Tekken Tag Tournament 2
PS3 (review copy) Xbox 360
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 knows what you're here for, and doesn't weigh you down with plenty of unnecessary modes. The preeminent 3D fighter doesn't invest too much into anything other than being a top-notch fighting game. Sure, there are customizable costumes, but that's about it. No in-depth story mode, no Tekken Bowling (which I'd actually be okay with them adding), none of that. You are here to fight, and if you aren't familiar with the Tekken Fighting engine, you will initially be here to lose.
Featuring practically every character that has ever appeared in a Tekken game, TTT2 offers a roster of over 50 characters. Each character, boasting a move list that practically boggles the mind in its length. Though primarily built around a two-character team setup (and despite the name 'tag' in the tournament), should you choose to, you can opt to fight solo, with your lone character receiving damage and health bonus – though leaving you lacking with the combo extending properties a teammate would have added. The fighting itself is smooth with most characters in the cast being pretty balanced in terms of character viability. All of that means next to nothing, though, if you're a Tekken rookie. And if you opt to play online – which assuming you have a good Internet connection – is smooth. Take your meager skills online or against any local player good at Tekken, and expect to get bopped... continuously and mercilessly.
Fortunately, one of the modes Namco Bandai DID include is a slightly humorous, yet very informative training mode. Assuming the role of a Combot, (a fighting robot... get it?) you'll learn the ins and outs of TTT2's fight mechanics. Sure, upon completion, you still won't be guaranteed an EVO championship, but you just may know enough to keep yourself from being horrifically defeated by more seasoned competitors.
Tekken has always been a seriously technical fighter, under the guise of a noob-friendly button masher. Sure you can just press buttons and have a good time with your buddies, but if you have aspirations of playing at a higher level, TTT2 does give you the tools to begin your long journey. Pretty much everything included in this game is for that sole purpose, with practically nothing (save the costumes) else. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is a serious fighter for serious fighters, which will take the time to teach those who want to learn, but quickly leaving those seeking a casual button masher in the dust. | RDW
PS3 (Review Copy) Xbox 360, PC
Seemingly coming out of nowhere to be one of the surprise hits of 2009, the original Borderlands combined character leveling, and a wicked sense of humor with America's true pastime – the bearing of motherfucking arms. Shooting things, and the search of better guns to shoot said things was a driving force, if not THE driving force, behind that success. Sure there was a fun team aspect, and leveling system to customize your character's strengths. But let's face it, it was about the pursuit of arms. Borderlands 2 goes ahead and takes this winning formula and, well, does it some more – on a bigger scale. Frankly, that's absolutely the right call.
Taking place five years after the original Borderlands, this go-round introduces you to four new characters that, for reasons of their own, are on the planet Pandora in search of treasure. Handsome Jack, the leader of the Hyperion Corporation and all-around dickbag, is intent on seeing these characters dead, and will spare no expense to ensure that happens. Boasting a much tighter story narrative this game around, you and up to three friends will be on a collision course with Jack, one of the smarmiest antagonists to come along in quite a while. Of course, along the way, you will meet many characters from the first game that will aid you in your journey. Also aiding you on your journey? Guns.
As you can tell from this review (and about 5 seconds of actually playing), firepower takes central stage in the Borderlands universe. Many an hour will be lost grinding it out on Pandora in search of the finest of loot. Boasting more guns than the original (which had 17 MILLION possible gun combinations), you'll be on the hunt for quite a long time. Obviously, you'll need something to actually shoot with those guns, and Pandora is filled with them. Be it bandits, local wildlife or friggin' giant robots, all enemies have some sort of weakness – which of course can be exploited with the correct firepower.
This time around, should you choose to forsake teamwork and go it alone, Borderlands 2 makes your solo excursion a bit more palatable than the first go-round, where a lone player's experience felt lacking. Going solo here is actually a decent experience. That said... DON'T PLAY ALONE! PLAY WITH FRIENDS! Teamwork plays an integral role in the Borderlands experience, as you and up to three other characters will have to form a cohesive team in order to deal the most damage while healing the damage you've received. Playing on a team takes the sting out of some of the less interesting side missions (filler missions really being the only issue with the game). On the other hand, going in with a solid team makes a great experience even better.
With practically endless looting possibilities, solid gameplay, and a wickedly funny storyline rife with current pop culture references, Borderlands 2 is meant to be a fun experience to be enjoyed with your buddies. To that, it greatly succeeds, making this one of the top contenders for the game of the year. | RDW