Title: Borderlands Handsome Collection
Platform: PS4 and Xbox One (reviewed)
Developer: Gearbox Software
Release date: March 24th (North America) and March 27th (Worldwide)
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In this generation of remasters, 2K and Gearbox Software decided to throw their hat into the party by releasing the Borderlands: Handsome Collection. This nice little bundle includes Borderlands 2 with all the original post-release DLC and the most recent entry in the franchise- Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel- again with the game’s DLC. Although it is an odd choice to omit the game that started the franchise into the bundle. This review will basically cover both as games individually with an overall summary.
Five years after the events of the original Borderlands, four new vault hunters make their way to Pandora to unearth this mysterious planet’s secrets. Unfortunately, Handsome Jack has other plans. The antagonist booby-trapped the train which is carrying the four hunters and explodes; leaving the protagonists for dead…or so Jack thinks. As one of the four classes, you are rescued by Claptrap while a mysterious guardian angel strongly suggests you tag along the garbage-bin-on-wheels in order to join the Crimson Raiders in their mission to eliminate the arrogant Handsome Jack.
For those new to the franchise, Borderlands is a first person shooter mixed with some RPG elements. First thing you need to do when starting up a new game, you get to choose between one of six classes (two of which were initially added post-release of the original Borderlands 2): Gunzerker, Assassin, Siren, Commando, Mechromancer and Psycho. Each class also has their own strengths and weaknesses along with a unique skill tree to develop through in-game progression. Each class also has a special ability can be used in troublesome times. For example, the Gunzerker can use two of his equipped guns simultaneously to kill everything in his path. Obviously, there’s a meter attached to your character’s special skill, meaning that once its depleted you need to wait until its filled back up to use it once more.
As you take down enemies, your character levels up and gains experience points which can be used to improve your character’s skill tree. This makes it pretty fun because the game gives you control over your character’s progression. One of the game’s strongest points is the ability to save yourself when you’re “dead”. Once your HP is depleted, you have one opportunity to revive yourself. You’ll have a few seconds to kill an enemy to revive yourself and avoid losing a few minutes of backtracking and some of your hard-earned cash.
To avoid losing money by being respawned, headshots are vault hunters’ best friend. Sure, shooting enemies elsewhere on the body does damage; but aiming for the head on human-like enemies will make short work of the threat and avoid losing time and money. In order to help you survive, you can pick up Shields throughout the game which can give you a bit of breathing space when being surrounded by enemies. Obviously, once the shield’s meter is depleted, you start taking damage, so you need to take cover until it fills back up.
For a game that’s about scavenging and picking up weapons and ammo, your inventory space is insanely limited; leading to tough choices as to which weapons to dump or sell which in turns can turn into frustration because you can’t pick up every weapon you find. Chests and the lifeless bodies of your fallen enemies also drop a bit of cash for you to purchase new weapons, shields, ammo and health. At first, the amounts found can feel a bit cheap. However, shops are few and far between, meaning you’ll be able to get a nice fat virtual wallet pretty quick. Add to that the fact that you’ll have to sell most of your inventory when you find a shop and you’ll be rich in no time. In order to travel long distances, you can also drive a generic four-wheeled vehicle with a nice little mounted machine gun; which is very practical when playing with friends. However, driving mechanics are a pain. Going forward or backward with the left joytick while choosing the direction with the right joystick is not the most fun friendly way to drive in a videogame.
To help you get around the large world of Pandora, you have access to a convenient little mini-map at the top right corner of the screen; objectives being represented by a diamond shape icon. On a small scale, it is pretty easy to get around in order to reach the objective, yet navigating from one area to another can be a bit more cumbersome. When accessing the map in the menu, the icons are flipped around from the mini map which can sometimes be confusing. For longer trips, you can set a waypoint on the map, however it changes nothing as it won’t “guide” you to your destination. Each safe area also provides a Fast Travel functionality, letting you avoid driving that awful vehicle.
The game is spread across 18 chapters, with an abundance of side-quests peppered throughout the game, ensuring hours and hours of gameplay. Players can either go straight through the game’s storyline or take their time in order to accomplish 100%. Safe to say this isn’t the type of game that you can reach 100% within a few hours.
Borderlands The Pre-Sequel
This latest entry in the Borderlands franchise picks up shortly before the events of Borderlands 2 on the flying city of Sanctuary as former Vault Hunters are interrogating a now captured Athena. She recounts the events that lead her to help a man named Jack to find the Vault. Obviously turns take a turn for the worse. It is basically the retelling story of 3 Vault Hunters and Claptrap as they head to Pandora’s Moon- Elpis- to shut down jamming signals so Jack can use Helios’ defence systems. The events of the Pre-Sequel basically explain that our 3 heroes and the tin can were partly responsible for the “birth” of the would be Handsome Jack.
Borderlands The Pre-Sequel features 11 missions with again a plethora of side-quests. When starting up, you have the choice of 5 vault hunters and Claptrap for you to take on the quest. Players can choose between Athena The Gladiator, Wilhelm the Enforcer, Nisha The Lawbringer and Clap Trap. With 2K and Gearbox Software having added the original’s post-release DLC, players have 2 more characters to choose from: The Baroness and Doppelganger Jack.
As they say, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Killing enemies and successfully clearing quests will give you XP allowing you to level up and also skills points to spend however you see it to decide your character’s progression in their respective skill tree. With this one taking place on the moon, there’s obviously no air, so you’ll need to keep an eye on your 02 kit, or as they call it Oz Kits. Peppered about the surface are little spots where you can fill your Oz Kit back up with air. Run out of air and you’ll start taking damage. So during intense firefights, not only do you need to keep tabs on your shield, but the O2 meter as well. Shooting enemy helmets will cause them to be damaged by the lack of air. Also being on the moon means no gravity; you’ll be able to jump higher than Master Chief himself.
The Borderlands franchise is known for its cel-shaded look which makes it stand out from the Call of Duty games of this world. Being ported to the current gen consoles, Gearbox Software made it a bit more shinier than its PS3/Xbox 360 counterpart. It looks crisper and despite the weird issues such as walking directly through Claptrap (in Borderlands 2) or seeing enemies walking on thin air, the overall presentation of both Borderlands is spot-on. Audio wise, the voice actors do their job pretty spot-on; although most of the humor spots fall pretty flat.
Borderlands Handsome Collection is a remastered collection done right…almost. The main faults of this one is the lack of the first Borderlands and also because it was released way too soon. Gamers didn’t even have time to miss and forget the franchise; as The Pre-Sequel released roughly 6 months before this collection. Besides other small shortcomings such as minor visuals glitches, humor that falls flat, frustrating driving mechanics and annoying loading sequences in-game during short tutorials, Borderlands Handsome Collection is an amazing game overall that every FPS players need to try as its worth the investment. There’s so much to do, Whether it be alone or with friends, it will keep you busy for a long time.
What Rocks! :)
- Great weapon variety
- Original’s post-release DLC included
- Perfect games for co-op
- Unique visuals
- Returning players can transfer their data from PS3/Xbox 360 versions
What Sucks :(
- Claptrap is annoying as fuck
- Some graphical glitches
- The first Borderlands is M.I.A.
- Insanely limited inventory space
- Annoying driving mechanics
Borderlands Handsome Collection is rated M for Mature thanks to blood, gore, intense violence, language, sexual themes and alcohol use.
Code provided courtesy of Xbox UK