So, if you read my last post on Borderlands 2, you know the ordeal that went into even receiving what is very possibly my most anticipated game of the year. For me, the first game felt a lot like Fallout 3, minus the plot and open-endedness. It was a mindless rampage through a beautifully cel-shaded world of nightmare. Honestly, it is one of the few games that I still pop in from time to time, just to blow off some steam. The added downloadable content was on the most part a let down there, but it was not in the least unplayable.
This time around, they took everything, and amped it up! More customization options, more weapons, more difficulty. This game has it all, except for multiple difficulty settings. I have tinkered with every screen I can find and can find no way to change the difficulty from the horrific nightmare level that seems to be the default setting. In fact, the only thing I have found that can adjust the difficulty in the least, is by playing with friends... And all that manages to do is amp up the difficulty. So quite literally, if you are having trouble, the worst thing you can do is ask for a friend's help, because that will only make things worse.
Despite the insanity, this is a fun game. Enough familiarity exists to make the game easily accessible to veterans of the first game (and in fact the game rewards you if it detects a save file from the previous game). And, there is enough new stuff added, to make the game feel fresh and different. The ability to alter you character's head and outfit, to a greater degree makes the characters feel more unique, and allow two people to play the same class in a co-op game without a major risk of looking the same.
One particular bit of gameplay that I am infatuated with, is the concept of "Badass Ranks". Basically, Gearbox took the now ubiquitous concept of achievements, and actually decided to reward players in game for those achievements. Complete something as simple as pick up 10 different weapons, and you can earn a Badass Rank. With enough Badass Rank points, you can earn a Badass Token, with can be redeemed for a permanent stat boost. All in all, this is a pretty Badass idea! ... Sorry, I couldn't resist saying Badass one more time in this Badass paragraph. ....Badass.
I can not comment on the storyline, because so far, I have only played through until level 10 on 2 different characters. I can tell you, that I find the main villain to bear an uncanny resemblance to a certain presidential candidate... But, I'm sure that is just mere coincidence, and has nothing to do with politics.
The voice acting and dialogue in general are great. Uniquely insane characters provide some insane banter in the background, and if you stand still too long, will often treat you to just the most random statements. Claptrap provides no end to the humorous rants, and Handsome Jack's occasional interjections leave me laughing more often than not.
In the end, I have to say, I love this game. It's great fun, and I imagine it will provide multiple reasons to get together with my little brother, or honestly any of the assorted gamer friends I might have, to sit back and shoot the shit while we shoot at shit. This is not a game for novice players, and the novices among you will likely find the game to be prohibitively difficult. I can only hope that in the near future Gearbox can release a patch for the game that will allow the difficulty to be toned down a tad for the more casual players out there.
Final Score: 9 out of 10