Borderlands looked nothing like a hit back in 2009. With Call of Duty steamrollering everything in its path, a zany Mad Max-style first-person shooter that spliced together Halo and Diablo before wrapping it in comic book art seemed an unlikely hit. But a hit it was, so now Borderlands is back with a souped-up sequel that promises more of the same but with everything cranked up an extra notch.

Once again we’re on Pandora, a sprawling wasteland packed with savage monsters, Grade-A loonies in studded leathers and more grease than a truckers’ convention. But this time it’s bigger, longer and even more over-the-top. It’s an ideal canvas for wanton destruction and Borderlands 2 rarely misses a chance for over-the-top violence.

Borderlands 2 starts as it means to go on, serving up a constant stream of riotous battles that are backed up with showers of loot, loads of character development choices and a strain of spiky oddball humour.

Most of the time it’s a wild and compelling romp, but the non-stop tempo does make the solo game feel a tad monotonous during long sessions, which is where the excellent online or split-screen co-op modes comes to the rescue. Borderlands 2 is a game best experienced with friends thanks to the extra scope for tactics that add an extra layer of depth to the action.

Some minor but irritating bugs do detract from the game. On our first go a bug stopped us completing a key early mission forcing a complete restart, and getting trapped in the scenery is made all the worse by the distances between the game’s restart points. With any luck these are symptoms of our pre-release copy of the game, but we feel obliged to mention them.

Besides, even with these occasional problems, Borderlands 2’s fast and furious action is more than captivating enough – especially in co-op – to make it a fine and refreshing slice of cartoony ultra-violence.

[Version tested: Xbox 360]

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Borderlands 2 review

A mash-up of genres and influences it may be, but somehow Borderlands 2 works brilliantly, especially when played co-op