I’m really late to the game on this one as well, but I am finally getting into Borderlands (2). I played the first installment much closer to its release, and was not impressed. While the mechanics where compelling, I need more than a good replay structure to draw me into a game.
The sequel succeeds for me where the first game failed. While the story is pretty basic and generic, it is much more prominent in the early levels than in the first Borderlands. There is just enough there to draw me in, thus allowing me to enjoy the mechanics, loot system, and varied play-style of the classes – all things fairly uncommon to my experience in first person shooters.
Now that I am enjoying myself, I can confidently say that Gearbox has successfully blended the RPG and FPS genres into a single cohesive experience, and one that truly shines in multi-player, particularly with a variety of classes/builds.
I just finished my first play-through as the Assassin Zero. While I started the game going down the Sniper tree, because that felt like the logical thing to do in a shooter, I have had my sights on the Cunning tree for some time. I have yet to experiment with it, however, as it seems to be only optimal once you can reach so far.
I did find the time to respec into Bloodshed, the Assassin’s melee tree. I must say that while a singular melee attack here and there can be common in a First Person Shooter (particularly for close-quarters stealth kills), building a character to maximize their melee capability so much seems like an odd thing.
However, after having spend some time in Bloodshed (and having farmed up a decent Law from the Sheriff), I am really enjoying the play-style. This build definitely shines more when playing multi-player, but even while solo it is fairly strong – due to the large amount of self healing if you spend your points properly.
While I truly enjoyed the first play-through, and am looking forward to my next, as well as multiple DLC’s, I feel like I have to say something about the final boss battle. Now this game has been out for a while, but I will try to avoid spoilers best I can…
The final boss fight is an interesting concept, but unfortunately it sacrifices game-play in order to provide you with this ‘different’ experience. As you are trapped in first-person view of your character, fighting something as large as the final boss, in a fairly small space, is more frustrating than challenging – and more annoying than impressive.
I did eventually find a place where I could melee, as I was playing Bloodshed at the time, but this didn’t really add much enjoyment to the experience as I spent the remainder of the encounter running around attacking (and only being able to see) the boss’s feet.
Mass Effect had a few boss battles that broke the norm (as most of BL2′s bossfights are just shootouts). I can understand the appeal, and the desire to do something different, I just think that Gearbox missed the mark here. Even if the boss itself were to stay the same, the environment could easily be tweaked to still present the same challenges, without being nearly as frustrating.
More to come…