On the maniacal planet of Pandora — imagine the ghetto of the Star Wars universe — guns are religion and bullets are thy reckoning. Regardless of which of the four distinct and customizable character classes you embody in Borderlands 2, survival depends on expelling ammunition faster than an OCD Rambo and then hoarding the unfathomably abundant leftover loot and firearms.
Handsome Jack, Pandora’s sarcastic self-proclaimed tyrant, heads a greedy corporation bent on harvesting the planet’s valuable mineral deposits (yes, exactly like Avatar). With constant surveillance of your actions, he doles out continual verbal harassment and breathing psychopathic obstacles, hoping to prevent you from finding and opening the sacred “Vault” — for he desires its contents.
The cartoonish, stylized visuals are reflected tonally in the absurd inhabitants and their comical banter. They provide Pandora with a constant balance of destruction and droll. I couldn’t help but laugh at a well-placed joke while being bludgeoned to pulp by a pack of feral bandits. Death came often, but the atmosphere always pulled me back.
Role-playing-game mainstays, like health bar-crowned enemies, couple with the first-person-shooter perspective for a remarkable wedding of the two genres. Experience gained with every flesh-penetrating round accumulates — albeit slowly — and enables a pick-and-choose experimentation of lethality. The erratic driving mechanics could use a tune-up though, as I always felt like a blindfolded Lindsay Lohan behind the wheel.
Borderlands 2 often lingers too much on the monotonous: The necessity of plundering lockers and corpses every 10 feet to stockpile a formidable arsenal felt like a chore. Thankfully, the lack of variety in what you do is upstaged by the variety of how you do it. Not even the replacement referees could call this one bad.