Select Page

Borderlands 2 Mac Review

Borderlands 2 comes to the Mac as one of the biggest releases of the year. Not only was Borderlands 2 received with great reviews back in September when released on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, it was also brought to the Mac only 2 months later, not common feet in the Mac gaming world. Borderlands 2 was developed by Gearbox Software and comes to the Mac by the hand of Aspyr, one of the leading Mac porting companies.

In a nutshell, Borderlands 2 is a different breed of First Person Shooter. It follows the steps of the original Borderlands, bringing you FPS action combined with cool RPG elements such as leveling, different class types, looting and skill trees. Think Call of Duty meets Diablo.  But How good is Borderlands 2 on the Mac? Is it worth your time and money?

 

Enter Borderlands 2 for Mac

Borderlands 2 (Mac)

Borderlands 2 is mostly gameplay driven, yet it tells an interesting story. You are a Vault Hunter, and your objective is to find The Vault. The first cinematic introduces you to your enemy, Handsome Jack, a guy you will quickly love to hate! He’s as funny as he’s original when it comes to killing his foes.

During this first cinematic, he almost kills you. I will not spoil the story for you, but from then on, you are set on an adventure to meet other Vault Hunters and find the Vault before Handsome Jack does. Perhaps Borderlands 2 will not win “story of the year”, but it does what it should: help the developer set the tone for the game: ridiculous characters, laid back atmosphere and overall, funny situations.

The story is only part of the fun. The other, bigger part, is the shooting and the guns! You will develop an addiction to killing, so you can get bigger guns, so you can kill bigger dudes. As NinjaFoodstuff puts it “The stars of the game are the guns“.

 

There are so many guns… More than you will be able to handle! Pistols, shotguns, machine guns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, grenade launchers, you name it! Some will burn, others electrocute, you get the idea…

As far as the campaign goes, the main thing that bothered me was the pace of the first few hours of the game. It is so slow! They force you to spend 2 to 3 hours with no abilities and a couple of boring pistols. This definitely kills the motivation to start over in order to try a new class.

Also, if played Solo from start to end, the mechanics can feel tiring: too much rinse and repeat (kill, loot, kill, loot).

But in summary: the gameplay is the star and it drives the game all the way.

 

Presentation

This FPS not only plays different, it looks different! The style is shader based, and this gives Borderlands 2 cool cartoonish graphics. Focus on both words: cool and cartoonish. Borderlands 2 is not trying to imitate semi-realism, à la Battlefield Modern Warfare, they are doing their own thing. Just check the screenshots in this article and you will see what I mean! In the graphics department, the game does things its own way, and it pulls it off.

Mac games Borderlands 2

 

Multiplayer

Everything described in the “Story” and “Gameplay” sections applies here. The Multiplayer mode is basically the Campaign mode with up to 4 friends. No competitive Multiplayer here! This is not a bad thing, as playing the campaign with friends only makes Borderlands 2 much more fun! You get to face tougher enemies with your friends in exchange for better loot.

It is rare that a modern game lets you play the entire main campaign co-op. Borderlands 2 does it and it does it well. It is quite easy to find a friend and play together.

 

Performance

The game runs fine on my gaming setup (a Mac Pro Hackintosh build with a Nvidia GTX660 Ti card), with no major problems. The only thing that bothered me was the fact the same machine runs the game a lot better on Windows. This is not scientifically proven at all, but I estimate the Windows versions around 30% faster (I can set everything on high and play smoothly).

 

The Verdict

The Good

  • Addictive all around
  • Polished gameplay
  • Original, good-looking graphics
  • Great Multiplayer

The Bad

  • Slow start
  • Not as fast as the Windows version
  • Can get tiring when played Solo entirely

Final Word

Borderlands 2 for Mac is without a doubt one of the best releases of the year. I will not repeat all the reasons described above, let me just say this game is fun to play, solo or with friends. The mechanics are polished and will never get in the way of the fun. We loved this game so much it won our 2012 Game of the Year Award and a permanent spot among the best shooters for Mac ranking!

Get it from the Mac App Store.

  • jaxxx

    Agree completely with the pacing, it’s a slow start. The mechromancer DLC is a good one to get if you are planning on soloing.

    (and thanks for the ^⌘⎋ link!)

    • Ric M

      Hey Jaxxx, thanks for the comment! What was your favorite part of the game? I really liked doing the boss battles coop.
      I am away on holidays, so I haven’t had the chance to try the DLC. I will definitely try it out in January!
      (^⌘⎋ is a great place to get mac gaming news, you should definitely bookmark it 🙂 , I am working on a mac gaming resources list, to share all the best places to get mac gaming news, stay tunes 😉 )!

  • Carlos

    No guns in the game freeze…

    • Ric M

      I was going to fast there, thanks 🙂

  • Luca

    Great review; I’ve owned it for a while, haha. Still, with all of the farming, raid bosses, side-quests, co-op, etc. it’s a lot of fun, even in the first few hours; as long as you’ve got a friend. Then again, I’m a level 50 now, haha. Did you play the first one?

    • Thanks Luca!
      Indeed, the more friends you have to play with, the more fun you will have with this game! I actually played the first one a bit (on the Xbox 360, don’t tell anyone! 😉 ).
      Have you tried the DLCs that were released not so long ago?

  • ikir

    Hi Ric! Have you tried Borderlands 2 lately? It seems much more faster to me (don’t know if 10.8.3 helped), i’m curious if you still notice the difference with Windows version.

    • Hey Ikir, good comment.
      I did notice this when coming back to the game after some weeks without playing. Even during loading screens, I noticed the performance was a hell of a lot better! I even increased some settings and the game continued to work great.
      I haven’t compared to the PC version lately but I can confirm performance under OS X 10.8.3 is WAY better than under 10.8.2!

  • staraffinity

    On my Hackintosh (with the same GPU) it runs badly in OS X if I don’t disable DynamicShadows, which makes the game look quite different. No problem to leave it on in Windows. The only frame rate drop I see there is when there’s a lot of fire going on.

    • Sorry for the late reply man! Did you notice that with Mavericks performance improved a lot?

      • staraffinity

        No problems with the late reply! 🙂

        I haven’t tried it in Mavericks, so no – I didn’t know. But I have a friend who did and compared to Windows it’s still bad.

        • Man, sucks to hear that…. Hopefully as Apple continues to update Mavericks and Open GL support, we will see better performance in games.
          In the meantime, the whole thing is frustating, believe me I know!

          • staraffinity

            Yup, frustrating. I’ve been waiting/hoping for more than ten years that OS X would get at least closer to Windows when it comes to game performance. Seems far fetched. 🙂

            Anyway, I have sent in a use case report to Apple at bugreport.apple.com (they asked for it when I said games perform much worse in OS X) comparing gaming performance (frame rate) when gaming in Windows and OS X on the same Mac. Hopefully it will lead somewhere…

          • Come on man, you’re a little too harsh there. Mac gaming is still far from Windows gaming. I would be stupid if I said the opposite. That said, performance is improving every year, not there yet but getting closer. Also the games, each year more high profile games make it to the Mac.

          • staraffinity

            Maybe I’m a bit harsh, but I think it’s moving too slow. And is it really getting closer performance wise? But I agree the state of Mac gaming is better than it’s ever been, no doubt about it. Let’s keep the hope up for the future. I’ve been giving feedback to Apple ”from all angels” now, so maybe things will change for the better quicker.

          • There’s a very good read that talks about performance and lack of Apple support here: http://blog.gameagent.com/apple-influencing-development-mac-games/

  • Th3taJ

    Any thoughts on how to get me wife to play this game with me?

    She hates shooters and I’m trying to help her understand that with all the exploration and customization, it’s so much more than a shooter and the game itself is so entertaining. I really hope I get her to play it with me in the future since everyone I want to play with has already beaten the game.

    • Well, does she like RPGs? If she does than it should be easy, just tell her there are tons of cool loot! Think Diablo meets Halo 🙂
      But yeah, the game is so much about exploration and leveling up than just killing dudes.