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Borderlands 2 nearly perfects the blend of shooter and role-playing game (review)

Image Credit: 2K Games

Loot. It is the desire of every fan of role-playing games. The need for better stats, the want for something that looks cooler, the desire to know that your items are better than your friend’s.

Guns. The addiction of the shooter player. They come in many shapes and sizes, but they all serve one goal: killing.

The original Borderlands gained a lot of praise for combining the shooter with loot-based RPGs like Diablo. Developer Gearbox Software basically invented a genre. And now, it nearly perfects it.

WHAT YOU’LL LIKE

Bang for your buck

Borderlands 2 is a huge game. Completing the story while doing only a fraction of the side quests takes about 30 hours. Now, add to that all of those extra missions, and you have an even longer experience. If you still crave more, you can then replay the game with four classes, each with three different skill trees that alter their styles.

But I’m not done! After you beat the game, you unlock a harder difficulty to challenge your decked-out character. Simply put, I’m not good enough at math to properly calculate exactly how many hours you could spend playing Borderlands 2. Let’s just say it’s a lot.

To me, the best RPGs smother their players in content. Borderlands 2 does exactly that, but with action that’s far less likely to get dull than the boring grind of turn-based battles. Something’s gone right when you’ve spent 30 hours on a game and know that you could easily spend another 100. I can’t ask for much more than that.

Claptrap and the funnies

It may seem weird to devote so much of a review to a character who primarily serves as comic relief, but I freakin’ love Claptrap. The lovable little robot from the original Borderlands returns with an expanded role, especially in the early parts of your adventure.

I experienced something that I call “so funny I have to pause.” This is the rare occurrence when a game gives me a case of the giggles so hard that I have to pause the action. Few games achieve this. The last that I can remember was Valve’s hilarious Portal 2. But Claptrap had me bursting in fits of laughter several times, with lines that I dare not spoil for you (besides, they’d lose their effect if you don’t hear them from his funny voice).

Borderlands 2

Claptrap isn’t the only successful humorous aspect of Borderlands 2. Gearbox Software littered Pandora with quirky, memorable characters, including a 13-year-old demolitions expert and a grotesquely overweight mechanic. Even the text that flashes on the screen upon completing quests contributes to the game’s great sense of humor.

Idealized customized

Borderlands 2′s marketing materials proudly proclaim that the game has “bazillions of guns.” While I didn’t actually count, I can confirm that the chests and corpses of Pandora spew out a “crapload” of munitions. While guns come in only so many types (shotgun, pistol, sniper, and such), a multitude of variables make each firearm stand out. Besides from the usual stats (damage, accuracy, and things like that), guns can deliver different types of elemental damage. Some abilities are more unusual, like weapons that shoot out a rocket while you’re reloading them.

It’s even more fun seeing how different all of the guns look from each other. I can’t imagine how many models Gearbox had to create for this ungodly arsenal, but in 30 hours of gameplay, I never felt like I had two guns that looked alike.

You can also customize your character with skins (these drop from enemies). Some skins drastically change the appearance of your Vault Hunter while others just mix up the color scheme. Still, it helps to differentiate your adventurer from the hundreds of thousands of others that would otherwise look exactly like them.

You can grab all of these, plus equally varied grenades, shields, and other buffing equippables, from hundreds of boxes, carts, chests, and even Porta-Pottys. Plus all of the items that drop from killed enemies. Oh, and rewards for completing quest. Plus all of those vending machines. So, yes, Borderlands 2 has a lot of loot.

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