by A.J. Coltrane
Recommended Game: Borderlands 2
Borderlands 2 is a first person shooter set in a futuristic Mad Max/ Western/ The World Is Running Down setting. It’s a high tech wasteland where the toilets don’t usually work. It’s sort of Halo mixed with equal parts Diablo II.
Why I like it:
The Diablo series is famous for its variable loot drops. When defeated, almost every enemy drops loot which may or may not be useful. Every opponent is a potential loot pinata! “What’s going to drop this time?! How will it work with what I already own?!”
Borderlands appoximates this by dropping shields, other goodies, and lots and lots of guns. Bazillions of guns. The guns themselves are collections of a scope, stock, magazine, etc — about seven pieces in all. Each piece of the gun is randomly generated, then all are combined to create the final weapon stats. There are guns that do corrosive damage and fire damage guns and explosive damage guns. There are wildly different fire rates and magazine sizes and damage outputs. The guns often handle *very* differently from one another, so you’ll want to use a different gun for each situation, which is fine. You can equip *four* of them and toggle through them as needed. (Plus another 18ish backpack slots for the other good situational candidates that you just can’t *bear* to sell.)
There are Diablo-style RPG elements to Borderlands 2 as well. As your character levels it gets more powerful and gains helpful special abilities, such as: “Your fire rate is increased by 20% for a few seconds after killing an enemy.” or “Your turret emits a small nuclear blast when deployed.” The leveling means that you outgrow your beloved guns over time, necessitating the constant search for more. You’ll say to yourself — “I need a corrosive sniper rifle for when we’re shooting at robots that are a long way away!” or “I need an explosive damage bullet hose with a huge magazine for crowd control!” Of course, those are just dreams. What actually drops may or may not be exactly what you had in mind, but will it “do”?
Borderlands features split-screen co-op too, so there can be much discussion of who has what, and how do we share to optimize our survivability? “Is your second-best fire damage submachine gun better than mine? Does that shotgun better suit your abilities and playstyle, or mine?” Splitscreen is totally the way to go, the game almost begs for it.
Borderlands 1 is a great game, but the enemy AI is better in Borderlands 2. The enemies are “smarter” in 2 because they don’t just sit still when they’re getting shot at; they’ll duck, roll, or run to another cover, making them a lot more challenging to hit. They also “patrol” when they spawn, rather than just standing there — no more “If I stand here I can head-shot that sentry over there before he can act.”
To sum up: Borderlands has a fun foul-mouthed sense of humor, and the Bazillions of guns makes for some addictive gameplay and lots of replayability. And it’s fun!