I viewed the first Borderlands to be of so little value, to be so worthless, that it is the only game I threw in the trash. More specifically, I threw it into a ditch just outside of my childhood Kindergarten, which I walk past whenever coming home from school. That ditch only really existed to prevent flooding, by gathering excess sewage water and was likely an incredibly filthy place that I rolled around in regularly as a child. It also had these metal sewage gates that I always wanted to wander into, but I was too afraid of crocodiles to do so… Anyhow, I gave money to a Video Game Museum and was given Borderlands 2 was a reward. And despite having given it twenty hours about a year and a half ago, I decided that I would give the series a… fourth chance. However, I was only able to get about twenty-eight hours through the game before I hit my threshold and dropped the game like a backpack full of rocks, glad to be rid of it.
Borderlands 2 Review
Platforms: PC(Reviewed), Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Borderlands 2’s premise is pretty simple. A group of treasure hunters are told of a place where they can obtain all the money and weapons they could ever desire, but they get tangled up in a corporation’s plans to rob the world of Pandora of its natural resources, obtaining an ancient doohickey, and squashing out a resistance. If that seems like a very ham fisted description, it is only because of how little I ultimately cared about the stakes in the story, as no matter how much I tried to pay attention to it, the story seems like a separate entity from the game. Part of that is because everybody is incredibly indifferent to violence and death to the point where they openly laugh at it, and how the entire game is about perpetuating that bloodlust and combining it with greed for guns and dollars. I honestly do not have a problem with a society that views violence indifferently and killing as a fun act, but the story does not seem to have been constructed with that level of foresight or that idea in mind.
Taking the story that is there away from the game, however, I do see some merit in the writing and feel as if it could easily be quite humorous if separated from the game. Yet as a cohesive whole, the story did not jive well with me, and I cannot recall any line that caused me to crack a smile. It’s unnecessary either way, as Borderlands 2 is the type of game that works best when the only things you hear amidst the sound effects are the voices of your friends, or if you are going into the game by yourself, a podcast or predetermined series of songs.
Borderlands 2 is is very focused on repetition and going through the same motions of shooting a bunch of things in the face with procedurally generated guns. The music is negligible to the point where I pretty much did not notice its absence after disabling it, and I felt as if I needed to supply something else I enjoyed to be able to stomach the title’s monotony. It is not unlike a pinch of cinnamon in one’s gruel or a slice of butter on a slice of bread a day away from developing mold. However, compared to other acts I attempted to make more enjoyable through auditory based entertainment such as organizing files on my computer, updating spreadsheets, and traditional filing and folder assembly, playing Borderlands 2 was probably the least satisfying and most mundane.
I am aware of how lofty and, well, mean that claim is, but I truly did feel as I was chipping away at a mountain as I continued playing this title. The game maps alone are massive and seem to be a neverending variety of recolored meshes of tattered wastelands or withered industrial locations that are quickly forgotten in favor of a new area. New and better weapons are being constantly thrown at you, but due to the game’s weapon generation algorithm, it can be difficult to ever replace anything, increasing the feeling of stagnation as you keep seeing the exact same chunk of metal occupying the screen for hours on end. While every completed mission or level gained feels like a simple drop in the industrial sized bucket of progress due to how little is really gained from either. Levels don’t really change anything as their impact is more or less negligible despite how they can take hours to get, while money exists mostly to grow into more money and possibly purchase ammo. The only chance you have of getting a better piece of equipment than what you currently have is a “deal of the day” that is replaced every twenty minutes, but most of the times when I felt it may be better, they held some aspect that made the equipment worthless to me.
As for the minute to minute action, it is very simple. Shoot the animals, robots, or bandits who do not value their own lives, aim for the weak point, and occasionally mess with some elemental stuff, not that you will ever really get the chance to have your own arsenal of weapons to choose from given how elusive quality weapons are. It is certainly enough, but considering the only real variety comes in the form of cars that feel like they are made of styrofoam, the dull nature of these actions became incredibly apparent very quickly. That said, while simple, the game loves to include very steep difficulty spikes for seemingly no reason. Where you have to rely on an arsenal of outdated items as the game has yet to generate proper replacements. And to punish you for not having good enough gear, the game takes a chunk of your money as punishment for dying. I would have gladly put the game on baby mode if I had the option, but instead the difficulty is fixed, and the only reason why I got through most of the more troublesome encounters is thanks to my character’s class ability to summon an AI controlled party member.
It is irritating, has so little going for it that I was tempted to use the term “Borederlands” outside of the url for this post, and feels as if it was designed to offer just enough frustration for me to feel as if dropping it would be the coward’s way out. It encompasses a great load of things I have grown to detest amongst the AA gaming scene, with its great fixation on multiplayer, favoring of quantity over quality, and even a variety of very minor cosmetics that you can see, but need to purchase in order to use. The only saving graces I feel it deserve are how the repetitious action of shooting the gun feels good, despite how unsavory I feel saying such a thing, and it’s comic book inspired art style that unfortunately has an art direction that I feel often squanders its visual style. The characters can look lovely, but most of the world looks beyond disinteresting with their desire to look desolate, disheveled, and drab. So in conclusion, every time I have ever touched a Borderlands, it has been a terrible mistake. The series still houses elements that make me feel as if I should try and like it, making my dislike for it all the more upsetting on my end of things. However, with well over a hundred hours invested into the series, I have hopefully learned my lesson and will never touch this series, or probably anything made by Gearbox because of their other, very shady, projects. It is a monotonous, slightly rewarding grind that sucks up time I should have spent editing Danganronpa screencaps to remove spoilers… Or researching what computer parts I should buy for a PC I plan on building in a few months… Or doing a critical analysis of that trashy visual novel Gender Bender Twister Extreme… Or writing a glowing analysis for the delightful and dark visual novel Press-Switch… Or working on my third novel… Or feminizing my voice through vocal exercises… Pretty much anything is a better use of one’s time than playing with this wet hot street trash.