Borderlands 2 – Game of the Year Edition Review
By Kerri Hooper
You follow one of six unique vault hunters, each with different abilities: Axton the Commando, Salvador the Gunzerker, Maya our resident Siren, Zero the assassin, the two DLC characters, Gaige the Mecromancer and Krieg the Psycho on their quest to stop Handsome Jack and Hyperion, find adventure and the best gear on Pandora.
Before we get into the story, I want to spend a bit of time with our playable characters, their different abilities and back stories:
First is Axton, our Commando, who like Roland utilizes Turrets. A former Dahl Sergeant, dishonorably discharged for his personal glory seeking ways and sentenced to death by firing squad. His former wife/commanding officer recommends he not try to escape to one of the many places beyond Dahl’s reach, which he does, then makes his way to Pandora after hearing one of Handsome Jack’s ads. Depending on which tree you utilize your turret can heal you, set off nuclear explosions or even spawn a second Turret.
Salvador, the Gunzerker, in my eyes, is this game’s Brick, using two guns instead of his fists. Born and raised on Pandora, he has a love of violence (and steroids, causing his 5’4″ stature), but aimed it towards bandits and other outlaws. None the less, before the events of Borderlands he too is set to die for his actions, but before he does, Hyperion attempts to seize his town. After defeating the invaders, Salvador becomes interested in the vault, after interrogating (torturing) the last survivor.
Like I said previously, Salvador’s ability is gunzerking, meaning firing two guns at once, so weapon placement for him is key. A good method is keeping a slag weapon in each rotation. His skill trees range between gun and damage boosting, extending gunzerking times, ammo regen and healing.
Zer0 is the game’s Assassin, kinda like Mordecai’s hunter with his sniper rifle proficiency, but no bloodwing. An assassin for hire, dealing with common hits as well as political ones, he becomes disillusioned when his victim won’t fight back, even after Zer0 demands it. A bartender tells Zer0 of Pandora after he laments about his lack of interest lately.
There’s not much known about Zer0, even his gender maybe a lie. He gets his name from the zero displayed on his face plate. There’s also a lot of debate on if Zer0 is even human or not, given his body type and lack of fingers. I’d like to think he was possibly a R.A.T, or genetically modified in some way, though it’s speculated that Tanis knows his origins.
Zer0’s ability is decepti0n, creating a hologram of himself to distract enemies. His skill trees involve strengthening his sniper rifle usage and critical damage, strengthening the decepti0n ability and combat and strengthening his melee attacks. Quite useful since his melee weapon is a sword.
Maya is one of the 6 Sirens, like Lilith, though her ability is to phaselock, locking an enemy in a bubble and damaging them. She was given to The Order of the Impending Storm when she was identified as a Siren when she was still an infant. She was trained in secret until she was revealed as a goddess to the orders followers. She later found out she was actually being used to extort money from the followers. Maya kills the monks who raised her, and decides to go to Pandora, to learn more about Sirens, and to finally explore.
Maya’s ability can be great for co-op, playing the role of a healer. With her ability to phaselock a teammate back from fight for your life, heal them by shooting them and heal everyone by phaselocking an enemy. Like the other Sirens, she can also cause elemental damage, even creating some out of nothing.
After the game’s release we were given two DLC characters, Gaige and Krieg. Both completely new and unique to the game. Here’s their rundown.
Gaige is a high school student, who for her science fair made an anti bullying robot. While making the robot she cut her arm rather deeply, so instead of healing it, she sliced it off and made a cybernetic one to digistruct her robot, at that point named DT. She later finds out the school bully found her blueprints for DT and sold them to the local police force. Enraged she finalizes DT, with digistructed claws and lasers and renamed him Deathtrap.
At the science fair her bully’s father has bribed the judges, giving Gaige third place. Her bully begins to gloat and shove Gaige, prompting Deathtrap to protect Gaige with his digistruct claws. When struck by the claws, the bully, for lack of a better word, exploded. Gaige was sent to the principal’s office, where her worst fears are confirmed, she’s going to be expelled and arrested. Her father creates a distraction, with a golf cart and lots of gasoline, and Gaige escapes to a ship heading for Pandora. There she hopes her intelligence can be appreciated.
Gaige utilizes Death Trap, her partner robot who can attack with claws, lasers, and explosions, he can also regenerate your and your teammates shields. That doesn’t mean Gaige herself can just shoot, she has many unique and fun abilities. Depending on which tree you use you can trade accuracy for damage, have ricocheting bullets, and cause electrical and burn damage.
Our final character is Krieg, the Psycho, basically one of the bad guys became a vault hunter. Not much is known about Krieg’s past other than he’s deemed Hyperion property, though you can see small glimpses of the man he was before with his inner voice. Before the events of Borderlands 2 he wandered the wastelands looking for bandits and other combatants to date his bloodlust. He tries to avoid the non-fighters/innocents, since his inner voice threatens to kill him if he does.
He meets Maya, his inner voice thinks she can help him, so he attempts to call out to her, but instead yells about poop trains. Maya, thinking he’s a regular psycho, and engages him in combat, and doesn’t see the R.A.T.S creeping up behind her. Krieg’s inner voice finally is able to yell out a warning to Maya, before decimating her attackers. At the end of his introduction video you can see him on the side of the train heading to Windshear Waste, explaining how he got there.
His ability is The Buzz Ax Rampage, your melee damage goes up 500%, you completely heal with every kill, speed increases 33% and you gain the ability to throw your buzz ax. Depending on your tree you choose you can pad your melee abilities even when your not rampaging, add explosive damage, and cause elemental damage. Krieg’s abilities also alter fight for your life, where he can drop a grenade and gain double experience for the kills, or throw dynamite at enemies to try to regain health.
Our game begins when the train carrying you and your fellow Vault hunters is discovered to actually be a trap by our games main villain, Handsome Jack. You’re found by claptrap, from Borderlands one, who decides you’ll be his ticket out of his frozen wasteland prison. You travel through Windshear Waste, where you meet some new additions to the Borderlands badie team, Bullymongs, and have your first boss fight with Knuckledragger.
Claptrap later leads you to Liar’s Berg, where you meet one of the new characters, Sir Hammerlock, where, after doing a few more missions, you finally get to sanctuary, where you get to meet several characters from Borderlands. The old vault hunters are back, and more fleshed out with some great personalities.
Compared to its predecessor, Borderlands 2 has definitely stepped up. From character customization, Borderlands you got to choose the hair, shirt and pant color, while in 2 you get tons of color schemes to play with and head customizations. You can get these customizations buy doing certain missions, enemy drops and ammo machines.
The weapons have greatly improved as well, they’re more accurate, vividly colored and stronger. The launchers in one were weak, and did more more damage to you than for you, here… well, if you blast yourself it’ll still take a huge chunk of your health, but it could be a one hit kill in your favor too. Sadly the Atlas gun company is gone, but we get the elemental Maliwan instead (perfect for Maya). The rarity levels are still the same as well (white (most common), green, blue, (uncommons) purple (rare), orange (legendary) and light blue (pearlescent/mega legendary).
The main story is so immersive, and you really get attached to these characters. There were several parts that did make me actually tear up. There are so many twists, turns and surprises it always keeps you guessing, even if it’s your first, second (True Vault Hunter Mode) or third (Ultimate Vault Hunter mode). Another fun bonus is they brought back the Catch-A-Rides, and of course Scooter. You get your basic two seater runner, with a ton more color options, and a new edition, the Bandit Technical, which could carry up to for players, has a turret and you can use your normal weapons on it as well, this too has lots of customizable colors.
The co-op mode is great, there’s no tether (unless your teammate has the menu open), You can complete separate missions and both get the rewards. The upside (or down if you don’t like a lot of difficulty) is with the more teammates (only two per system, four in your party all together) the stronger the enemies, and rarer the loot. A personal recommendation us if your co-oping, have a Siren on your team, especially if your doing a slaughter dome challenge, even if she gets taken out she can still snipe and phaselock you back to health from the sidelines.
Something you may want to invest in is the game of the year edition, or all of the DLC, not just Gaige and Krieg. In the GOTY set you get both characters, and four expansion games, all taking place after the main story, so if it’s your first play through, save them for last. The GOTY’s expansions are: Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate’s Booty, Mr. Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage, Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt and Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep. I know there are more DLC, but I only have experience with these four. After completing each DLC you’ll get an exclusive head and skin.
Captain Scarlet and her Pirate’s Booty has you searching for Captain Blade’s lost treasure. You meet Captain Scarlet just after you arrive in the strange town of Oasis, where she asks you to join her in her search of the lost treasure.
The second DLC, Mr. Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage, introduces Mr. Torgue, of Torgue’s guns. He’s found the next vault, so to decide who gets to open it, he hosts a brutal fight to the death tournament. In this DLC you get a ton of Torgue equipment, along with certain heads and skins.
The third campaign is Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunting. It wasn’t as well received as the other DLC, and I can see why. It starts off as a hunting trip with Hammerlock, which turns into dealing with a Handsome Jack cult. Sadly the story seems a bit lacking, with some parts being needlessly difficult, and others laughably easy. I honestly just played it for the sake of completion.
The fourth was Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon’s Keep, my personal favorite. While our current Vault Hunters are interrogating a Hyperion spy, the originals are playing a game of Bunkers and Badasses to pass the time. The story is such a wild fantasy, and I never felt like it was dragging on, it manages to include most of the characters. Since its from Tiny Tina’s mind you know its wild, entertaining and you never know what anyone will say.
All in all if your a fan of FPS, crazy characters and a wild story from beginning to end, then you definitely need to give Borderlands 2 a try. You’ll definitely get addicted.
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