In 2009, recognized analyst Michael Pachter once claimed that the original Borderlands was "sent to die." Considering its tough release date competition – around the same time as first-person shooter juggernaut, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and deep fantasy role-playing game, Dragon Age: Origins – it is not difficult to see how the uncharacteristically colorful shooter with light RPG elements could find an interested audience. Fortunately, Pachter's prediction did not come to fruition. Borderlands sold well enough to garner a slew of dedicated players and, some three years later, its much-anticipated sequel will be seeing release.
Gearbox Software's FPS and RPG combination continues its firearm and ammunition-based loot-fest with Borderlands 2. Story-wise, with several weapons manufacturers contending for market supremacy, a multitude of unique firearms will be at your disposal (a hyperbolic "gajillion" according to the developer). From guns with elemental traits to ones that double as grenades once ammo has run out, the wide-ranging options available should easily cater to your preferences.
Not content with sitting on their laurels and just offering loads of guns to play with, Gearbox has promised much in the way of upgrades. And for those wondering, yes, the user interface has been updated to accommodate split-screen play. No more cumbersome panning around to see the whole menu.
Pandora's environments in the first Borderlands were fine, but compared to what is promised in its sequel, they were relatively bland. Rather than just wind-swept deserts that often became monotonously brown, Borderlands 2 prompts you to traverse open areas like the lush Wildlife Exploitation Preservation, see the hot springs of an ice-based level, or battle above the corrosive acidic pools littering Caustic Caverns. All of these environmental expanses promise a richer planet whose diverse scope should make you want to explore.
Character class diversity has also been refined in Borderlands 2, with each talent tree sporting at least an additional 1/3 of skills to work toward. Skills should be familiar to players of the first game. Axtion, this game's Commando, controls powerful turrets. Zero, the team's Assassin class representative, can turn temporarily invisible or spawn decoys. The Gunzerker, Salvador, can dual-wield any combination of weapons and has the chance to not even use up ammo while firing off rounds. The Siren, Maya, offers essential support through healing, resurrection, and protection while sporting offensive abilities like incapacitation and levitation. A pre-order exclusive fifth class, called the Mechromancer, – a cyborg-like machine/human – will also be included, though its specific skills are still shrouded in mystery.
The fall season is a log jam of quality game titles every year, so the competition around its release date is little different than its predecessor's. By reworking the negative aspects and improving on what they got right the first time around, though, Gearbox should not find it too difficult for Borderlands 2 to at least earn an equal amount of well-deserved success.
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