HST Reviews…Borderlands 2

Lauren: In the land of the borders there lives a storyteller, speaking the truth of the happenings that went on a some years ago involving violent treasure hunters and a large container of hopes and dreams: “The vault was just a container of tentacles and disappointment.” With this self-awareness of what came before, we set off on a sequel with four new playable characters, so who did you choose?

Alan: Well just like in Borderlands, I decided to go for the guy with the turret. This time around, instead of being the main support player, the soldier role is a really overpowered offensive force – almost like they moved Mordecai’s Bloodhawk and infused it into Roland’s standard turret from the first game. It also helps when you can assess the skill points you earn from leveling up into the turret – like adding rockets, or a sheild, or making it go off like a nuke when you put it out there. So what about you? Who did you pick in your return trip back to Pandora?

Lauren: BLOODWING NO!!! God I miss that bird. Obviously I played as Mordecai in game one (I played it the week before the second for the first time so I have yet to explore the other characters), so I thought why not come back as the assassin? I tend to love playing as the distance player, taking people out before they even know what’s coming, and Bloodwing really made that character enjoyable even when he had some really stupid commentary on repeat. That and Zero just looked so cool.

But then I played as him. “Maybe I just haven’t leveled him up enough to get to those BA qualities I’ve heard so much about,” I thought to myself many a time throughout the 20 something hours I played behind his mask. I waited, and I waited, but that day never came. Because Zero is the worst character ever.

Let me break it down. As the assassin, he sure thinks mighty high of himself, often attempting the menacing commentary with such gems as: “critical killing is an art unto itself, and I am Rembrandt.” Oh really? Because two seconds later I am using your “ghosting” power of disappearing to run away because the going got tough (and I can no longer hoard health packs like a hypochondriac). Run away, Zero, just keep going.

Alan: You know, I tried him out in a group of four (one person for each character), and I felt like the weakest link in the group. Sure, I could be invisible and travel to behind my teammates to heal them (even though I had to get out of the invisible form to do so), but overall he was just a bother to play as.

I have also played as the Gunzerker class, and I had a fun time with him. Grabbing two weapons and going to town on countless bandits, bullymongs, skags, and rakks is incredibly fun. Although it is really annoying being that BA and being THAT SHORT. Seriously…he’s the shortest playable character in the game. Even Brick from the first game had some height and some meatiness to his model that it felt like you were controlling a big brute. Not so much with the Gunzerker class. I have yet to play as the Siren class yet, but I’m only hearing good things.

Lauren: Yeah, I really can’t wait to play as another character and I know I will be using that turret to bring utter WWII ending destruction to my enemies. They have a lot of pain to reap now that I will finally be using a character that makes me feel like I have an advantage in the fight against all of the obnoxious creatures that come to do battle. Like those wormhole threshers that latch on until the bitter end, only giving me the chance to crawl away during my fight for a second wind (that more often than not was spent reloading my gun). I will kill all of them so bad they don’t even know what’s coming!

Yet even with Zero and his inability to be awesome constantly leading to angry Lauren time, there is a lot to be said about the game considering I am still excited to come back to it. Like the areas of Pandora that were explored in game one, we return to a world full of the most colorful characters, both good and bad. Tiny Tina and Ellie were the highlights in the added characters this time around, like Tannis from game one (who is still awkwardly trying to socialize with us in this game as well), and Claptrap vs. Angel always results in a good time, but enemy wise I will always love coming up against the fleshies. And that wasn’t because of how obnoxious the robots were since I couldn’t light them on fire, or how depressing it was every time I had to kill a pup skag because it wouldn’t stop crawling towards my meaty goodness, it was because they always had the best last lines. My personal favorite? “Pluto isn’t a planet,” though I also appreciated how they would often beg that I don’t take their stuff. So rude; it was perfect.

Alan: Tiny Tina is the ish. I would love to play as her if a Borderlands 3 were to come out – just with her out there child-like sensibilities still in tact. And I have to agree with you on the enemies; as I keep dying and dying and dying by their hands, I am always willing to come back ten folds and murder everyone. ESPECIALLY the new enemies like the varkids. When you play on playthrough 2 of the game, those enemies – like all of the enemies – get incredibly harder to fight off.

Speaking of dying, you will die a lot in this game [Lauren: DARNIT ZERO!]. No joke, the difficulty factor in this game compared to the original is on a different level entirely. In the original, once I peaked my character stats, it was just a walk in the park. Now, I have to be on the offensive at all time, or else a group of midgets will ambush me and steal all of the money I have worked so hard to obtain.

And all of this, all of the shooting, stealing, looting, and overall reason of being on Pandora for the second time is because of the awful, terrible, despicable…hilarious asshole known as Handsome Jack. He really is the catalyst to the entire story overhaul that this game franchise needed in the campaign department. Jack can come in and make you laugh out loud, but can turn a switch on and be incredibly disturbing and almost venomous in his delivery. Pretty much, he is one of the best antagonists in the past couple years in gaming – maybe in this current generation of game consoles.

Lauren: Yeah he was definitely maniacal, that’s for sure, especially considering that tone-setting opening cutscene that shows just how dirty Jack is willing to play. The first game reminded me a lot of the first Gears of War game in many ways because it was just simply: here is your end mission, now get there. Borderlands didn’t really feel any denser than that story-wise, and like Alan says, Borderlands 2 definitely makes up for that by furthering a story that we thought was already complete in a “You thought this happened? Well let me tell you what really happened.”

The problem was that the story wasn’t always presented in the best way, partly game fault, partly my own. How am I supposed to know that when I see the shiny Echo recorder calling my name, all alone out in the desolate desert that the person already talking in my ear is not going to graciously wait to finish their conversation with my ear while I listen to my new shiny toy. I cannot ignore shiny things! And I paid the price by missing out on some exposition. I will accept the blame here for obvious reasons, but this did happen on more than one occasion in which I didn’t intentionally trigger a second Echo convo that interrupted the first, and God forbid you were in combat when someone was trying to talk to you. Speak up!

Or maybe I was just too engulfed in what I was doing to give my undivided attention to the speaker, but that isn’t my fault. There are just so many baddies to kill, or dolla-dolla bills lying around in countless unlocked crates to find that I would often find myself lost in what I was doing and not really paying attention as to the why. Even if Zero sucked at life more often than I would like, Borderlands 2 still presented loads of fun to be had, with some decent upgrades to get the job done. Useful upgrade: The ability to crawl around as the seconds to death count down. More useful upgrade: Badass Points to share the victories with your collection of heroes. Why did you give me this? upgrade: The safe that is currently sitting empty at the safe house that was made available to stash all the goodies I just couldn’t part with (hint about Lauren: she likes the money!).

Alan: I loved the Badass points – even if the changes they put out felt rather minimal. And the safe is a nice thing once you get guns or items you can’t really use (like that useless personal ECHO that is sitting in your original inventory). I didn’t necessarily enjoy the usage of Eridium, which becomes pretty useless once you get everything from the Black Market. Also, I wish I could fly, just like the Buzzards that get to fly around the world and shoot you. And I wish I had a little more space in my inventory like the original had. But overall I thought that this was such an exceptional sequel to a now established franchise. The action was there, the loot was there, the wub-wub was there, and the exceptional story was there. This is one franchise that I will be sticking around until the very end for – and who knows when that will be.

Alan’s Grade: A
Lauren’s Grade: B (Will most likely improve once I play as someone else)

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