This cheeky, first-person shooter offers a linear story with cartoonish fights and plenty of bloodshed, writes Alex Ritman.
Fun with guns in Borderlands 2
PS3, Xbox 360, PC
If there's one word to describe Borderlands 2, the sequel to 2009's surprise sleeper hit, it's chaotic. Whether you're firing at your foes from afar with the Jacobs' Siah-siah Callipeen sniper or up close and personal with the Bandit Duble Bareld Stret Sweper shotgun (spelling mistakes not ours), or even doing one of the few missions that don't involve wanton death and destruction, this quirky, cartoony Mad Max-meets-Duke Nukem, 3D first-person shooter rarely offers a single moment that is anything less than frantic. Thankfully, you won't miss the chance to pause for breath.
Like the first, it's set across the desolate and almost fully explorable planet of Pandora which, this time, has been expanded with a wider population of weird and wonderful individuals, not all of whom you're expected to blow to pieces (but most you are). The main characters from the first are back, plus a load of newbies, such as the wisecracking main antagonist, Handsome Jack, and the slightly disturbing underage demolitions expert, Tiny Tina.
The story is fairly linear, and you can quite happily plough through the main missions - most of which involve battling past an ever-powerful array of gun-toting oddballs or feral beasts across various terrains and collecting items at the end - to reach the game's conclusion. But there's much fun to be had in deviating off the main path, taking up the numerous side missions that crop up and scouring out new areas around the map to increase your XP and expand your inventory.
Which brings us nicely to the most vital element, the weaponry. If you thought the arsenal from the first was impressive, take a look at the new line-up, which has been given the gaming equivalent of full US military aid, with a seemingly never-ending assortment of all-powerful, peculiarly entitled shooters to acquire. Some - such as the Base Synergy pistol, add an extra punch by throwing in some armour-corrosive gunk, while others, such as the Gromsky Bratchny sniper, add a splash of electricity into the mix. Best of all, there are customisation opportunities, so you can up the cartridge size, for example, while the various mods scattered liberally about help add to your overall damage. You'll have a favourite for while, before something new comes along that takes out baddies in a more satisfying manner.
There are four character classes to choose from, each with differing special powers and their own specific upgrades. Axton the Commando can whack out a machine gun turret, which is particularly useful in some of the more ridiculous fight scenes, while Maya the Siren can throw a force field around enemies to pull them from behind cover. Whichever you choose, the end result is largely the same: a whole lot of blood.
But, despite the distinctly un-family friendly level of gore, Borderlands 2 still manages to remain a cheeky, humorous affair littered with slapstick dialogue and colourful, cartoonish Tank Girl-style graphics.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 may already be lined up to be this year's first-person shooter of choice, but if you'd prefer some video game killing that didn't take itself quite so seriously, this has everything that you'll need.