Borderlands 2 Review – A Medication For Depression!
I don’t know anyone who expected the story, the characters, or the humor to be the staring feature of this game; at the same time, I don’t know anyone who didn’t love every single line of dialogue in this game. Regardless of who, or how many people I was on Skype with, it always went deafly quiet whenever a character started talking in game, almost always followed by someone quoting a line that they just heard.
The game is so consistently hilarious, that I’ve lost just about all respect for screenwriters who make comedies. Except for you, Adam McKay (Anchorman 2 better be amazing). It is of my own personal opinion that Handsome Jack is a major contender for the best villain in a video game. Paul Dini’s Joker in the Arkham games (performed by Mark Hamill, of course) is the only character that can possibly compare.
Much like the Joker in the Arkham games, Handsome Jack is one of those rare occasions when brilliant writing meets flawless acting. Upon retrospect, Dameon Clarke (How to Be a Serial Killer) was the absolute perfect choice for Handsome Jack. He’s got that charismatic voice that just oozes arrogance and narcissism with every verbal enunciation.
I really do have to give it up to the voice actors in general. This game completely and entirely relies on them to deliver their lines with precise comedic timing. Which, as any comedian will tell you, is everything. It’s certainly one thing to write jokes, and another to perform them. Both of which require immense talent, and for this game to be so consistent with both things, throughout multiple characters and actors, is simply astonishing. The fact that they maintained this over 40 hours worth of content is astounding. Adam Sandler can’t even do that in a film that lasts an hour and thirty minutes.
Ironically, the gameplay often gets in the way of enjoying the comedic tone of the game. It would be pretty hard to enjoy a comedy, if randomly in the middle of the film; someone punches you in the stomach. It totally ruins the atmosphere, when you start getting killed — a lot. Since, at the root of the game,it is agame driven by random loot, you can verloot; youfall far behind the content if you’reunlucky. Oh, and by the way, I’m very unlucky.
Since there are so few side quests in the game, due to the desire to make everything hilarious, there aren’t that many chances to score big on the perfect item for your playstyle (quest rewards are also randomized). This predicament was all the more infuriating for me, in comparison to most playstyles, because I dumped all my points into the Melee tree for Zero. The only way to improve your melee damage through items, is either class mods or getting really, really lucky on a higher % melee damage increase, on a weapon. Oh, and may I remind you; I’m very unlucky.
The problem gets even worse, when you realize that this multiplayer game has shared loot. Whenever I played with friends, especially more than one person in any game, I got absolutely no loot. Not because I’m not fast enough, but because I refused to just spam the pick up item button, anytime something dropped. I can’t tell you how many times that I was looking at a weapon on the ground, trying to figure out if it was an upgrade or not, when someone would just run up and grab everything on the ground.
This dilemma compounded ten fold, when it came to ammo. Before I had enough eridium to start purchasing much, much bigger ammo reserves, I would often run completely dry because everyone was picking up all the ammo. Again, the problem was that I was just trying to cherry pick the ammo that I needed, in consideration of the others I was playing with; whereas everyone else was just grabbing whatever dropped.
Considering that, as a result of all of this, my gear was often so poor that it would take several mags just to kill something. Operating on such little ammunition, resulted in a very boring and often times frustrating experience, dying or not. And again, such an atmosphere does not make for a conducive environment, in which one can appreciate humor.
When your game is primarily focused around humor, it would seem to me, that you would want to make it as enjoyable with friends as possible. However, between the difficulty and the shared loot system, it would seem to me that they make that pretty much impossible. Resulting in an experience where the player is often just not in the mood for dick jokes. Which is a shame, because Handsome Jack has some really good jokes pertaining to that very subject.
Another thing that irritated me about the gameplay, was just how much time was spent just walking and driving around, without doing much of anything. This was especially tedious when you cleared an entire zone and then had to back track the exact same way you came from. Only, this time, there isn’t anyone to shoot, stab or blow up. Fun.
I will say this, though. The talent trees are seemingly very well done. I haven’t played all the classes to max level, obviously, but just looking around at talent trees seems like there are so many talents whom I want. Spending each point was always done with careful consideration, and I really appreciated the low-cost respecs.
Ending on a good note, I really enjoyed the style of the game. Everything from the music, presentation, leveling up, UI, character introduction and graphics, all had this distinct style that no other game has. This is easily the best cell shading that I have ever seen; and I love me some cell shading.
Honestly, this game is all about humor, and it does it better than anything else that’s out there. This game is absolutely worth it, if for no other reason than to interact with all the eccentric characters.
I went out of my way to complete side quests, not because I enjoyed doing them, or wanted any EXP or item rewards. Rather, I did them for the jokes and quipy comments. I did them, because I liked the characters, and I wanted to experience more of them. It got me through the game, even if the game itself wasn’t so great.
I firmly believe that the reason this game is so consistently funny, is because it knows its audience. Too many films try to spread their jokes too thin, in an attempt to cater to multiple audiences. If you’re a gamer who enjoys a good laugh, and who among us is not one of those, then you owe it to yourself to experience the world of Pandora and all of the eccentric characters that reside there.
Terrible pacing, massive spikes in damage and shared loot makes the game play more frustrating, than fun.
While the models and the world all look gorgeous, the animations of said models are often wonky. A lack of decent particle effects also lessened the beauty of the cell shading in this game.
Everything from the music, to the voice acting, was absolutely astonishing.
The game has style, and lots of it. The UI is crisp and clean, while the comedic writing is the best there is. This game is so funny, the characters so lovable, that in later years, doctors will start prescribing it as medication for depression.
The humor is reason enough to get this game, but the poor gameplay mechanics won’t keep you around for years to come.
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