Gaming & Technology

'Borderlands 2': Invite your friends to play

It's easy to get addicted to the competition for the best loot in Borderlands 2. Play it with those you love to humiliate the most.
It's easy to get addicted to the competition for the best loot in Borderlands 2. Play it with those you love to humiliate the most. Photo courtesy Games Press

No, your Herald-Leader delivery person did not accidentally give you a newspaper from September. Yes, this is a review of a five-month-old game.

Before you stop reading and use this page to line your birdcage (or, more likely, tab over to for more up-to-date video game coverage), let me explain. If I had reviewed Borderlands 2 when I bought it, I wouldn't have recommended it.

My opinion has since changed radically.

That's because two of my friends recently got the game, and we started playing online together this month. To quote Star Wars' Obi-Wan Kenobi, "from a certain point of view," I hadn't really played the game until I played it with friends.

Enlisting buddies to fight cooperatively through the violent wastelands of the planet Pandora transformed Borderlands 2 from a boring single-player slog to a shamefully addictive pastime.

The series combines the principles of dungeon crawlers like Diablo with the mechanics of first-person shooters like Halo. There's a cohesive story that plays out as you complete mission after mission, but you'll likely ignore it as you pursue the game's real goal: get loot.

Like Diablo, you collect weapons, shields and equipment from fallen enemies and from chests and barrels strewn throughout the world. Item drops are completely random, so you never know what you're going to get until you pick it up.

That is why I didn't appreciate Borderlands 2 as a single-player endeavor. My opinion about games like Diablo is controversial among gamers — they bore me. I prefer a good story to an endless quest to power up your character.

But as I said, my opinion changed when my friends joined. Suddenly, I wasn't looking for good loot just for the sake of it. I was looking for good loot to get stronger than them.

Multi-player is cooperative, but snagging high-level equipment before your buddies provides a deliciously subtle layer of competition. Often, you'll find yourselves racing to pick up a gun dropped by a particularly tough enemy.

Or, if you're anything like the opportunistic cowards I call my friends, you'll leave your compatriots to die at the hands of said enemy while you scout the level for hidden treasure chests.

Once I was engrossed in the endless hunt for better loot, I started to appreciate the game's mathematical approach to weapon design. There are literally millions of weapons in the game because Borderlands 2 randomizes features. Stats like damage dealt, magazine size and rate of fire are different for each gun you pick up.

The system sometimes creates silly contradictions, like a shotgun that advertises the ability to "fire as fast as you can pull the trigger" but only fires once before requiring a reload. But, for the most part, the weapons have a hand-crafted feel, and the quality of the designs leads to a real sense of excitement each time you get a new one.

While the plot won't be the focus of hardcore players, the story is entertaining thanks to a sometimes clever, sometimes juvenile script. Characters and voice acting range from hilarious to hilariously annoying, but all characters you meet in the game are unforgettable.

If you're the type of gamer who has friends — or the type who likes playing online with strangers who will throw you to the sharks at every opportunity — Borderlands 2 is a worthy investment with loads of content.

Just keep in mind there's little value to single player — unless you're a stat nerd or playing to level up your character for your next online outing.


'Borderlands 2'

About: Explore the harsh, violent and hilarious world of Pandora as a group of warriors seeking a long-hidden treasure trove of unlimited power.

Players: Single, multi-player

Pros: The quest for loot gets mighty addictive when you're competing with friends. There's nothing quite like the feeling of making your best friend feel bad about himself because you found a gun that makes his look like a pea shooter.

Cons: Playing alone is a bore, and playing with strangers is hit-or-miss. Also, the joke-riddled storyline is clever, but sometimes too juvenile for my taste.

Availability and price: $59.99 on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.

ESRB rating: M

Manifesto's rating: 8/10 (PS3)

Metacritic rating: 9.1/10 (PS3)

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