Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Return to Pandora

So it's been a while since I last enjoyed a sci-fi themed RPG, especially since there aren't that many to begin with (and even less are actually playable). I'd say the first Borderlands game caught my eye because I'm such a sucker for cel-shaded graphics. Unfortunately, I didn't feel like finishing it because the game seemed like too much of the grind after the first few missions.

Hence, I was skeptical when my brother bought Borderlands 2 for the PS3. After all, why play a game that occurs in the exactly the same setting with similar mechanics featuring characters almost resembling those in the first game?

Like the first game, I was once again persuaded by the art style to give the series another shot. This time though, I was hooked and would most likely see the game to its end.

This is probably because gameplay felt more realistic than in the first. The game's enemies could be beaten with less ridiculous amounts of bullets, which was my main gripe about the first game. This was evident in co-op mode as well, whereas in the first game it would take quite a bit of time clearing a room full of enemies because the game adjusted their statistics disproportionately.

It seems that the game's use of the RNG was tweaked to be in favor of the players. I noticed that there were more item drops that were actually useable and not just shop fodder. This favors the players since it seems like different situations require different loadouts.

Another thing of note is that different enemies employ different tactics against the player. I guess the developers wanted it to seem like the AI adapts to the player's style. Instead, what actually happens is that the game is pretty good at generating combinations of enemies that could overwhelm an overconfident player. Players could find themselves pinned down by riflemen hiding behind shielded enemies, while weaker foes rush the player for melee or suicide attacks.

All in all, I think Gearbox took Borderlands' strong points and improved upon it in the second game. There's a general notion among gamers that when developers release a sequel, it's often a dumbed down version so that it would be more accessible to the casual audience.

This isn't the case in Borderlands 2, and the return to Pandora is definitely a treat.

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