Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC (reviewed on)
Price: £30-£40
Buy/Miss/Rent: Buy
Reviewed by: Phillip Oliver

A lot of people across the world got to experience a hatred of one nation in particular that the likes of such has not been seen for many years. An unexplainable want to shout like a moron at this one nation like a crazed nut. I experienced this, which obviously (as you can tell by the title of this review) was because of the release of Borderlands 2 coming out in the US a whole 2 days or 48 hours or 2880 minutes or 172800 seconds before it released in the UK. No matter though because I think myself and much of the gaming industry has been waiting for this one for almost 3 years now.

The original Borderlands stemmed from a story which other developers should aspire to write towards on a similar level of brilliance. They were working on a project of the same name and realised years into it, they didn’t like what it had become. The character and personalities of the developers just wasn’t showing through. For that reason, they went against what would have been considered profitable and created a whole new art style and dynamic to the game and with that, it brought the sense of humour that I loved so much, shining through the game. They didn’t like what they had made, so they changed it, even if it may have killed the project in the end due to financial issues. They would rather make a good product than put something out there which they didn’t deem was up to scratch.

Despite its brilliance, at times Borderlands was flawed and that is why a sequel was not only needed, but craved by the many vault hunters out there. Now the game has finally shipped and it is without a shadow of a doubt one of the most fun games out there. Vault hunting has never been so fun.

The first few minutes (much like the first game) show the new group of vault hunters enter the world of Pandora, apart from the fact there is approximately 2000% times more explosions and an exponential amount of awesomeness. The train taking you across the flats of Pandora is attacked by an as of yet unknown enemy with bots raining bullets down on our heroes. Cue a quick display of all of the characters abilities and a huge explosive finish and you are thrown face first into the cold and harsh terrain of Pandora.

This is where you get to choose your character after your limited time of viewing them in the initial cut scene. You have the Gunzerker, the character first showed off in the announcement trailers, with the ability to dual wield weapons for a limited period of time. He is also the resident ammo man with later unlocks specialising him towards ammo regeneration. Then you have the Siren, who unlike the previous Siren is much more of a tank than last games Lilith. Her special move is the ability to suspend an enemy above ground for a period of time allowing for the team to concentrate fire upon them. Gone are the days of a reserved, more distant Siren. Then you have the Commando much like the last game who has the ability of a deployable turret. Although weak at first, a few duration upgrades and the ability to fire a volley of rockets will see you decimating waves of smaller enemies with this character. Last but by no means least, the Assassin. This character’s ability shares stark similarities with that of Lilith’s off last game. He can for a short period of time turn invisible and deploy a hologram of himself to fool enemies. This also allows for a huge critical attack melee at the end of the ability. All great characters and much more independent than the previous Borderland’s character who often had distinct weaknesses to promote a greater need for cooperative play.

Once you have finally made your decision, which if you are like me took around 30 minutes, you are thrown into the icy tundra’s of an all new looking Pandora.  Of course, your first friend on this obscurely reminiscent planet is the resident ClapTrap, the last of his kind presumably after the murder of thousands of them in the DLC of the previous game. It’s the small details like this that make the game so enthralling to me. Convention and normality are just inexplicably evil in the world of Pandora.

The guns which are introduced into the game this time really show off the new modelling for weapons and how starkly different they are from the last game. The first weapon I found was a mere shotgun with an awesome explosive effect. The decals on the side of the weapon spotted green, black and yellow just imposed badass upon all that was around it, the huge barrel attached on the end of this beast made it almost a bit weird when it turned out to be really weak in actual effect. It was from that point I personally realised, there was much more to find and this was probably one of the worst guns it the game and that was probably the best thing that could happen to me. Speaking shotguns, huge capacity flame ball guns (that is the only way possible to explain it) and a slag rocket launcher (with slag being a new element effect which increases damage done to a “slagged” target), if you were annoyed by last game’s weapons near the end, you will not be disappointed this time around.

The story follows on logically from the last game and actually holds some substance this time. The looming H shaped Hyperion ship that constantly watches over the wastelands is a constant reminder of the story and although for the purpose of spoiler alerts I won’t go into it, there is certainly a strong water tight narrative which was unexpected for a game that doesn’t even have a hint of taking itself seriously throughout the many hours of campaign it offers. Old characters return as NPC’s this time around which was almost weird for the hearing that the character I spent hundreds of hours with in the previous title saying more than “Euurghh” when they jump. It’s not only the previous game they make references to in Borderlands 2, it’s actually a huge collection of references from games, TV shows and other random assorted goodness the developers have injected into the game. I mean, there’s effing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in it for Christ sake, TMNT!

Despite all this, Borderlands 2 holds very much to its roots. The art style is beautiful (much like the first game), the focus on team work and being able to tailor your character is there (although a bit more refined this time around), the brilliant voice over work and dialogue, it’s just like exploring Borderlands all over again and the refinements that have been made just push this forwards. Brilliance made more brilliant, what more could a gamer ask for? This is certainly my game of the year so far and that is only because of the sheer large amounts of fun it provides, this game is unmatched and if you are still left thinking whether you should buy it by this point, you are a mad man/woman!