Review: Borderlands: The Handsome Collection (PS4)
You might remember, so very long ago, that I reviewed Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (TPS). Oh wait, that wasn’t very long ago, now was it? Six months ago there was a lot of complaining about TPS not coming out on the latest gen of consoles. People were upset and a lot of spin was put on why they didn’t release for the latest gen, citing small install bases and increased development cost.
But the game came out for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC and I was pretty happy with the game, which I reviewed on PC, after feeling pretty let down by Borderlands 2.
Playing Borderlands 2 reminded me of all the things I hated about it. The practically mute characters silently being given piles upon piles of tasks to do. The pointless fetch quests. It also reminded me of what I loved in it: Handsome Jack, slag weapons and open maps that give you space to have a joyride in the vehicles. While I appreciated being able to actually read the signboards and posters throughout the world, the lack of PhysX or anything remotely resembling it was disappointing. It’s also really difficult to go back to Borderlands 2 after playing TPS, thanks to getting used to double jumping around and having the characters actually engage in conversations instead of being silent murderbots. Speaking of murder and bots you get to play as Gaige the Mechromancer who loves her friend Deathbot to bits or as Krieg, who seems to be an excuse to have Brick as a playable character again. If you haven’t, you really need to play Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep, which takes a lot of its references and humour from tabletop RPGs. Careful for those D20s, Tina is a crazy game master!
Playing the Pre-Sequel reminded me that I have the game and that I only just stopped playing it a few months ago due to a serious lack of end-game repeatable content. Also it’s pretty hard to comment on any visual upgrade as I played it on my PC (yeah I went there, sorry), which really chewed through the game without any pause. The extra DLC characters that you get are pretty fun, with the Doppelganger causing all sorts of mischief (while giving Jack even more screen-time) and Lady Hammerlock is a badass sniper that really shines if you are playing with a servant or friend. No wait, a servant. Sign this contract you peasant, I have money.
Replaying the starting areas of the two games again showed just how formulaic everything was. The tutorials play out very similarly: getting your first shield, the first boss fight against someone with knuckle in their name, access to powers, powering up the system to allow you to digistruct vehicles. Entering a city and learning where all the facilities are: the bank, black market and stash. It makes sense that your character needs access to these things but it was rather interesting to note.
Both games offer local multiplayer, which is a great way to
keep victims pinned down next to you relax on the couch together and play games like this. In Borderlands 2, 2-player split-screen worked fantastically via a vertically setup, as all necessary elements are still visible without messing with your FoV too much. Borderlands TPS is a whole different ball game. Besides two players in the game using a really claustrophobic, zoomed in FoV, the stutter and slowdown is embarrassingly noticeable. My victim friend said how he liked Pre-Sequel, but that it was far too slow and difficult to aim in. I couldn’t think of a better way to put it in layman’s terms. I expect some slowdown in four player (which apparently plays at 30fps), but problems in two player games? Even in single player the texture pop-in is over-pronounced and slow to load, to the point that some in-game sequences are missing details. Some of this is skipped by little pre-rendered movie clips, but the drop in resolution is pretty noticeable.
If you skipped Borderlands: TPS because you were waiting for it to go to the next gen of consoles, now is your chance. You get two games and a whole large thwack of DLC. If you played it before, unless you have a serious itch for some Borderlands shooty looting, you might want to give this rushed port a skip. Also, what happened to Borderlands 1? Poor game has been left in the dust, making this collection feel like its missing a vital step. Still, there is something mind-numbing, almost cathartic about just killing things over and over and over again, looking for loot, even if its in an overpriced rebranded style of a GOTY edition.