I’ve been (literally) having a blast playing Borderlands 2 lately. Released on 21st September in the UK, it’s been getting universally good reviews from everyone who’s played it. The first game sailed by without much notice. I’m not sure why I picked it up through Steam in the first place, but it was probably through one of their wallet-raping sales that you’re informed about on a nigh-weekly basis. That’s not a complaint by the way. Steam, which if you’re a thick twat who’s never done any PC gaming before, is basically iTunes for video games. Real video games. Not the ones you play on your electronic twatbox while waiting for the 19:06 to Brighton.
The worrying thing about BL2 is how damn addictive it is. One friend on my Steam list has clocked up over 120 hours already. In three weeks. It helps not having a girlfriend, but surely this kid should be in school. Whereas my previous crack was Valve’s Left 4 Dead 2, which I put a ridiculous 442 hours into (over two years, I’d like to add), I’m already worried that I’m getting sucked into something else entirely.
While the looting was something fun and almost peripheral in the first game, Gearbox have made (ultra rare) orange loot even impossible to find. I’ve finished the game once, and haven’t seen a single orange item dropped. The co-op has been vastly improved too. Joining a random game through matchmaking drops you into your current story mission just before the XP has been farmed, meaning you aren’t getting screwed like you did in the first game. Often was the case you’d join a co-op match and find that the other players were levels ahead of you, your bullets were doing no damage to the Psychos, and you were screwing up your mission list by blocking side-missions because you add the host’s mission list to your own. It was enough to drive a sane man fucking mental. In BL2, you leave a host, and your list is back to normal. What makes it so great is that you really have the power to choose whether you want other people helping you out or not. I know some players who really like to get their teeth into a game in SP, then perhaps play for a bit with other players. In BL2, the experience is completely transformed by the other players being there. The bad guys get harder. The loot is better. The fun increases exponentially. You really are missing out by not making your game open to three more players.
Some players I’ve been on servers with have complained that the story mode is too short. I beg to differ. It took three solid days of non-stop playing to finish it and get Zero up to level 30. Thats three days without social contact, shopping trips or wearing any nice hats outdoors. If you’re playing BL2 casually, you’ll get a good couple of weeks of solid gameplay on the main missions alone.
The optional missions are great. Less of those ‘go get me this, bring it back here’ type yawnfests that are in too many RPGs. The rewards are sweeter and they enhance the overall story and develop the world you’re living (and killing) in.
Most noticeably, the writers have pumped more humour into the game. There are no implications when main baddie Handsome Jack accuses Moxxi (the large breasted Underdome owner from the first game) of having sucked on quite a few penises in her time. There’s the double rainbow bit. And the Minecraft easter egg/cave/skins. And they’re just the ones I’ve found so far. I don’t think I’ve actually tried to find any secrets because I’ve always been caught up in the missions and the co-op play. In short, there’s plenty to go back for if you want to.
to be continued…