Borderlands 2

The year 2009 saw the release of Gearbox Software’s Borderlands, which received plentiful critical acclaim for its hybrid first-person shooter/RPG gameplay, ultimately leading towards a Game of the Year Edition. Three years later came the game’s first sequel, Borderlands 2, which itself would receive a GOTY version, alongside a port two years afterward to the PlayStation Vita, which provides an experience on par with its predecessor.

The action-based first-person shooter/RPG gameplay of the first Borderlands sequel largely resembles that of its predecessor, with the player able to wield a variety of weapons that consume different types of ammunition, the player able to restock their supply at vending machines if they have the money, and able to equip a shield that takes damage until it runs out of energy and the player’s character’s health receives damage instead. Fortunately, if the player’s character runs out of health, they have the opportunity for a few seconds to score a kill, in which case the player’s character revives with partial health and shield energy.

If the player does die, however, they revive at the last checkpoint at the cost of less than a tenth of their current money, a generous price to pay for death compared to other RPGs such as the Dragon Quest games that take half the player’s money and plenty of Japanese RPGs that take the player back to the title screen or forces them to sit through all the unskippable company screens over and over, and all enemies they partially damaged before death return to full health. There really isn’t much to complain about aside from the frequency of death and the toughness of endgame bosses, but otherwise, the gameplay helps the sequel more than hurts.

Also helping the game more than hurting is the sequel’s control scheme, which is easy to get a handle of, with mission objectives always being clear and the menu system being hardly problematic aside from the limited inventory space (although players can increase this capacity by expanding Eridium at the black market in Sanctuary, and they can also use this material to increase ammo capacity), long loading times (including a sizeable intervention necessary to get into the game itself), and no in-game clock. Ultimately, the sequel interfaces well with the player.

The writing in Borderlands 2 is generally solid, the player controlling one of four Vault Hunters on the planet Pandora, the original game’s setting, alongside the always-clear storyline objectives, in spite of some minor grammatical errors.

As seems to be the case with more western RPGs, the soundtrack leaves something to desire, being barely noticeable throughout the game, although the voice acting and sound effects are above average for the genre.

Borderlands 2 utilizes a cel-shaded visual style like its predecessor that looks pleasant for the most part in spite of some bland textures and dithering of scenery that tends to occur immediately after the player loads their game or revives at a checkpoint.

Finally, the sequel will last players a while, its main storyline taking at least forty hours to complete, although the endless array of sidequests can easily boost playing time beyond that amount. In the end, Borderlands 2 is for the most part a solid sequel that hits most of the right notes with regards to its gameplay, control, story, voicework, and graphics, although there are some elements that leave room for improvement such as the forgettable soundtrack. Even so, those that liked the first game will most likely enjoy the second.

The Good:
+Solid first-person shooter/RPG gameplay.
+Great control.
+Good story and writing.
+Superb voicework.
+Nice visuals.

The Bad:
-Expect to die often.
-Long loading times.
-Forgettable soundtrack.

The Bottom Line:
A great sequel.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Mechanics: 8/10
Controls: 8/10
Story: 9/10
Music/Sound: 7/10
Graphics: 8/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Hard
Playing Time: 40-60 Hours

Overall: 8.5/10

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