You wanted more and Gearbox deliver--once again--with the sequel to the original Borderlands released in 2009. Pandora has been waiting for its vault hunters to return and there is even more hijinks, hilarity, and challenges facing new and older players alike.
Borderlands 2 introduces four new characters (Vault Hunters) as they battle against Bandits, Psycos, and numerous other enemeies, and ultimately the CEO of the Hyperion Corporation, Handsome Jack. Evil, amazing, and charming, Handsome Jack has taken over Pandora and has plans of his own, like awakening an acient alien evil simply titled "the Warrior". The Vault Hunters--Maya, Salvador, Axton, and Zero--are the ones to stop him. The newbies will join up with old favorites from the first game, such as the oriignal four Vault Hunters (Roland, Lilith, Brick, and Moredecai), and will come across other characters along the way, as well.
When starting up Borderlands 2, the game doesn't give a difficulty choice. There is no Easy, Normal, Hardcore, or Insane modes. The game simply is. Combat can escalate quickly if rushing into an area with a lot of enemies, which could become a problem for noice players, even some veterans who have not played Borderlands in some time could find himself or herself overwhelmed. Instead of getting lost in the shoot, skill, loot cycle, the game has downtimes between quests. There are even moments where patience and strategy will get you to the next checkpoint in the story.
The combat is similar to other role-playing games where you watch the health bars of enemies slowly dip low and eventually die a horrible, usually melodramatic, death. What is really exciting to see is what kinds of loot the enemies may have dropped. those familiar with Psychology will recognize the effects of Skinner's positive reinforcement theory. This theory may bring up the warm and fuzzy feeling Diablo and Diablo II gave you while on magic-find runs (not so much with Diablo III).
As the characters traverse through the world of Pandora, they come across vast, brilliant, and lively new landscapes that were barely seen in the first game. The recently sabotaged Pandora in Borderlands 2 is colorful, with differing landscapes; you'll be seeing snow, sand (ugh, more desert!), or various patches of greenery throughout. Though it may not seem like much, sometimes the scenery will let you know what kind fo trouble you are getting yourself into.
Different evnironments also give the developers a chance to establish diverse characters and enemeies that you will encounter, which is definitely the case in this seuqel. The new classes replace the old by re-mastering Borderlands skills and cranking them up a notch, while keepign gameplay comfortably similar: The Commando replaces the soldier; Gunzerker becomes the dual-wielding version of the Berzerker; Siren is still Siren, but with slightly altered skills; and the all-new Assassin takes from all classes, but from the stealth standpoint. Having at least three friends who will fill in the missing roles helps if you want to jounrey through Pandora cooperatively.
A new feature added to Borderlands 2 is the "Badass Ranking" system that has in-game challenges that players can gauge and fill while completing the game's main quests and side quests. As each task is finished, you are awarded a token that can be spent on boosts, which range from weapon damage, additional health, elemental damage, and reload speed. This is just another way to experience the effects of operant conditionining (remember what I said about positive reinforcement?): The more you kill, the faster you complete a challenge, and the closer you are to allocating tokens to better your stats!
No game is perfect, however. Borderlands 2 still falters when it comes to customization, compared to other games in the role-playing genre. I sighed when I saw that the extent of what made my Siren mine was a different hairstyle and skin color scheme.
Borderlands 2 improves on what the first game lacked and adds more. From the Badass Ranking system to the new classes and guns, the game spews out plenty of content for players to enjoy over and over again. It does not hurt that you have four to choose from when deciding how you will take on the evil Handsome Jack. The dialogue and voice acting in the sequel is superb and does not get old while replaying the game, even if it is your third time (assuming each class's storyline is explored). Borderlands 2 brings to the playing field what many games have forgotten or will not even touch, which makes the love and praise surrounding the game genuine.