Ask me what I think about Borderlands 2 from Gearbox Software, and I’d tell you about its dubious, convoluted plot. I’d talk about a mind-boggling array of guns and loot. At no point, though, would I ever say I was ready to “joy puke” my face off, as the game box predicts players will do.
The sequel to the highly acclaimed 2009 Borderlands game goes on shelves Tuesday in Xbox 360, PS3 and PC versions for around $60. At that price point, the first-person shooter, published by 2K Games, inevitably invites comparisons with the Halos and Calls of Duty games already out and due to come in the next few weeks and months. Borderlands 2 falls short because it’s missing several key elements you need to have in a 2012 first-person shooter game – most notably, a rich multiplayer online mode. There’s an extremely limited four-player cooperative mode, and if you have an Xbox Live Gold account, you can team up that way, but this isn’t the type of deeply engrossing FPS game the headset-wearing COD crowds gather to play months and months after release. In comparison, I read on several sites that COD: Black Ops 2 will feature up to six teams, for a total of 18 simultaneous players, in multiplayer mode.
The game’s opening sequence reminds you that Borderlands’ developers chose to go the animation route, and I don’t like it very much. The game isn’t manga-like enough to be super-hip, so instead, it just feels cartoonish.
As a $30 impulse buy, priced about the same as games like “NASCAR Unleashed,” I wouldn’t have a problem recommending Borderlands 2 as a fun diversion. At twice that price, though, I think it’s fair for players to demand the whole magilla – cutting-edge development, engrossing campaign gameplay, scads of downloadable content, a rich social media/community experience, sharing of loot and gear and online multiplayer modes that keep you and your friends coming back until the next version of the game comes out.