Gamescom 2012 - Borderlands 2 hands on

We try out Gearbox Software's space western sequel

Whether it was the unique visual style, the dedication to co-op play, or the game's plain hilarity – something about Borderlands made it unlike any other first person shooter around.

Unsurprisingly, Borderlands 2 cleaves closely to its predecessor – why mess with a winning formula? The quirky cel-shaded environments look as gorgeous as ever, and every inch of Pandora still brims with humour and character.

But this is a much larger beast. It seems Gearbox Software has taken everything that made the first one great and added... well... more of it.

For fans of the game, the introduction of a new character class – the Mechromancer – is the biggy, and we got some exclusive one-on-one time with her. Her Summon Deathtrap ability is particularly entertaining – she can summon a pet robot that runs around destroying her enemies by clapping them between its hands. Another of her special abilities, Close Enough, ricochets bullets off surfaces – letting you take out enemies without the need for expert accuracy.

For those that don't know, the original Borderlands has a Guinness World Record for the largest number of guns in a single game. This time round, we have even more – and with more space to use them too. Gearbox claims that the game's Pandora is now twice the size of the original, and though we didn't get to explore too much of it, it certainly felt more expansive.

Borderlands' range of skills and abilities has also been expanded for the sequel. Our new favourite is the Thought Lock, a tricky little number that turns your enemy against its teammates. When the enemy dies, the Thought Lock travels to the nearest live one, who will then also turn on its own kind.

We were then shown one of the big boss fights – Terramorphous the Invincible. As terrifying (and impossible to defeat) as it sounds, this giant space squid attacked from beneath the ground, requiring all four players to work together closely to avoid being catapulted off the plateau by one of Terramorphous' tentacles. Even with four people in the mix, it's a challenge.

Finally, we got our hands on a co-op level that pitted your intrepid Stuff.tv reporter against waves of hostile robots. Even tooled up with a higher level class, it's a challenge. Game producer Randy Varnell tells Stuff.tv that there was a conscious decision to appeal to the hardcore Borderlands fans who'll be racking up their play time into the triple digits. We can safely say they've succeeded.

And you won't have to wait long to tackle the challenges of Borderlands 2 – it's coming to Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on September 21st.

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