Game of the Month: Borderlands 2

One of the games that suffered under my prolonged Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer carreer is Borderlands 2. I bought the game last year when it was proclaimed to be the next big Science Fiction multiplayer game by players posting on the BioWare Social Network. In the end I didn’t play the multiplayer mode much (see below) but I finally finished the singleplayer campaign today. And after I got over the fact that this game is definitely not Mass Effect 4 it was actually great fun to play.

Borderlands 2 is a first person shooter with role playing elements. At the beginning of the game you pick one of four (or five with an extra DLC) characters with different abilities like deploying a gun turret, cloaking, using two guns at the same time or freezing your enemies. As you progress through the game your character gains experience that you can use to boost his or her abilities. Another role playing element is the extensive amount of loot that can be found: six kinds of weapons, shields, grenades, ability boosters, new custom looks and other interesting items. As the items are randomly generated you can always find new unique loot. While playing the game you can also complete Bad Ass Challenges e.g. by using specific abilities or killing specific enemies to improve various aspects of your character like gun damage or maximum health.

The story takes your character to a planet called Pandora. Pandora is a hostile environment full of monsters, bandits and an army of deadly robots. Your mission is to defeat Handsome Jack the president of the Hyperion corporation and end his reign of terror over Pandora. To accomplish this you must stop him from opening an alien vault where an undefeatable warrior is hidden. Jack wants to control  this warrior to secure his dominance permanently. The main story is divided into a series of missions each with rewards waiting at the end. Besides the main mission you can complete a vast number of side mission that grant your character extra rewards like credits, unique equipment or experience points.

Borderland 2 is technically a very good game. It doesn’t feature photorealistic graphics, the world looks like a comic strip. This style also keeps the violence (of which there is a lot) tolerable. In return for the simple look you get very smooth animation (even on the ageing PS3), vast maps with many details and fast loading times. The game also never crashed for me which is unfortunately not always a given these days. The game play is very good: controls, weapon balance and level design are all excellent. There is also enough story and humour to keep things interesting. The only problems are the occasional spikes in difficulty. I found the displayed difficulty rating of a lot of the missions was not accurate.

The multiplayer mode is interesting because it allows up to three extra player to join the hosts singleplayer campaign. All the players simply play the current mission together, face tougher enemies and get better loot in return. Due to the level of consensus and cooperation required this is really something you want to play with your friends and not with strangers. And as my favourite fellow players unfortunately never bought this game I didn’t play in this mode a lot.

Overall Borderlands 2 is a really enjoyable game full of action and weird humour. If you try to complete the side missions as well it will keep you occupied for a long time.