Looking back, the original Borderlands was such an epic game. Many hours were spent wandering around Pandora. It had great co-op play, great characters and script. The FPS mechanics were just as good as any top tier shooter, so you're never left frustrated with the game mechanics. A few years have passed since then, and now the sequel has finally arrived!. So does the new one live up to expectations?
Short answer: Hell Yea!
Long answer: This is probably one of the times where more of the same is OK. So what do you get in Borderlands 2? Well, now there are more areas to explore, and the areas are bigger. Not sure exactly how much real estate there is now compared to the previous game, but it is noticeable.
Some minor changes were made to the interface and menu system. Most of which were nice changes, like the addition of the mini-map. The only thing I did not like was removing the compass below your XP bar, and the diamond that shows up on it for your bearings. Also, the mini-map is a bit small compared to the zoom level, so its a bit of an adjustment to get used to knowing how far items are, and where the other members of your party are. I also like the indicators added for new available quests and which NPC to talk to when you need to turn in a completed quest. Minor, but much needed additions.
New characters are available this time around, although there are a lot of similarities to the previous quartet. You still have a soldier with a turret, but this time, the turret is a lot more powerful and useful. The Siren is still the elemental based character, but now is more geared towards healing and crowd control with the phase lock ability. The Assassin that replaces Mordecai is now more stealthy and has a more powerful melee attack, no more pet though. The berzerker is now a gunzerker, which has the ability to dual wield guns now, instead of roid raging on enemies. The abilities may have changed, but the synergy between the characters feels familiar.
I just finished the first playthrough, and without spoiling the story for anyone, I have to say the story in Borderlands 2 was quite interesting, and is definitely better than the first game's story. But once again, it did feel a bit short. There's still lots to do in the game, with countless side quests, and the new badass ranking system. In the first game, you completed in-game challenges and you get rewarded with XP. If you use a gun type often, you'll be more proficient with it and have better accuracy or reload speeds for that type. In the new system, when you complete a challenge, you earn badass ranks. These ranks translate to tokens that you can trade in for boosts to your stats, or gun damage, reload speeds etc. The nice thing is, you now have the freedom to pick whatever bonus you want. Another thing to note, these ranks carry over to all your characters, so you aren't stuck playing the one class to make them a super class while the other characters get neglected.
More guns, More everything...
There are a lot of variations now in the gun designs, and there is a much better separation between the various brands of guns in the game. Even within each brand and type of gun, there are many combinations of components that change the look of the gun to really make each one a unique piece of hardware. I really enjoyed the new mechanic of throwing away the gun, that explodes like a grenade when you reload. It's like a free shot outside of your ammo. Gearbox really did a great job with the gun designs, and all the variations in reload animations.
Graphics / Art Style...
This pretty much remains the same, there maybe some slight improvements, but its cell-shaded style makes it a bit harder to tell. But really, with a game like this, the graphics are not the focus. The game is so good and fun, that you don't really care about it. There's a lot more enemies this time around, and the old ones are back and revamped a bit, but the overall feel of Pandora still remains.
Since it didn't really take long to get through the playthrough, and with way the skill trees are setup, I really feel that 50 skill points is not enough. Gearbox has a record for making epic DLC, so I expect the level cap to go up in the near future. I am also looking forward to trying out the new character that is coming out, as some have mentioned that the play style will be totally new and different. Anyways, if you haven't gotten this game already, then go out and buy it now, its easily one of the best games of the year, and will only get better as more content comes out.