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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Borderlands 2 kills as one of the year’s best games


    “Borderlands 2” is the rarest type of video game. It’s something so complete that trying to list or explain everything great about it is a grand undertaking. Before I explain, know this upfront: you should go buy the game now.

    No, now. You have homework? Sorry, teach. You need to go to the hospital? Not today. You don’t like video games? It’s time to change your mind, quick.

    Killing with a smile

    Above all else, “Borderlands 2” has an undeniable and infallible charm. Gearbox Software writes hilarious dialogue, and within minutes of starting the game takes you in and doesn’t let go, ever. Almost everything anyone says warrants at least a chuckle, and that isn’t an exaggeration. Even listening to the non-playable characters around town is amusing.

    After digging its hooks in, the game introduces players to the actual gameplay, which presents itself as a straightforward first person shooter. It takes a bit to adjust to the feel of “Borderlands 2,” but once you do, the gameplay is smooth.

    Next the game tantalizes players with its weapons system, which is reminiscent of the item generation in PC classic “Diablo.” Weapons are created by randomizing a myriad of factors, such as rarity, damage, reload speed, clip size, accuracy, a number of special qualities and a potential for elemental damage. The system is so varied that finding two identical weapons in the same play-through would be a miraculous feat.

    Weapon types are relatively standard – assault rifle, SMG, pistol, shotgun, sniper rifle and eventually rocket launcher – but the variation of other factors makes every firearm feel fresh. A good drop can also be used long after obtaining it, which also is rewarding. Granted, it’s all luck of the draw to a degree, but that doesn’t change the fact.

    Enemies don’t start off terribly varied or difficult to deal with, but that changes fast. Not that one enemy is that much of a handful, save the occasional boss, but their sheer numbers can wear reckless players down. The good news is that players who listen carefully will be treated to some great lines while they mow down baddies or die trying.

    Surviving Pandora

    Health and ammo aren’t abundant on the planet Pandora, so you have to be conservative to stay alive. The game is littered with boxes to open and vending machines to stock up on supplies, but going in Rambo style is a surefire way to die quick. Fortunately, the game has frequent respawn points that make deaths far less frustrating than they could be.

    The maps are huge, though there are accessible and fun-to-drive vehicles all around the map. The cel-shaded style of “Borderlands 2” also makes for some gorgeous vistas and scenery when played on an HD display. Keeping an eye out for enemies can be a trial if your eyes aren’t glued to the mini-map, so watch out for surprises.

    More than anything, Pandora isn’t a world to explore alone, if you can help it. The place is unforgiving and lethal, plus playing with a friend is always more enjoyable. Going through the game alone isn’t impossible by any means, but expect a lot of deaths, retreats and waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Besides, weapon drops are better when playing with a friend, and up to four can join you. With online play an option, it’s a no-brainer.

    Here’s another tip: utilize the vehicles. There’s no reason to waste the precious ammo in your weapons when vehicles come with an infinite amount. Besides, it’s easy to lure enemies in inaccessible areas out into the open on foot where you can hop back into your vehicle and blast away. Vehicles are also good to run to when things get dicey, if you can.

    Layers and layers and layers and layers

    Few games are as unassumingly complex as “Borderlands 2.” Not that the game tries to hide it, but it isn’t immediately apparent. The typical RPG will force players through mundane tutorials in an attempt to explain its more complex aspects.

    But “Borderlands 2” waits until players gain a few levels – yes, you gain levels, too – before lifting the veil and revealing its depth. Each character, of which there are four at the moment, has three skill trees. Starting at level five and each level after, players get one point to allocate to different skills that offer bonuses.

    For players of “World of Warcraft” or other massively multiplayer online role playing games, this will look familiar. For players who haven’t, it might be a little tough to figure out the best route. Each tree complements a different play-style, but you’re also free to mix and match. The good news is that the “Borderlands 2” website has a page allowing players to hash out their trees ahead of time.

    On top of the skill trees players can, and frequently will, complete various challenges while playing the game. Racking up enough completed challenges earns players “badass tokens,” and you’ll get a lot of them. Spending the tokens allows the player to pick from five or six potential, permanent upgrades.

    They’re minor percentage boosts to skills like weapon damage and maximum health, but they apply across all of a player’s characters. It’s a nice feature that helps second play-throughs go quicker.

    I’ve already mentioned the weapon versatility, but it’s worth stressing again. There are so many guns – more than you can imagine. It’s almost overwhelming, and if inventory space wasn’t limited, players would have thousands cluttering their packs in a matter of hours.

    There are also a number of different shield types and grenade and class modifications, adding another layer of complexity.

    On top of that, players can buy permanent upgrades to their inventories as well using a rare, secondary type of money called “Eridium.” This lets players increase how much ammo they can carry and how many items they can carry in their backpacks.

    There’s an outside?

    A word of caution, harkening back to my insistence that you buy the game immediately no matter what your obligations are. “Borderlands 2” will make you want to stop doing anything else. School and work become even greater chores than they were before, and you’ll have to make a conscious effort to drag yourself away just to see the sun once a day – if that’s something you care about.

    This might be a bit of hyperbole, but only a bit. The game is seriously that engrossing and fun, and it’s a must buy. Order it online, download it through Steam or hurry on down to your local game store, but get it soon.

    Follow us on Twitter @wildcatarts and follow Jason @Jason_Krell.

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