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Borderlands 2 - Weapons, Graphics and Gameplay
Borderlands 2 Weapons
With Borderlands 2 following a similar cycle to the original Borderlands offering, your survival still involves guns. A lot of guns. There were 17 million separate weapon combinations in the first game, and though there are no similar details yet for Borderlands 2 (Gearbox is claiming the number ’87 bazillion’ but we’re talking that with a pinch of salt), we’d be surprised if the number wasn’t similarly enormous. The game uses a system that randomises your weapon drops, so you have to find the right gun for you, rather than being able to customise it yourself.
Weapons come from a variety of makers and roughly suit different play styles. Jakobs weapons for example have a distinct Wild West feel to them, and will fire as fast as you can pull the trigger. By contrast, guns made by the Dahl Corporation are more often built for use at longer ranges, with semi-automatic firing and scopes.
Weapons can also come with elemental bonuses, including incendiary, frost and corrosive damage. These bonuses have particular usages – corrosive weapons are particularly effective against robots and armoured enemies for instance – but using an incendiary weapon against a fiery enemy is almost useless.
Borderlands 2 Graphics
The characteristic cell-shaded look of the original game makes a return for Borderlands 2, but the whole game looks infinitely better thanks to a much wider colour palette and a real variety of environments.
Initially you’re dropped into an arctic wasteland, where you’d be forgiven for thinking that the environments are as dull as the first game. But passing through this early portion of the game opens up the world of Pandora to you, and you’ll find it a whole lot more interesting to look at than it was three years ago, including lush, green highlands and sprawling urban areas. Unlike the original, the Pandora of Borderlands 2 now feels like a real world that you can explore.
We tested the Borderlands 2 Xbox 360 version, which ran very smoothly indeed, and displayed no frame rate issues or screen tearing. Given the intensity of the on-screen action, this is quite an achievement, and one that makes the fast-paced gun battles all the more fun.
Borderlands 2 Gameplay
Though Borderlands 2 is a first-person shooter by nature, the game is based around traditional RPG elements. You complete quests and kill enemies to earn loot and experience, which lets you level up, grow stronger and unlock new abilities.
In terms of items and abilities, it doesn’t feel like you can create an omnipotent character anymore. You will get stronger and more powerful as you gain experience, but choosing items often involves a real trade-off. For example, really powerful shields often decrease your total health, so if you come up against enemies armed with shock weapons (which are very powerful against shields), you’re automatically in a tough spot. The most powerful weapons often have severe downsides, allowing them to tear through your ammo reserves, or resulting in incredibly slow reload times.