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back to article Borderlands 2 review

Loot and shoot, shoot and loot: Borderlands 2 in a proverbial nutshell. Thank goodness then that it’s looting and shooting of the highest order, as another intrepid gang of vault hunters get tooled up and head into the wastelands, with the lure of untold wealth at the forefront of their minds. Borderlands 2 Crash and carry …

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Facepalm

Yay! Gender roles!

I do love it when a choice of sex determines whether you get to mix it up with guns or if you get tricksy psychic powers and a support role. Siren, huh? And the male roles are called what... the hunk? The gigolo?

Other than that, looks like a nice game.

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FAIL

Re: Yay! Gender roles!

Yay! Stupid comment!

If you know nothing about the game it's probably best to leave your bandwagon sexist stance at home. The Siren gets perhaps the most powerful skill in the game. Being able to Phaselock an enemy up for a few seconds is very useful and I play a Siren as I have done since the first game. However, it does not stop you from wielding guns and the class / character you pick has no relevance on that either. Any character can wield any weapon, level permitting.

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Re: Yay! Gender roles!

Having played all classes in B1 (and started a Siren class in B2), I much prefer Sirens, to that point that my son hated playing with me in Co-Op in B1, as my siren could wipe EVERYTHING out (Combustion hellfire SMG FTW!!) before he generally had a chance to fire...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yay! Gender roles!

Greetings from Lake Woebegone, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average.

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FAIL

Re: Yay! Gender roles!

You mean a class has a play style? Oh my god, call the internet police.

Stupidity aside, If you knew anything about borderlands then you would know that each character generally has a best fit weapon or two. The siren lends herself to anything elemental in borderlands 2, sub machine guns generally work out better because of the rate of fire and low reload time, this is because it applies the elemental affect as a percentage chance with each bullet, she has a class mod to reflect this with submachine gun damage+ but likewise i've seen some players using a nice elemental sniper build with her using a + %age element chance and +%age element damage given her bonuses to critical hits and base gun damage it makes her quite an adept sniper (all be it with scope drift).

If any character is actually locked into 1 set of guns i'd say it was Zero, he seems to only really be able to use (with any sort of ability) sniper rifles, pistols and melee. I think he is possibly the most limited class and does rely heavily on this ambush ability. But of course, yeah, it could all be about sexism/gender roles, of course it could.

Of course the siren does heal but then, wasn't it mainly Roland who did the healing in borderlands 1 with his turret? Yeah, i rest my case.

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Inventory fatigue

I really hate games where you end up with so loot that by midway through the game you spend a substantial amount of time just moving items around in your backpacks trying to free up slots and deciding which to sell / junk / recycle.

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Boffin

Re: Inventory fatigue

you see I'm the opposite, making me put some thought into my inventory management and what I'm carrying is a major selling point and one of the many reasons I find the original Deus Ex infinitely replayable.

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Re: Inventory fatigue

The thing is the original Deus Ex made it an interesting problem. It had a fantastic interface optimised for mouse input in which you could drag and drop and arrange your weapons and inventory items in a grid, and the choices really came down to the guns and ammo you could carry that had a huge role on how you played the game.

In Borderlands you had one of the worst possible interfaces ever designed, optimised for an XBox controller, with no attempt made to facilitate mouse navigation (often you were not allowed to click on buttons, you had to press a certain key, and the mouse wheel would not scroll anything). You had to use the cursor keys, press E, X, Enter, Page Up and other awkward keys to accomplish things. Scrolling (with the keyboard) was nearly always required because the menus had to be big enough to be viewed on low resolution TV screens.

Furthermore the problem of inventory management was not an interesting problem in Borderlands. You picked up a new weapon every few enemies and this required comparison with all the weapons currently in your inventory if you wanted to make an informed decision of which weapon to drop to make room for it. You couldn't view all the weapons at a glance, it was just a list that you had to scroll with cursor keys and frustratingly navigate with the keyboard. It was a chore. It fatigued you, particularly mid to end game, and made you not want to play.

It was even worse after a break because you would forget which of the weapons in your inventory (out of potentially millions) were the ones you wanted to save, so when you pick up new ones (or if there were some you had intended to sell when you got to a shop) you would need to spend a lot of time looking through the inventory to determine which shouldn't be sold.

I've not played Borderlands 2 yet but I can only hope that:

a) better interface with more of an attempt to optimise for PCs with mouses

b) inventory fatigue is less of an issue

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Facepalm

Re: Inventory fatigue

You can use the mouse wheel now! But the inventory screen is still pretty awful. You have to click between two columns (one for equipped and one for backpack), both of which are pretty narrow.

See image for an example: http://www.notebookcheck.net/typo3temp/pics/0534626633.jpg

There is a dedicated key for comparing items, but it's not that intuitive, to me. It'd be far better to have both columns available for clicking/hovering-over on one screen, without having to click between the two.

The same kind of layout exists for the skill trees. I spent a good few hours thinking that each character only had two skill trees in this one before I realised that the default screen for skills shows the central tree, with a tree off screen to either side. Again, that makes comparing the skills needlessly difficult.

Interface issues aside, it's a fun game.

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Re: Inventory fatigue

In B2 you can tag weapons in your inventory with a star to denote them as faves (ie. keep) or a red x (to denote junk). When you get to a vendor machine and select "sell" you can hit Delete to sell all items that have a red x next to them.

So that's an improvement over B1.

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Re: Inventory fatigue

Yeah I finally bought it. The menu is an improvement over the original. As you said, you can use the mouse wheel, and clicking on things actually does something. It could be a lot better though. You can tell it's designed for a console and then they've attempted to port it to a mouse.

I also didn't see the 2 skill trees to the sides and that you have to switch between them by clicking an arrow. I can imagine that being intuitive with a directional controller on a console and allows them to cram more on the screen, but it makes navigating the menus a little bit harder for PC users. It would be much better if you could see an overview of everything on the screen and just click on stuff.

The inventory is much better. Just clicking on something to compare items is much more intuitive, but when you want to click on an item in the backpack it would be nice if you didn't have to click the arrow to switch between equipped and backpack displays. Both are already visible it just partially obscures one, making it slightly more cumbersome.

Overall though everything has been improved compared to the first one. It's a much better game. The only bad thing is the maps seem to be more labyrinthine and there seems to be less fast travel points and you don't respawn at the same location when you return to the game. It's a strange way of doing it because it forces the player to walk through previous areas and we know they could have done it differently because fast travel is in the game and in the first game you returned to the last save location. Additionally after completing missions or side missions it makes you walk all the way back through previous areas, which was totally unnecessary detracts from the fun.

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Anonymous Coward

Any chance of screen grabs from the actual game, rather than renders?

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Pics

Here's two I made earlier, Chris.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/31349295/pix/B2/2012-10-01_00007_e.jpg

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/31349295/pix/B2/2012-10-01_00008.jpg

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They are screen shots

The technique of cell-rendering has been around fora while- think the spaceship in Futurama. It has been used in video games for a fair while too... first, IIRC, on a Playstation racing game.

The reviews says, at the very top, that this was tested on the PS3. I saw my mate playing this game on his XBOX360 last week, and it didn't look dissimilar.

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Re: They are screen shots

Although the game does use a cartoon style, the pics in the article are not screen shots - they're artists impressions. The look and feel is subtly different to the in-game shots like the ones I posted.

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Re: They are screen shots

My bad, I did look and compare pictures before I posted, but as you say the difference is subtle.

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Re: They are screen shots

'It has been used in video games for a fair while too... first, IIRC, on a Playstation racing game.'

I think it was 'Jet Set Radio' (fond memories) on Dreamcast that got there first.

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Anonymous Coward

"Any chance of screen grabs from the actual game, rather than renders?"

I don't think the register does that...EVER. I think they just use whatever images come with the media pack provided by the game publisher's marketing people.

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Mushroom

Silly question time..

Why is the Games section in RegHardware and not Software ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Silly question time..

Best guess- games go with consoles and consumer gadgets and not with productivity applications. Just trying to think if I've ever seen a Reg review of non-gaming software, though...

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Anonymous Coward

Sillier question

did the reviewer play this, or just pad out the released-to-press images with minimal info grabbed from back of the box and BL2 website?

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Re: Sillier question

You give the impression that you only read the first page of the review, which established the background and the rough gist (like the back of the box might). The second page of the review is more critical:

"[weapon management is] not particularly exciting for the rest of us."

" revisiting the same areas you've already blasted through."

"car getting terminally stuck mid-way through a long journey on more than one occasion."

"an irksome loot system"

On the internet, you know where to find a second - or umpteenth- opinion on this game before parting with your money.

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Re: Sillier question

Either way, they didn't proof-read their copy.

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The killer for me with Borderlands 2 was not being able to load a saved game and get back to where you were - you respawn at the nearest fast travel point, and have to make your way back through areas you've already been (and have to kill the same enemies again).

Not great when you have only small chunks of time to play the game in, and might not want to do a whole mission at a time.

I'm really surprised that this is hardly mentioned anywhere in reviews of B2.

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Yes, I agree. This is one of the most annoying aspects of the game - it's not something you can dip into and you have to be able to set aside time to play it.

Other than that it's brilliant though - really good fun and a good sense of humour too.

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Meh

Agreed, but once defeated, the boss areas aren't exactly the same as before. For example, you can just run through Boom Bewm's area to the next one. (The barrier is no longer there.) But yeah, definitely annoying to have to re-traverse 3/4 of a zone. I thought it was a bug when I didn't start at save/respawn points I logged off next to.

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Thumb Up

3D anyone?

The first real game that I've played which is worth the Nvidia 3D system - the graphics and 3d engine are superb. A CS:S / CS:Go player mainly I wasn't sure I was going to like the cartoon characters and RPG type play (from screenshots looked too TF2 stylie).

However, I can honestly say it's one of the best games I've ever played and would recommend it to anyone who likes FPS/RPG with a simple online co-op engine (as long as you've got a half decent rig). There's something strangely satisfying when you manage to kill a huge robot with a single powered up nade and your shout over the mic to your mate "Did you see that ?!".

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Trollface

because I missed the review of the first one

Woot Borderlands. Think Fallout but less fun.

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Re: because I missed the review of the first one

The comparison to Fallout is ludicrous.

BL is a FPS with some RPG elements. and more importantly it allows you to play with a friend or three.

Perhaps your problem is you don't have any friends.

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Pint

Re: because I missed the review of the first one

My friends and I generally don't hang out online but more in the pub. I generally find most people online are only good for calling nub pugs when they go like 3 kills and 15 deaths. My main problem is I don't like me too mediocre fps shooters.

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Anonymous Coward

i tried borderlands on steam with a free weekend and i couldnt help but to think how crappy it was, its basically what you buy the children who cant handle realistic fps games yet.

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I rather think you are missing the point of the game if you think that.

It's not meant to be realistic; it's meant to be a laugh. And it is one - a brilliant one.

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