Earlier this week, we awarded Borderlands 2 our Best Shooter and Best Art Style awards for Gearbox’s showing at E3. This was our third time wrapping our paws around the game’s silky smooth controls, but this time was just a little bit different. In addition to Maya (the Siren) and Salvador (the poster child Gunzerker), we were finally allowed to take control of Zero (the Assassin) and Axton (the Commando). Unfortunately, both my co-op partner and I wanted to mete out some long-range death, meaning I only have some follow-up tips from Gearbox on how the Commando’s turret differs from Roland’s in Borderlands.

They told me that the Scorpio 2.0 turret improves on the original with a full 360 degree range of motion, as opposed to a limited cone. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a good look at the skill trees. Had I known my compatriot was picking Zero also, I would have altered my own decision. Hopefully, we’ll get one more crack at the title before it ships.

Zero, though, I can speak about. The stealthy assassin’s activated ability leaves a doppelgänger in his place slashing and taunting foes. This gives players the opportunity to dive out of harm’s way or sneak up and attack from behind. It’s particularly useful for enemies that are armored from the front, which seems to be far more prevalent this time out. A number of his skills focus on his melee attack (swords are cool). I preferred to spend points on his marksmanship, building up to a skill that increased critical hit chance the longer I was aiming down the sights. This worked out quite nicely with the Maliwan electric rifle I was given, especially since we ended up going toe to toe with some very large bots.

The demo level took place in a large plaza, with Claptrap barking orders at us. Apparently, we’re his minions so… there’s that. Our mission, and Claptrap made sure that we would accept it, was to find and repair a disabled floating robot. Of course, if it were that easy, it wouldn’t be Borderlands. Once reaching the bot, we were told to escort it (a new mission type) around the plaza to cut down statues of Handsome Jack. The charmingly amusing antagonist had quite a bit of dialog, and I can already tell he’s going to be elected to the Bad Guy Hall of Fame. He’s the kind of villain gamers love to hate.

With each statue demolished, Jack’s ire grew. However, he never lost the Spider-Man-esque quippy approach, which induced giggles. I felt like a child needling a substitute teacher with each act of insubordination, and I loved it.

As part of the escort mission, there seemed to be a bonus objective. The final check box had a plus sign next to it, instructing us to keep our charge’s health above 50%. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do so (probably due to a lack of diversity in skills), and I can only assume that additional loot and experience await for those that accomplish these supplemental tasks.

Much like past Borderlands 2 demos, this one ended shortly after a fight broke out with a boss. This time, it was Jupiter, an enormous robotic monstrosity that worked quite diligently to blow us off the face of Pandora. He was huge, we were small. We’ll have to wait until the game comes out to finish that fight.

As always, Borderlands 2 is an exhilarating and enjoyable experience. The art style has matured greatly since the series’ first entry (we did give it an award for that), and the music and voice acting, not to mention the variety in the sounds of firearms, are all holding up to or surpassing expectations. September 18 can’t get here soon enough, because I just want to wreak insane havoc with a bazillion guns.