Borderlands 2 isn’t a game to be played alone. While it’s a perfectly competent single-player experience, to make the most out of this ludicrous role-playing-game-cum-shoot-‘em-up then enlisting an additional three gun-toting maniacs is a fundamental necessity.
It’s rare for a co-op mode to feel anything other than a throwaway supplement, but Borderlands 2 integrates it in such a way that it’s near essential. Alongside obvious advantages when it comes to completing missions and tackling enemies, crucially extra players increase the amount of loot dropped. It doesn’t sound like much incentive, but Borderlands 2’s compulsive design entices players to battle onward with the alluring promise of richer rewards – more money, more ammo and, yes, many more guns.
Regrettably the story fails to compel players forward in quite the same gripping manner. Set some five years after the end of its predecessor, Pandora is now governed by charismatic despot Handsome Jack, who has claimed ownership of the Vault and its contents. It’s a rather paper-thin premise that remains borderline arid, until some second act twists accelerate the story in the latter hours of the game. Jack himself proves a laudable, formidable antagonist, goading the player on frequent basis over comms, which does much to paper over the cracks in pacing.
Pandora itself is a hugely inviting location. Imposing at an initial glance, you’ll soon be driving around the dusty plains, icy peaks and picking up quests in hub-town Sanctory. It’s populated with a likewise assorted mix of enemy types, but there’s some dubious logic to their AI – certain enemies leave few defensive options, forcing an over-reliance on luck to survive.
It’s a minor niggle however when you consider the wealth of content available, and the best of which only becomes available once you’ve finished the game. Unlocked upon completion, the True Vault Hunter mode introduces new enemies and better guns to an arsenal that already ought to make Call of Duty blush. Needless to say, it’s a game that requires a serious investment, but one that also pays dividends in return. Just make sure you invite a few friends to reap the benefits.
Reviewed by Bryan Murray