Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ten Best of 2012: Borderlands 2

Like the first game, Borderlands 2 delivers on all its promises. The art direction is fantastic and unique, the characters and dialogue feel crisp and sharp, and the guns feel powerful and dynamic, each providing a use for different situations. But unlike the first game, Borderlands 2 excels in narrative, giving a reason and motivation for your character other than simply collect more guns.

You don’t play as the same characters from the first game, but with good reason. Roland, Brick, Mordecai, and Lilith all play significant parts in the story, structured much better this time with a central antagonist, Handsome Jack. Most characters have well written dialogue, though sometimes overflow with too many internet pop culture references. Jack, however, I felt was more annoying than menacing. Gearbox took the idea of interacting with the villain throughout Borderlands 2 and ran with it, having Jack pipe in with some one-liner at the start or end of what seemed like every story mission.

Borderlands 2 feels big enough, even without the quantity of downloadable content still coming, to fill the role of a loot-driven game like Diablo 3 or Torchlight 2 might. That’s great for those like me who find the click-to-move or click-to-attack mechanic archaic. But along with the same mentality loot-driven games often evoke, Borderlands 2 wields MMO design too gingerly, often tasking you to across the world, back and forth, to collect 10 of something, or deliver an item to a specific character. This might work well when playing four-player co-op, but as a solo experience, it makes world and quest design feel artificially elongated.

Downloadable content is still coming for Borderlands 2, a title released back in September. I’ve put it off until all of the expansions are out in the wild, but Borderlands 2 will be a game I come back to for sure in 2013 to level my assassin all the up to 50.

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