Initiation: Borderlands 2

As summer continues, so do our weekly features. Every week we're  be bringing two different features. And kicking off week two is out inaugural edition of Initiation. Initiation is a space where one of our writers talks about a series, franchise or genre that they have never played.  To start things off we've got Borderlands 2.

It was about two weeks after the PlayStation Vita Slim came out and I was looking for one to get and grab the Borderlands 2 bundle. Having the old Vita to trade in towards the new one and having not played any Borderlands games before, I thought it was a reasonable purchase. I will say I was not disappointed.

It was not long after the character select screen that I realized I was in for a shooter comedy. I went ahead and picked the mercenary class to have access to heavier attacks but you also have the option to go back and play as the other characters, which is really cool. What is even more rewarding is the ability to share guns and upgrades between characters using safes. Speaking of such things, Borderlands 2 has a smorgasbord of weapons. I could not help but keep playing just to keep finding different guns. I loved using fire guns or having my reload clip explode like a grenade. The choices are not for simply enjoyment but also play a role in how you attack enemies.

Playing further, I keep finding new and inventive touches to the FPS. I guess people have already experienced what I am saying, but having played the recent Destiny Alpha, I can finally see why people say Destiny is like Borderlands. In the campaign, you are free to do whatever and go where ever you want. It breaks the on-rails experience of other shooters and allows you to explore the amazing world that is Pandora. Then you come in contact with the characters, which brings out the slap-stick humor of the series. I could not help but smile while listening to Claptrap, a robot ally, go on a rant or have a series of puns.

Not only does the game let you play the campaign and world as you see fit, but Borderlands 2 let me play with people during my missions. It is a really neat experience to connect and chat seamlessly on my Vita. There is the occasional lag, but I can see how this game shines among the rest. You can have totally random people help you along the way or teach you the ins and outs. By incorporating the online community in such a way, Borderlands 2 is able to break down the barrier I have with online games. I always felt that online matches never held as much weight. By incorporating teammates and friends in missions and story mode, I felt more inclined to reach out to my friends for invites and help.

When it comes to graphics, Borderlands 2 is one of the best I have seen on a PS Vita. There is constant texture pop-ups when you first enter an area, but after about five seconds everything evens out. What you are left with is a vibrant, water-colored world. Forget the grays, blacks and other worn out colors of war and welcome in blues, reds and yellows instead. The graphics are one thing, but the controls might be the best use of the Vita yet.

I am thrilled to have purchased the PS Vita Slim bundle with Borderlands 2, but I am also getting the itch to constantly play it any where I go. I wish I would have gotten the game earlier than now, but having the extra goodies that come with the bundle is quite a treat. Each mission is short enough to jump straight in, which is where the Vita shines. I do not have to sit down and plan to spend an evening playing a great game. I can jump in and out at my leisure and still get an enjoyable experience. From the core-mechanics, to the endless array of weapons and crazy world Borderlands 2 envelopes you in, I cannot believe I waited this long to play this game.

Well, that does it for this edition of Initiation. Check back later this week as we unveil Head to Head!