Hey guys, what’s good? Hopefully everything.  Well, as we all know, September 18th was a big day.  The day the 2012 Hardcore Gaming Season officially began with the release of Borderlands 2, which I’ll be reviewing today.   And just a quick side note, yes, for anyone wondering, I will be doing my year end Game of the Year awards again this year.  So I just finished up my first play-through of Borderlands 2, and let me tell you, we have a lot to cover here.  But first, as always, let’s figure out how we got here, before we go there

Back in 2009, Gearbox Software released their new IP to the world, Borderlands.  It didn’t take off like they had hoped, but they didn’t get discouraged, because through pretty much word of mouth alone, Borderlands became a sleeper hit.  While sales at launch weren’t great, it picked up and soon became the best secret of the year.  I personally wasn’t into it at launch, but during summer of 2010, I picked it up and with a buddy of mine on split-screen, we loved it.  It was hard to find a great couch co-op game, in other words, a game you could co-op without going online.  So when they announced a sequel, I knew right away that I was getting it first day no matter what (and I even traded in 11 games to get it, too).

Borderlands is a different breed of game.  It’s a game that takes all the elements of the FPS (First Person Shooter) and mixes them in a blender with an RPG (Role Playing Game).  That was one of the main tag lines of the first game, but it soon became known for another tag line — Shoot and Loot.  Because of all the elements of the game, the main one — is loot.  Guns, money, shields, relics, mods, etc.  The first Borderlands had so many different guns that it was even given the Guinness World Record for most guns in a single game.  The officially number came in around 17,750,000 different guns.  Which isn’t close a bazillion like the game claims, but it’s still WAYYYY more than literally any other game had.

Well, they better get their number clickers warmed up because after just one play-through, I can already tell you that Borderlands 2 has way more.  It’s insane.  I don’t know if it’s randomized somehow or what, but I hope it is because I can only imagine being a programmer and having to make all these weapons.  The only bad part is, if you play with more than just yourself, you’re going to miss out on some loot because I never once ran into two of the same gun.  They always differ in damage, fire rate, reload speed, magazine size, and some of them even have elemental effects such as lighting enemies on fire, or covering them in this new Slag element, which makes them take more damage.  You’re going to want to get used to Slag because with Bazillions of guns, comes Bazillions of enemies, and they can get down right TOUGH within a few minutes.

On my second day of playing, I was doing a mission that is basically for a level 15 player.  Well I was OP (Over-Powered) for this mission because I was doing it while I was a level 19, and my weapon load-out was killer!  I was stomping everything in my path, or so I thought.

During this mission, they sent in an enemy known as a Constructor, which is a robot that will kill you, while building other, smaller robots at the same time.  Well, all the robots I faced before him were levels 13-16, and they were dropping like flies, but in comes this level 20 Constructor, and — well, let’s just say before that mission I had over $10,000 (when you die, it takes money to respawn) and after the mission, I had less than $3,000.  I was upset, but that’s the thing about this game, if I wanted to, I could sit here and open up every safe in an area, probably get about $100-500, then save and quit, reload, and do it again.  If I put my time into that, I could have millions.  But that bores me.  I’d rather be out there gaining XP for mashing through dozens of enemies.  It’s what the game wants you to do.

One of the biggest complaints about the first game was that the story — well, there wasn’t much of one.  And there wasn’t much of an ending.  If you’re reading this and haven’t played the first game, then leave your computer and go buy it.   But in the end of the first one, after being teased about opening the vault the whole game, you find out the vault wasn’t a treasure, it was an ancient evil monster.  Well, it’s kind of the same thing this time, but you already know that the vault contains and ancient evil, that if opened, will destroy the planet of Pandora.

However, Handsome Jack, the game’s antagonist, doesn’t know this and thinks if he opens the vault he’ll be able to control this evil.  And of course, like all bad guys, he’s wrong, ha ha!  Way wrong!  After the success of the General Knoxx DLC for the first game with the Crawmerax, the Invincible boss fight (which is still one of my favorites, I mean, come on, the mission was titled “You. Will. Die.”),  Gearbox decided to have the final boss in the sequel be similar so we get Terramorphous the Invincible, who is a bad ass.  By the way, this mission is called “You. Will. Die. (Seriously.)”, which I thought was a great throwback to that great DLC.

The boss, really, the whole game, was meant for 4 players playing co-op, but this boss was meant for 4 players who are level 50, which is the capped level for now (the achievement/trophy reveals higher level caps in future DLC).  But there are ways to build your character in the game where you will be able to solo this boss, some builds allow you to do it with ease.  And you can fight him however many times you want, because when you kill him, he drops loot and sometimes it’s pretty damn good loot, too.

I just literally can’t stress enough how much I love this game.  I recently got my brother-in-law into Borderlands with the Playstation Plus deal offering the game free to subscribers and he said to me, and I quote “I wish I had gotten into this game soon, because I am hooked!”  Then, I informed him that after playing the second one, it would be a big downgrade for me to go back to the first game.  And I honestly feel that way.  I LOVED the original game, but this game surpasses it in literally every way!  And the fact that Gearbox made this game so they can add other classes int he future, like the announced Mechromancer Class DLC that’s coming, means this game has infinite replay-ability. I’ve already managed 2 of the 4 classes with my original Zer0(Assassin) class at the maxed level 50, and my Maya (Siren) class at 24.  And I look forward to getting all 4 characters up to level 50 (and beyond with the DLC), and then doing the same with the new DLC class, the Mechromancer, and really any of the DLC classes they release.

I love the gameplay, the story, the characters, the amazing humor (like a sign on the outhouse that reads “Dook Hut, No Fapping!”).  I’m a big fan of the humor in this game.  They also brough in a new writer for this sequel in Anthony Burch, who is of course from the very popular “Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’?” series on the internet.  And his humor shines through, as well as his sister Ashly Burch providing the voice of the Tiny Tina character (the funniest character in the game this side of Claptrap).

One big change I noticed right away that I didn’t like much was the new money system.  Back in the original game, money was never really an issue.  Spend 15 mins farming safes and looting chests to sell the items and you had enough money for anything in the game pretty much.  Especially on play-through number two.  I was opening safes and getting over $5000 in one money pile.  The same cannot be said for this game.  Sure, later in the game, you earn more from safes in the ending areas, but when you start out, the first 10 areas you can go to in the story, you’re going to open safes and only get maybe $2-30.  And some of the better guns you’ll sell only net you about $500.  There were guns in the early stages of Borderlands 1 that I was selling for over $15,000.  And to top it off, the pre-order bonus of the Golden Gearbox Guns absolutely suck, aside from the Sniper.

The gun you get when you start the game was better than the pistol I got from my pre-order.  Shouldn’t a pre-order exclusive gun be the better option than the one the game makes you start with?  I would think so, but no, it was awful.  So awful I sold all of them aside from my sniper rifle at the first vending machine.  That’s really all that pissed me off — oh wait, no it isn’t.  Well, kind of, because this next tidbit pissed me off more than anything but I didn’t blame the game so much as myself.  The difficulty at points in this game will spike on you SO DAMN MUCH that you have no choice but to go grind.  There were points in this game, for example, the mission titled “Dam Fine Rescue”, where you’ll start the mission out and be doing fine.  I was doing great.  I made it  through the first area just fine, didn’t need any second winds at all.  Made it to the first boss (thought that was it at the time), whooped his ass, and continued on.

By the way, a side note, the story missions in this game can sometimes last over an hour in total.  They are long as hell, so only do story missions if you have time to play for a while.  Anyway, I make it to a point in the mission where they want me to take out this giant robot, while he spawns dozens of other robots, and has like the greatest shield in the entire game because I’m blasting him with a shotgun that on other enemies, never takes more than two shots.  And this giant robot is my equal level.

It shouldn’t have taken me all my rocket ammo, all my shotgun ammo, pistol ammo, machine gun ammo, SMG ammo, dozens of melees (which I dumped a lot of skill points into), to defeat this robot.  Maybe if he was like three levels above me, I’d be like “Alright, this is gonna be a tough SOB to fight!”, but not when we’re the same level.  Anyway, the difficulty can spike HARD in this game, so be careful of that.  You might head into a mission with over $25,000 and end up with less than $3,000 at the end of it — yes, that happened to me.

In conclusion, let’s go over some bullet points here:

+ The new story is amazing and I look forward to playing it again and again with new classes!

+ Skill Trees are far better than they were, making it much easier to build up a certain class style.

+ Co-op is still as beast as ever!

+ The humor that we all loved from the first game returns and is better than ever!

- Money system is just not forgiving enough when the difficulty can spike and make you lose thousands on a mission.

Borderlands 2 gets a 9/10 from me, and is definitely a high contender for the Game of the Year!