Despite the recent influx of news regarding Borderlands 2, the one key ingredient for unbridled enthusiasm has been strangely missing: gameplay footage. It seems the gods of leaked footage have finally heard our prayers though, and thus fourteen minutes of a Gunzerker demonstration made a brief appearance online for the unwashed masses.

The most noticeable and welcome change is the amount of variety in the game’s environments. Borderlands was a game that was more mechanically dynamic than most other current generation shooters, but the landscape was inexplicably drab, dreary, and after several hours of playing, just outright boring. The Gearbox employee showing off the demo makes sure to let the audience know that the artists are indeed aware that green is on the color palette this time around.

Along with some beautiful and grass-covered hilly vistas, snow-capped mountains and enormous man-made infrastructure make their appearance as well, interconnecting to provide a much more cohesive and believable world. The UI changes are a little more subtle, but similarly positive. The menu is now entirely in-game, hopefully alleviating the cumbersome tendencies of the previous interface during split-screen co-op play. They are more compact and easier to navigate, which should make cooperative gaming even more appealing.

Gearbox has thankfully stuck with the tried and true run-and-gun gameplay of the first title. Enemies rush the player from all directions, constantly bombarding the screen with bullets, missiles and bodies. Despite the surface level sameness, enemy AI has been fleshed out quite substantially, meaning tactics from the original Borderlands may not fly in Pandora this time around. Psychos and midgets return to harass and scream at the player with the newly acquired abilities to climb, jump, scramble, and generally make it more difficult to get a good line of sight on the target.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Borderlands game without the guns. One of the first new guns we see in the video is made of such cheap material that when the player needs to reload, the gun is thrown through the air to land at the enemy’s feet, where it subsequently explodes. Another unique gun works like a hose, spraying an increasing amount of bullets depending on how long the trigger is held down for.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQF7GQjTjsM

Near the end of the video, the Gunzerker’s dual-wielding ability is put to good use – saving Roland, the soldier of the original game. All four original playable characters will make appearances throughout the game as NPCs. This boss battle is actually the second of the two, and both manage to wow the crowd. Bosses were standard fare in the first game, but Gearbox wants players fully engaged this time around. Bosses will run through the environment, unleash hordes of minions to distract the player, and defend themselves in original and exciting ways, something most of Borderlands boss fights were sorely missing.

Overall, Borderlands 2 is shaping up to be one of the standout multi-platform titles of 2012. Do you think that this RPG/shooter hybrid’s sequel will hit all the sweet spots that the first missed?

Borderlands 2 will be out for the Xbox 360 and PS3 in 2012.

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