For those of you living in England at the moment, you’ll be aware of the incredibly varying change of weather we’ve been having. One day we’ll be living in shorts and t-shirts, trying to find as many excuses as possible to keep the fridge door open, and another day we’ll contemplate murdering anyone who touches the thing, whilst we wrap up in huge jumpers, avoiding the rainy spots when trying to nip to the shops.
Sporadic is the way, and anyone who has lived here for more than a year will be used to this. Apart from me it seems. However;,one seemingly dreary day I donned my thick jeans and heavy leather jacket to venture into London on what could only be described as one of the most beautiful days 2012 has seen, which had me sweating buckets, just to play Borderlands 2 and tell you my thoughts. The things I do for you people, eh?
Sitting down (on the leather sofas, FYI) to play the game was almost like a dream come true. Having been an avid Borderlands fan, seeing the Borderlands 2 preview trailer was nothing but pure excitement, and getting a chance to play the game first hand was even better. Being a pre-alpha build, we picked up the controller straight into a level that was full of skags wanting to burn your face off. Choosing the Gunzerker, I quickly sank all my talent points into the hefty damage soaking side and commenced battle.
As per usual, the game presented us with numerous challenges, in the form of monster waves, in which I had to work together with one of the Dev’s to fight through and come out the other side. Whilst on the surface it seems that Borderlands 2 presents much the same challenges as Borderlands, I quickly became aware that being tactical was vital in these scenarios. Running and gunning, even as the heavy, bullet eating tank, was wielding bad consequences.
Quickly learning to work in sync, my team mate and I began advancing through our level, a mixture of abandoned laboratory and overgrown wild mixed well together to create an eerie setting that had been overrun by wildlife. Each new challenge came around another corner, and the environment I found myself running around in was convincing, keeping the old comic book style, while still engaging myself.
The slight tweaks to the games’ systems do almost go unnoticed, but help a lot with the interface, such as the polished, slicker and quicker gun select system that didn’t feel as sluggish, or the skill tree system that pulls mainly from the first title, yet streamlines it, and allows for a clearer direction of each of the classes specific roles.
Alongside UI tweaks were environment and creature tweaks, including a range of new Skags that genuinely had me jumping back, getting anxious and figuring out how to beat them, as well as each of the levels really bringing in new elements such as strategic placing, and interactive pods that you can shoot or punch to gain more items. There was also a big focus (at least in this level) on using things placed around the level to give you an advantage; things such as gas canisters.
Whilst the game was still engaging enough, the build lacked a solid form of sound, and as such it felt slightly tarnished. The game included mood setting music but there was a distinct lack of voice acting and specific fight effects, and left it hard to give a full opinion. It did seem to follow the same structure of the first game, and if it does, then it probably won’t leave players worried.
With what I had to play, I was left feeling slightly disheartened. The level which had us engaging in believable combat, was incredibly linear, and felt incredibly restricting compared to the open world feel of Borderlands. The levels had us following distinct routes with very little variation to the paths and areas we could take, one part of the level even had us shooting down from a higher platform that almost felt like a rail shooter.
Overall, the game felt a lot like the first, with slight changes obviously having been made here or there, the very core of the game was identical. Borderlands was a winning formula, which left players feeling at home on Pandora, but we have Borderlands, and the memories which come with it, I want something different. Not alien, but something we can relate to yet form a different opinion on, a unique game in a familiar environment. That is, however, a personal opinion and if all you’re looking for is more of the same stuff then you’re going to be pretty happy with what Borderlands 2 is bringing to the table.
Much like the UK weather, the pool of upcoming games is just as sporadic and ever changing. One moment we have gems such as Journey bringing tears to the hardiest of CoD players, and the next we have incredibly dreary clones hitting our shelves that are literal remakes of what we’ve seen before. There is a large part of me that feels Borderlands 2 could fall into that latter category but there’s and even bigger part of me that wishes it doesn’t happen, but what was presented to us with this early build was Borderlands, with a ‘2’ slapped onto the end. Nothing I saw couldn’t have been created in a large DLC patch, with slight changes and added storyline.
Borderlands 2 deserves a lot more respect than that. My hope goes out that the main frame of the storyline lives up to a much higher expectation, and doesn’t attempt to churn out the same-old-same-old in an attempt to relive the former games magic. The next time I get a chance to sit down with the game, my hopes are that I get to see a lot more of the bulk, to see the differences between the first and the second games, and also not be wearing the thickest, most sun absorbing garment in my wardrobe.
Borderlands 2 is due for release on September 18th, 2012 in the US and a few days later, on September 21st, 2012, in the UK.