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Borderlands 2, or how to make a proper sequel

Oh, man. After playing the almost complete dud of a game that was the original Borderlands last month and feeling that belt sanding my moles and freckles off would have been a more entertaining alternative, I’m happy to report that Borderlands 2 addressed nearly every issue I had with its predecessor and increased the quality by at least 1,000%. Dude – this one was actually fun! I can’t believe it!

Well, actually, yes I can. This series has turned into a multimedia franchise and that couldn’t have been based on the liquid fart that was the first game. One of them had to be good for that to happen, right? I’m just glad the series has already improved this much in just one game.

Just about every complaint I had about the first installment of the series was addressed in this game. The glitchy, frustrating driving segments that made my blood pressure spike in the first game are actually fun this time around, despite the only obvious changes being a new vehicle, more enemy variety, and, most importantly, some much needed polish. Speaking of enemy variety – this game has that! Where the first game shoved so many skags down my throat that I wanted to vomit, skags are actually pretty scarce in the second game and replaces them with bugs, robots, sandworms, soldiers, six-armed apes, etc. Plus, each of these enemies require different tactics to beat them. And, while I’m on the subject of variety, the environment isn’t just a bunch of trash deserts anymore! There are so many types of environments in this game that no theme is repeated more than a couple of times. In fact, some of them are kind of unique. I don’t know I’ve ever explored an acid swamp factory in a game before…

In fact, this game even improves the first game by fleshing out my favorite part of the original Borderlands: its enticing, though severely minimal, story. Without going into too many spoilers, it turns out that what seemed like an innocent treasure hunt in the first game was actually orchestrated by a sociopathic power-hungry narcissist and the players actions actually led to the devastation of the planet that can be seen in Borderlands 2. On top of that, the main characters from the first game return, this time with actual personalities that make them interesting.

Basically, this is a sequel that is so good that it made the original better.

It’s not a perfect game, even though I’m making it sound like it is. I wish I had gotten to know the villain better throughout the game than I did. I think he could have ended up being one of my favorite villains of all time if the writers had just fleshed him out a bit more. I also had the feeling while I was playing that it was taking a really long time to finish the game – and then I did the math and realized beating Borderlands 2 took roughly three times as long as it took to beat Borderlands 1. I don’t know whether to attribute that to bloat or my own expectations for the length based on the first game, but it did affect my experience, either way.

Still, if you’re at all interested in this series, you need to play this one. Actually, you should just start the series with this one. Skip the first one and read a wiki or something to get up to speed on the story.

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