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Buttstallion, bonerfarts, midgets, oh my!

Borderlands 2 is what a sequel should be. Developed by Gearbox Software, It took the core ideas of the original game and refined them, notably the guns. In this lootfest, players take control of one of four classes, each varied and with three separate skill trees that add to the already outstanding replayability, accompanied by at least one DLC class. Unfortunately, none of them have a large enough backpack to hold all the guns you'll find while traveling the snow-covered and sand-filled Pandora. Unless you play through the game a few dozen times, the gunplay will never be more than similar, and then it's only in the beginning, thanks to the random spawns and randomized weapons, shields, and class enhancement mods.

The guns themselves have a variety of effects such as fire and explosive damage, and oddities such as throwing a weapon to reload it, only for it to explode on impact and digitize itself into your hands. All that is of course on top of rolled stats such as general damage, accuracy, and fire rate.

Each of the four classes is varied and has a distinguishing skill along with their skill trees. The Gunzerker is a classic tank, who has the ability to dual wield any two weapons for a limited time and generalizes in causing destruction. The commando can toss out a sentry turret, which he can upgrade through various skills. The siren character uses elemental magic and has a phaselock ability to freeze opponents for a time. The final character is an assassin who creates a decoy and briefly becomes invisible, either to escape or make a sneak attack.

The game's story is one of revenge. Handsome Jack has been taking down Vault Hunters and you were his last target. Unfortunately for him, you survived. With the help of your trusty robot master Claptrap, who was abandoned in the cold wastes, you return to civilization to annoy everybody kill Jack. The antagonist never lets your forget he's there, as he's constantly breaking the silence through radio communication, often to send some creatures after you or to insult you and the rest of Pandora's denizens. Along the way, you'll meet the four characters from the first game, and they'll aid in you in stopping Jack from opening the next big vault, which judging by the way the last one turned out, isn't a good idea.

Borderlands 2 also tries to be funny. A lot. The humor often comes as very forced. A lot. It takes a special state of mind to enjoy Claptrap's memories of his deceased friends who never existed to begin with or mechanic Scooter's woes of having his car eaten by another man...with, like, a fork. Conversely, some of the humor is great for my tastes, such as Claptrap's awkward birthday party in which nobody shows up, he offers cold pizza, and lasts a few minutes of him staring at you, somehow showing emotion in his unchanging face.

Some of the humor even made it into the gameplay. Among the many enemies you'll fight, a good number of them are unlucky midgets who charge at you with weapons too large for them. At first the sight of a short man running to bash your kneecaps in might get a chuckle, but when they persist throughout the whole game they just become a nuisance. One mission has you killing an enemy type and inspecting items related to it, so that a man can choose a new suitable name for them. Eventually he settles on the name "bonerfart," which persists in the game for a few memorable minutes.

Borderlands 2 doesn't have any music you'll want to keep listening to, and the game goes for a more artistic look than a realistic one, but it's combination of multiple game types--lootfest, RPG, and shooter, make it a unique game that is a blast to play, alone or with friends in 4-player co-op. The immense customization you get in making your character your own and the gameplay itself far overshadows its flaws of music and bad jokes and makes me forgive it instantly. Borderlands 2 is a strong contender for Game of the Year 2012.

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