I’ve done it; I’ve descended to the depths of Pandora, defeated The Warrior, and killed the tyrant Handsome Jack. I have officially beaten Borderlands 2 and as I lean back in my chair and contemplate the virtual journey Gearbox Software has taken me on, I am left with only one question… when is Borderlands 3 coming out?
Borderlands 2, Gearbox Software’s sequel to the original “shoot and loot” Borderlands, released in the fourth business quarter of 2012; while not without it’s flaws the sequel remains a significant improvement over the original. Set five years after the events of the original game, a new cast of vault hunters joins the original four treasure-hunting mercenaries on Pandora just as the planet falls under the shadow of a new evil. Handsome Jack, the upstart CEO of the galaxy-spanning Hyperion Corporation, has set his eyes on Pandora and a new alien vault hidden beneath the planet’s surface.
This is the world the player is thrust into, stepping into the shoes of improved versions of the original four classes. Some, like Axton the Commando, are virtually indistinguishable from their predecessors while others like Salvador the Gunzerker are a welcomed upgrade from their forbearers. And almost as soon as the opening credits finish rolling, players find themselves wrapped up in a tale of revenge, betrayal, and redemption. The original cast of vault hunters returns as non-playable characters along with a collection of familiar faces brought together for a story that alternates between being satirical and self-parodying to having some genuinely moving moments.
That is not to say the game is without some shortcomings. While it has a story and overall it’s a fairly entertaining one, it’s not entirely perfect. There are a few plot holes, most of them revolving around the New-U stations used to resurrect the player characters, but the story’s high points more then make up for it. Jack is a loveably despicable villain, as crazy as a cartoon character yet at the same time I think we’ve all worked for a Handsome Jack at some point in our lives. But if New-U is owned by Hyperion and you spend the entire game fighting them… to be fair the game does justify this to an extent though to explain how would ruin the story.
The only other complaint I have, and it’s a contentious one that a few others have raised, is the difficulty. Playing Borderlands 2 alone is difficult. It is not impossible; I managed to defeat Jack and the Warrior playing alone as a Commando specialized in the defense-oriented Survival tree. But it’s definitely not easy; expect to become very familiar with the New-U’s sarcastic AI. I personally found this difficulty to be more “challenging” then “unnecessarily frustrating” but your mileage may vary.
In conclusion, Borderlands 2 fixes all that was wrong with the first game while keeping everything that was good about it was the first place. It is not without flaws nor is it a significant leap from the original game but the magic is still there. Final rating: 4/5