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Borderlands 2 Preview (PS3)

June 13, 2012 Written by Nick Tan

Five years have past since the original four heroes of Borderlands opened the fabled Eridian Vault. Unfortunately, Handsome Jack has stolen their thunder, taking credit for all of their hard-earned efforts and taking over the Hyperion Corporation to not only subdue the four vault hunters, but also stroke his own savior complex. He plans to “purify” the lawless lands of Pandora by committing mass genocide on the colonist population and turning it into an industrialized landfill that would make Captain Planet cry.

Under his authoritarian rule, you’re just trying to work within the system by fighting in a tournament sponsored by Handsome Jack for a cache of loot, but he finds your popularity a threat to his precious ego. So he decides to flip you off and leave you for dead in some wasteland, where Guardian Angel thankfully saves you and asks for your aid in rescuing the first four heroes. Of course, telling Jack to hit the proverbial road won’t be good enough. You want him dead.

To accomplish this, you’ll need to do the same thing you did in the first Borderlands: find some badass guns. Fortunately, you’ll probably find one within the first fifteen minutes, something along the lines of a 4x-caustic rocket launcher with a sick reload speed and a 3.0x scope. Borderlands 2 knows what you want, and it’s much faster in delivering the goods. More precisely, it’s about twenty percent faster, with weapon switching and movement speed noticeably brisker than before. If lady luck isn’t on your side and you’re saddled with a heap of cruddy surplus guns clogging up your inventory, don’t worry. You can throw them at your enemies for an awesome explosion. I suppose that’s one way to go green.

Beyond that, Borderlands 2 is everything you would expect from a Borderlands sequel, with plenty of insects and crystalisks to exterminate, missions to accept from bounty boards, and treasure chests to hoard… or share with your three co-op friends if you don’t want to be booted from the party. Working together to defeat bosses, if just to obtain the best loot, is a must and undeniably the best part of the game.

The new cast of heroes are directly inspired by their original counterparts: Axton replaces Roland as the commando, Maya takes over Lilith’s role of the siren, Salvador substitutes for Brick as a Gunzerker who can dual-wield any two guns, and Zer0 upgrades Mordecai’s hunter skills as a slick assassin with cloaking powers. A fifth class, a female cyborg Mechromancer who can summon support drones, has been announced as well for DLC, so you can expect Gearbox Software to have a wealth of content prepared after launch.

Borderlands 2 arrives this year on September 18th in North America and September 21st in United Kingdom.