I awarded Borderlands 2 game of the year over at my site, but that was before I had played Far Cry 3. It was only after playing a game as perfect as Far Cry 3 did I begin to see some of the flaws in Borderlands 2. Don’t get me wrong, Borderlands 2 was amazing, but there were a few aspects of the game that people didn’t seem to give much attention to, and I wanted to call a few of those negative aspects out.
Rather than have a list talking complete crap about a game I love, I decided to point out a few of the things I really loved about Borderlands 2 as well. I know this post is many months late in terms of how relative it is, but a good game never gets old. Well, that is my justification, anyway. Alright, we will start with the bad, because it hypes people up more.
The Hugely Under Skilled Assassin Tree In The First Half Of Game, and Over Skilled In Second Half
“ My name is not a name, but a number. And by the time you count to it, you will already be dead twice.” Zero never said that, but he should have, and that is why Gearbox should hire me as a writer.
As awesomely over-powered as Zero gets by the end of the game, when the game starts, picking his class puts you at a serious disadvantage. If you want to use the Bloodshed perk tree, it sets you up with very little in the way of great attacks initially, outside of a back stab. And when you go to a place like Friendship Gulag, that is all bots, backstabbing doesn’t do you a world of good. This makes the first half of the game a real challenge for people who go with Zero. Fun as Hell, but annoying at times.
But then you finish the bloodshed perk and you are, for all intents and purposes, invincible. You initiate your cloak and backstab a guy. If you kill him (which you will for how overpowered your backstabbing is at this point) you extend your cloaking another five seconds, which allows you to kill someone else, which allows you to cloak for five more seconds, which allows you to kill someone, which allows you to cloak for, well, you get the point. As fun as this is the first hour you do it (I was trying to wipe out whole maps without being discovered, and it worked on a few occasions) not dying takes some fun out of the challenge you get so used to by that point.
Awful Check Points
In this scene alone, 2,341,768,982,345 bullet shells were spent.
This really led me to be aggravated a few times during my play through. Some levels would save for you in between hard tasks, and some wouldn’t save at all, for miles. Hell, in some cases, they would save with the damage you had done to a boss, carrying over when you regenerate. Yet, in other cases, die during a boss fight, you have to run to exact spot and summon boss to fight all over again. While I am not complaining about having to fight twice, I just wanted some consistency to how it saved, so I could know what to expect when I would come back. You could, in some fights, die when the boss does, and come back to a stage filled with loots. In other cases, you would have to do it all over again.
See how annoying it was that I just said that twice? Now apply that to a gaming area you have to fight through three or four times and I made my point.
Game Breaking Bugs
Gotta love those lush, cell-shaded visuals.
I know not many people had game breaking bugs in their Borderlands 2, but I did. I will start this off by saying that the game, being as big as it was, played really smooth for the most part. But I had one problem in my game that made my OCD go slightly insane. Everytime I got to the second wave of enemies in Fink’s Slaughterhouse (another nod to TJ, no doubt) the enemies just stopped coming out, so I couldn’t beat that leg of missions. That may seem slight, but for a guy who prides himself on not leaving tasks unfinished, it just did not sit well with me. OCD keeping me up at night, and shit.
Bugs will be bugs, I guess.
Yeah, the pilots singing Flight of the Valkyries was cool the first two hundred times I heard it, but by the four thousandth time, I hated them even more.
I know the point of this enemy was to be annoying and somewhat challenging, no matter what gun you had (outside of a few grenade launchers and heat seekers) but man, this was “Medusa heads” level of annoying for me. Hovering around, fucking you up, dashing over the horizon, only to come back with another one. Yeah, screw buzzards. They were an unecesarily annoying enemy that cluttered up an otherwise fluid shooting experience.
NOW ONTO THE GOOD:
Secretly Awesome Guns You Have No Way Of Knowing About Unless You Try Them All
Yeah, it looks kinda cool in print, but having to try every gun you get in case one is secretly good is a pain in the ass after thirty hours.
Make no mistakes, as much as I am whining, I dig this game, and I really dig the wide selection of guns.
But, like an idiot, I played through a good chunk of the game, playing with certain manufacturer’s guns or gun types, and I was greatly limiting myself. I know the guns have stats, but when you pick up a few after a boss fight without thinking about it, and just keep playing, you have the chance to miss out on some great weaponry So half the fun was getting to a familiar area and just unloading some of your new gun types to see what worked best. And that “sweet spot” you hit when you find a gun that you know you will be using for hours is a pretty awesome feeling, and one that is hard to find outside of Borderlands.
I will admit, it was my own fault I was sitting on a hand gun that was +3000% percent damage, but man, once I discovered I had it, everything was dead in my wake. Except those sporadic fucking buzzards. Also, the guns that would bitch you out were fucking hilarious.
When I first found one of these, I had no idea who was talking to me.
The Changing Visuals and Variety of Maps and Classes
” I bet Santa lives down there” said the Gunzerker, dead seriously.
I love the lush visuals of the Borderlands series, but by the end of the first game, you felt like you had seen all Pandora had to offer (ugly bracelets?). But in Borderlands 2, we really see just how big this game is, and the variety they put into the environments keep this game fresh from start to finish. From towns that look like they were taken from the old west, to sleek, futuristic ports, there is something for everyone in Borderlands 2, and it is really hard to not stay enthralled when they throw so much amazing at you.
Also, huge props for not giving us the same classes from the last game (though they still did, in a different way) but managing to keep the first game’s characters and use them in a way that felt very organic to the game. Also, the Bloodwing scene killed me. And scenes that like packed an emotional punch that lacked in the first game, so huge props to Gearbox for that.
Best Easter Eggs Ever
A sewer where I have to fight mutants who wear colored headbands and love pizza? Check and mate.
Borderlands 2 was so chock full of awesome Easter eggs, you couldn’t play a few hours without discovering some awesome nod to a movie or pre-existing game franchise.
From a gun (and section of a level) inspired by Minecraft, to a shit-ton of Nintendo references (you fight Donkey Mong, and he throws barrels at you), there was fan service and eggs aplenty. Also, should be noted that Gearbox was so awesome they put one of the biggest fans (who passed away from terminal cancer) into Borderlands 2, and you will smile every time you see him, because he wants to share his loot with you. Also, you will smile because you know Gearbox let one of their biggest fans live on in the coolest way possible.
His name was Michael Mamaril. His name was Michael Mamril.
Also, Michael’s pants were pretty awesome, so double points for that.
New Cast of Wacky Characters (Namely, Handsome Jack)
This is me wearing Jack’s face after I killed him. Fact.
While the original Borderlands had some great characters, they were trumped by the cavalcade of kooks that inhabits Pandora this time around. From Tiny Tina to Claptrap to Mad Moxxi, every character had a distinct personality and was voice-acted superbly. But the real star of the show for many of us was Handsome Jack.
From his discovery of a double rainbow:
FULL ON DOUBLE RAINBOW!!!
To the Se7en reference:
To his constant assault on the player, verbally, throughout the game:
Butt stallion for the win.
I believe Handsome Jack might just be the best bad guy I have ever faced in a game. Shout out to Dameon Clark who plays Handsome Jack so damn perfectly. Actually, might like Vaas more, I can’t lie.
There is something indescribably meta about watching an avatar of yourself kill an avatar of yourself, while you are playing an avatar of yourself.