The constant barrage of firefights, sparked simply by passing a raider’s camp, will leave a player shell-shocked. Adversaries constantly taunt him with strings of profanities, bullets and sharp implements that a “Holy Grail” fan would appreciate.
It’s an uncomfortable and brutally bloody existence where blowing up a midget with a shotgun, melting a bruiser in an exploded acid barrel, immolating a Goliath and dicing a masked psycho tossing axes are commonplace.
The action throughout exists in a cell-shaded, animated universe built to look like a living comic book from Joe Madureira’s evil doppelganger. It’s a stunning sandbox to slaughter that’s not for the squeamish — those shocked by the gooey gore can actually turn it off in the game’s options.
While in the midst of battle, death often can be avoided thanks to a second-chance health revival delivered to the hunter who can kill when he is prone on the ground and most vulnerable.
When the ultimate finality does occur, it’s not a big deal. Dole out a chunk of cash and take a trip through the Hyperion Personal Reconstruction System, which places the player at his last checkpoint.
Additionally, a more complex skill tree arrives for each character that offers skill points through leveling up and gives many variations for a player to build his powers. (Zer0, for example, can use shots that pierce through enemies or eventually throw a handful of exploding kunai.)
I took an immediate liking to conquering the more than 100 Badass Challenges that reward players with tokens to increase attributes such as health, melee attacks and shield recharge rate.
Overall, my return to Pandora was not only addictive, but the many hours played apparently remain memorable.
I realized I had been playing Borderlands 2 too long while driving to work and spotting a group of large crows in the distance that resembled the game’s flying Rakk. My first thought was to wonder what fringe group was being attacking and did I need to pull out my Smooth Peacemaker (Dirty Harry grimace) and shoot them down.
Perhaps the game’s biggest saving grace, while caught in this chronic collecting and cashing-in war, is the return of a seamless four-person cooperative mode.
Friends and new online acquaintances can struggle to survive (using weapons that have been unlocked and collected by each), ride aboard vehicles together (driver, gunner and passengers who can use their weapons) and chuckle at some of their hilarious predicaments.
By the way, the enemies are even fiercer and in larger supply for the team.
However, in this day of epic multiplayer shooters, it’s unbelievable the sequel has not evolved down the paths of Call of Duty or Halo.
Borderlands 2 is definitely a game to get lost in for hours at a time and will satisfy the primordial urges of the perpetually teenage male.
An acquaintance I helped early on, the robotic-armed Sir Hammerlock, said it best in reminding me of the ultimate, stress-relieving joy on Pandora: “Things need to be shot and, by jove, you’re the one to shoot them.”