, and a Plasma Sword: A Recipe for Awesome

A Review On: Borderlands 2 PC Game 2K Games

Borderlands 2 PC Game 2K Games

Rated # 6 in PC Games
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Pros: Detailed Graphics, Varied Gameplay, Replayable, Improved PC Elements, Lots of Guns

Cons: Inappropriate Lag, Confusing changes from the first game

The return to Pandora has fulfilled the hope of the fans. Borderlands 2 is a fun and exciting installment to the franchise, as well as being an excellent FPS in its own right. In this review, I will primarily give first impressions for people trying to decide if it is worthwhile. I've played roughly 9 hours so far, spread across three characters (Axton, Salvador, and Zero) all of which have their Action Skill. As of now, I intend to revisit this review after I play through the initial story.

The general mechanics of the previous game have stayed the same. The game has a heart of an FPS while wearing the garb of an RPG. The game play is the standard shoot and fight, much like every other FPS. Like every other FPS, standard gunfight tactics are given purpose by a story (a good one so far). The RPG elements add a variety that is lacking in most other FPS. Specifically, the collection of experience to unlock new skills and the ever changing inventory and weapon improvement add a new dimension to the otherwise familiar game design. There is little substantial difference to the general approach between Borderlands and Borderlands 2. Both have the same inventory slots, the same three-branching skill trees and the same randomly generated equipment. The new menu system is a nice touch. It is a little easier to use than the old one and it has some nice features that were absent previously. For example, it is far easier to recognize what items are equipped and to distinguish between guns in the inventory. I haven't noticed anything significantly different between the last incarnation's multiplayer and this one.

The Characters seem well balanced and more varied than last time. While the general idea of skill specialization continues from the first, the new trees are more focused and will lead the players toward particular play-styles. In comparing Axton in Borderlands 2 to Roland from Borderlands, I noticed that Roland’s skills had a focus, but easily could adopt a different play-style for the situation. Axton, on the other hand, feels like he is going to be very efficient at a particular play-style, but not as easy to "switch hit" for various contexts. That said, Axton has a lot more 'tricks' than Roland did as well as having the skills be a little bit better than Roland's corresponding skills. The other I noticed about the characters is how the class mechanics are sorted. While it seems like all the old archetypes from the old are in the new, they have different approaches that drastically change how they are played. Axton is, as suggested, as re-imagining of Roland, their roles are similar. The other three classes have a different approach however. It appears Zero has the old Phasewalk ability (although altered) and the melee focus of Brick. This makes Maya and Salvador of Borderlands 2 play differently from Lilith and Brick of Borderlands. Their abilities are similar in spirit, but not in play-style. Salvador has an extreme gun focus (as is appropriate for Gunzerkers), that keeps him further back and less exposed than Brick was. I haven't played Maya yet, but I have a feeling that something similar will happen with her. I point this out as my girlfriend finds Zero's mechanic very difficult to use compared to Mordecai from Borderlands, even though they both have the assassin/sniper archetype. Don't just assume that the same character aesthetics will result in the same play-style.

Graphically, the game is even more beautiful than before. I've been to two locales, and already I noticed that they spent more time on the aesthetics of the environment than last time. The icy tundra environment and the dusty badlands are uniform and enticing at the same time. Landscape variation and objects create a more interesting area than they had in Borderlands. The environments are detailed, artistically arranged and stunning. I understand the story enters jungles at certain points and I am really looking forward to that. The detail of the characters, friend and enemy, are highly detailed. Every time I look through my scope or turn in a mission I notice new details. It has significantly higher detail than Borderlands and it makes for a much more immersive experience. The bold outlines are brought back to maintain that Borderlands style, but there are more subtle details added to make things new and interesting. I like comparing old items to the newly skinned/meshed ones and the improvements are noted.

I have few complaints, but these are noticeable enough to warrant 4.5 rather than 5 flames and so I'll mention them. The one that I notice the most is how resource heavy this game is. My computer isn't top of the line, but it runs Skyrim on full with no hitches. However, in certain firefight my frames-per-second dropped tremendously. While in single player, I don't care, but in multiplayer this causes problems as enemies don't slow down. Of course, these slow points where heavy in the particle effects, usually when someone is on fire, explosions are going off and electricity is arcing from enemy to enemy; so it doesn't happen often, but it happens. The other intensive resource intensive part is when in the menu; this really bugs me. I notice cursor lag and menu switching lag while in the menu system, particularly the equipment/inventory page. The gameplay lag is forgivable given when it happens, the menu lag is obnoxious and hopefully can be cleaned up with a patch.

Overall, Borderland 2 is a great game. I highly recommend it to both people familiar with the franchise as well as people who are looking for something new. The design and feel of the game are well thought and implemented. Borderlands 2 should provide an enjoyable experience to everyone who plays it.

1 Comment:

Salvador is so fun to play with. the Gunzerker skill is extremely helpful. I love the game, Gearbox did not mess around at all with the mechanics and the concept..they just added better animations, much better graphics and gameplay. More of the same, just a lot more epic.