Thursday, May 28, 2015

Borderlands 2

Like it's predecessor BorderlandsBorderlands 2 does not fail to keep players engaged. Right from the beginning, you are put in a place where the first Borderlands left off at, only 5 years later. You are being buried or dug up by Claptrap (who knows when it comes to that little robot) and he decides to name you his minion. This is just a touch of the strange humor that the game embraces as a whole. The placing of these strange little humor blurbs were pretty well done due to there never being a dull moment in the game. One minute you could be fighting and wondering why you were even there to begin with and the next you could be laughing from one of the commentaries or discussions you hear on your intercom device. At times it can come across as a morbid sense of humor but none-the-less, it will make most people laugh. The fights that take place are never tiring due to the variance in enemies or locations. The robots were the most annoying to me but they were still fun to fight only because I found it pleasing to hear their cries of defeat. When the humor lines and battles didn't cut it, the storyline that unfolded was decently made and placed.
The overall gameplay mechanics of the game were pretty similar to other first-person shooters that incorporate online team playing. This made the game easy to adapt to as well as a quick learning curve. If you played the first Borderlands, the mechanics are the same as before so there really wasn't a learning curve. There is a very smooth feel when one switches the weapons while on the go via mouse scroll button, a well as shooting and scoping. Another game that comes to mind with this type of "smoothness" is the Halo franchise. I'm 100% sure that there are numerous other games out there that accomplish this, I'm just naming one. Speaking of smooth feeling, the movement with the WASD and mouse is amazing. No matter what the sensitivity setting is, it performs as it should. When it comes to jumping, however, the movement is smooth but I'm not a fan of it. The delayed falling and the slow motion jumping is a little off-putting for me because it doesn't fit the other logistics. The game does take place on a world that is not Earth, so the gravity is most likely not the same as it is here, although the other items seem to be gravity compliant, such as the death of anything. This, however, doesn't break my enjoyment from the game. I believe that one of the reasons it was programmed as this was to provide further combat enjoyment while air-borne, plus it gives some extra time to think of immediate strategy needed to continue combat (or run). This leads into a dynamic where utilizing the extended jump can help a player take action, even if it serves as a means to get further away from battle.
Speaking of dynamics, one of the surprising results of the mechanics from Borderlands 2 deals with the driving. Since the previously mentioned gravity mechanic does play a part in the driving, some missions get "out of hand". Launching the car over cliffs, rolling the car, or even the occasional race which may or may not involve the game "chicken", this does provide some quality entertainment. This is more prominent when playing with others, either online with friends, pugs, or LAN parties. Even the solo player can be found doing various stunts with the car, including me. The feeling one gets from taking inner road-rage out in a game where nothing matters is always a great one. Just make sure to do it in game and not in real life boys and girls.
Borderlands 2 utilizes the traditional skill tree, but allows the player to delve a little into all three categories. Although the skill tree only progresses via allocated points into each category, the results can most definitely deliver. For me, I always ended up dropping a little into each category, but for a thorough analysis, I did drop all points into one category as well. Both ways shine through with their strong and weak points. Both Borderlands and Borderlands 2 had the option to do a duel in the game, at any point and any place. Both sides would have to consent and then the battle zone is created. The battle zone is fairly small for some duels, especially for the long ranged players. For example, I believe the gunzerker Salvador and Krieg the Psycho are better suited due to their skills when compared to Maya the Siren and Zero the Assassin. When I was in a duel as Maya, I was easily defeated by Salvador and Krieg but not Zero. I factor this into the skill traits that the particular player chose as well as both Salvador and Krieg are more melee and in-your-face characters while Maya and Zero are more death-at-a-distance. As my conclusion for this part, it's pretty well balanced in skills and their allocation.
The selection of weapons is surprisingly vast when compared to other games of this genre. There are the various manufacturer types (eight in total) such as the Tediore and the Hyperion, then there's the seven different types of guns such as pistol and rocket launcher, and finally there's the slight variances for the character levels. With all of these factored into the equation, there was a small chance a player would come into contact with the same exact gun during a game session. Something that I personally enjoyed was the use of Shift codes. These codes are given out during special events or for random days in which a player can open a specific chest in order to gain a pink or purple ranked weapon. These are usually very valuable and at times, better than what the player has equipped. In fact, there are applications for smartphones that keep track of these codes and offer them to players – even for a Windows phone user like me.
When doing a quick analysis between Borderlands and Borderlands 2, I have noticed some nice improvements. With the first game, it felt like a player was limited in customizations for game play such as key bindings and having the audio and visual put into a simple menu. With the second game, we can adjust the framerate and even have an auto detect settings option (amongst the other new options). When it comes to who you play with, Borderlands had LAN party, online, and single play while Borderlands 2 offers all of that plus matchmaking, online with friends, online with invites only, and offline. The audio and video are seperated in Borderlands 2, which provides a more personalized game session with all of the details in each category. The original Borderlands didn't have all of these options available.
The last part of my review consists of aesthetics in Borderlands 2. The cell-shading carried over from the original game to the sequel, and even to further game developments. The pleasing aspect of the cell-shading effect creates a sense of "fun" to be had, which is complemented with the storyline and various audio discussions. The original Borderlands had the traditional window box for the launcher while the sequal didn't (visually). Even though the window box still existed, the invisible parts created a more unique launcher window. This is furthered by having quick access to settings such as screen resolution and help options located right about the Play button. The final aesthetic I'd like to point out is that although the menu options all slide or "swoosh" from the right to the left, it isn't fully synchronized in looks. Some parts open a new, smaller window while others just changed the overall window. It still conveys the same feeling and ideals but the lack of 100% uniformity is a bit displeasing.
In the end, this game and the series it's in are nothing short of amazing. Although there are some minor details that could have been worked on or redone in a different matter, the overall gameplay is fairly enjoyable with a great storyline. The characters are very well thought out and almost believable with a hint of the creator's humor. The graphics are very fitting for the game itself and I believe that if given normal graphics such as seen in Gears of War or even Bioshock Infinite, it would have sold the game short.
If you want to see what the game is all about, here are some links: