The devil's in the details

Despite all these new trappings, Borderlands 2 feels ultimately just a sliver too similar to its predecessor. You'll fall into the same rhythms of questing and looting, and the four new character classes with their new abilities lend themselves to the same play styles that their predecessors' did.

The Gunzerker, who can wield a weapon in each hand, is the new Berserker. The Assassin's ability to extricate himself from the midst of battle is reminiscent of the previous Siren's ability. The Commando's ability is simply to drop a turret. It's beefier than Roland's turret in the first game, but ultimately serves the same purpose.

New "Badass" points allow you to slightly tweak certain stats as you complete challenges like accruing sniper kills and critical hits, so that by the end of the game you'll wind up with minimal boosts to shield regen, damage and more. These carry over between characters, which is a particularly nice touch.

You can equip four weapons at once, plus grenade, shield and class mods, and gems that grant various abilities. New toys like singularity grenades that pull enemies toward them like tiny black holes before exploding in clouds of corrosive acid, fire or electricity provide plenty of amusement. And there are plenty more subtle tweaks in equipment and abilities.

The characters' new skill trees provide plenty of room for customization within each class. My main avatar, a Gunzerker, wound up as a brawny powerhouse who could rush into battle with a shotgun gripped in each meaty fist, taunting enemies and regaining health as he absorbed the bullets sent his way.

It was awesome, but it made it extremely difficult to play solo. Taking this on by yourself rather than with a friend or two is a completely different experience, and one that I didn't always find enjoyable. With no one around to revive you when you take too much damage, you'll die way too much.

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