by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
New features (cntd)
Shield capacity can certainly come in handy considering the amount of guns scattered throughout Pandora yet again. Most of the favourite weapons manufacturers from Borderlands continue to churn out a vast array of killing machines. One new manufacturer – if you can call them that – are the Bandits. Bandits have decided that they can produce quality guns for themselves, albeit in surprising fashion. They have been able to cobble together parts from old weapons and fashioned them in a way that suits their prowess. Most contain huge capacity magazines, reducing the need for reloading.
Reloading can be an issue when it comes to Boss battles. A new crop of bosses have emerged in Pandora and each of them is tough to defeat, even the first boss Knuckle Dragger. Finding the weakness of the boss - whether it be a specific attack pattern, or a weakened hit point - and exploiting them can often take a couple of tries. There are enough checkpoints scattered across the land just in case you require rejuvenation.
Just a few guns
Also scattered around Pandora in great numbers are guns and ammunition. Vanquished foes will more likely than not provide you with the option to pick up their weapon of choice. As was the case with the original Borderlands, there are just so many variants of basically the same group of firearms that it can be a game in itself checking all the stats for each device you encounter. The limited space in your backpack means that you’ll have to spend excess time traipsing back and forth to a vendor or going through your current inventory and throwing out obsolete weaponry fairly constantly.
In some map areas, it can be quite a hike back to the nearest vendor, especially if you decide to do so on foot. Fortunately many of the larger areas have access to vehicles. But of course, if there are vehicles available for you, that means there are vehicles available for your enemies as well.
Vehicle movement and combat is almost identical to that in Borderlands, which breeds a sense of familiarity. Indeed, most of the controls would be familiar to experienced Vault Hunters. And for those picking up Borderlands 2 without having played the first game in the series, the controls are easy to pick up. Well, it is a shooter after all – not much to it really, although I have seen some rotten control schemes before. But the shooting here is smooth and responsive. Hitting an enemy in the head from a considerable distance to score a vital Critical Hit is a great feeling.
From a visual standpoint, Pandora and its inhabitants are again a joy to behold. Yes, they are not photo realistic, but the unique art style has been duplicated from the original. The steampunk landscapes are more splendid than ever, from the opening snow covered tundra, to the Wild West looking area of Lynchwood and even to the more lush area at Caustic Caverns. Much of the areas continue to have a shanty town feel to them, filled with old shipping containers, metal drums, fire pits and scattered trash. Characters too are finely detailed, making it simple to tell one enemy from another. Written identifiers make it easier still.
The visuals are superbly complemented by the audio. The music from the opening intro sets the scene amazingly and just never lets up. Borderlands 2 has some great tunes and some laugh out loud comedic dialogue from the major characters in the game - yes, our good friend Claptrap makes a triumphant return. The sound effects are pretty much the same as the original title, but work well again. It is easy to know when a shotgun wielding dwarf is rushing towards you, just from the sound of his screeching laugh.
Wonderful to be back
Returning to Pandora feels like visiting a favourite holiday destination. You’ve enjoyed the scenery, met some of the local inhabitants, made some great new friends, and above all had a great time. The fact that it hasn’t changed much since my last visit is fine by me. The first time was great and I had just as much fun on this occasion. And this vacation resort had me happy for a good 20 hours, definitely longer than many of the other holiday locations in Shooter Valley. If Gearbox keeps this up, I may attempt to become a permanent resident.
Controls and gameplay mechanics have been left largely identical to the original, breeding a sense of familiarity.
Inventory management can be a pain, especially before you get used to the gun types.