First-person shooter is an epic blend of action and characters
By: Derek Mitchell
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 10, 2012 06:00 am
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Genre: Third-Person Action
Online Play: 4-player co-op
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
If you've seen Joss Whedonís sci-fi western Firefly (a must-see series, by the way) you've experienced the unique blend of comically-sound characters and seedy, black market-type locales, all against a backdrop of underground resistance.
Borderlands 2, with its makeshift settings, robustly humorous cast, and all out gun-fun is probably the closest thing you'll find to living the dream of Fireflyís protagonist Capt. Malcolm Reynolds. The only thing missing is the fair ship Serenity to spirit you through the stars.
Truly, I haven't has this much raw fun with a first-person shooter (FPS) in a long time. The long anticipated sequel to the 2009 smash doesn't disappoint. Itís a complete package of characters, action and humour, bringing more mayhem and carnage than before, with a few tweaks along the way.
As with the first game, the unique visual style is brilliantly executed. Though nowhere near as elegantly polished as Halo nor as ruggedly detailed as Gears of War, the cartoonish renderings of characters, creatures and chaos is surprisingly delightful and fits with the light-hearted tone of the game.
In its development of support characters, Borderlands 2 builds on classic archetypes of the hero, the muscle and the femme fatale, among others. However the game shifts and twists these archetypes into various forms, turns their personalities inside out and flips their dialogue into a masterful display of personality and originality. As a result, the characters are, for the most part, relatable, wonderfully unique and fun to experience.
But the best addition to the sequel is loot, loot, and more loot! Containers, lockers and mailboxes are scattered everywhere and yield a bounty of cash and candy ... gun candy, that is. There are various skins to unlock for your character and vehicles. And if that isn't enough, you can even visit previous areas to find ... ta-da! More loot! Yes, there's no shortage of shiny things in this vast, open world to keep you pleasantly engaged.
Some may see the M-rating as a bit of a travesty. Again, Borderlands 2 delivers a twist. This has to be the tamest M-rated game I have seen of late. It doesn't try to overcompensate with a myriad of M-rated language. It doesn't try to submerge you in superfluous blood and gore. This is a refreshing reinforcement of the subtle confidence with which the game was developed.
Equally well developed is the gameís scope. Itís massive. With more than 40 hours of main quest and a barrage of side quests to sate the completion-hungry beast in all of us, the game is one of the biggest sci-fi FPS games on the current market.
The role-playing elements in Borderlands 2 are also alive and well. Missions yield experience points to unlock a variety of enhancements, each tailored to the class of character you chose. A plethora of in-game challenges further bring RPG elements to life in a very fluid way.
And like the action, upgrades and basically everything else in the game, the story missions are well-balanced so that new areas, quests, locales and enemies always seem fresh and challenging, but never lose the fun that is at the core of the game.
It pains me to admit that there are a few drawbacks to the game: vehicles are cumbersome and clunky to manoeuvre at times; the graphics are hit and miss when inspected closely with frequently delayed textures; and the side missions are exactly optional because if you donít level up your character, you wonít have the abilities or the weapons to successfully battle the later stages of the game.
But quirks aside, Borderlands 2 offers up an irresistible, epic mťlange of tantalizing action and sumptuous characters, all presented on a plate of confidently bold adventure. Itís a feast fit for a king, or at least Joss Whedon.
When heís not teaching high school, St. Albert Catholic High School alumnus Derek Mitchell can be found attached to a video game console.