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Review: Borderlands Remastered – Game of the Year Edition (Xbox One)

8.5

Great

2009 was an exceptional year for gaming. It saw the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Uncharted 2 and Batman: Arkham Knight and they all set benchmarks for games of those genres to follow. Gearbox came at us with a brand new IP that didn’t really promise to change the way we perceive RPGs on console. Nope. They created a game that would be so different yet so familiar at the same time, and deliver it in a graphical package that set it apart from just about anything else in that year. And it’s quite cheeky of them to re-release it 10 years later with GotY in the title. This time they’ve upped the resolution, done some tweaks here and there to balance performance and, surprisingly so, made it possible to relive the same experience in higher fidelity all over again.

More! More meat for me!

When getting off the bus and being welcomed by the eternally humorous Clap Trap, it feels almost intuitive to start planning your Vault Hunter class build, the specific loot you’re looking to equip, the order in which you’re going to complete missions. It feels comfortable, familiar, and just right. Nothing seems out of place or changed to an extent where it’s no longer recognisable. Everything is where it’s supposed to be with some additions here and there, coupled with the dynamic colour range with HDR enabled.

The best feature has to be in the inclusion of the minimap in the top right of your screen, as some would remember only made an appearance in Borderlands 2. It might just be me, or the fact that the first time I played it was on Xbox 360 and a 5.1 surround sound system, but there seems to be some audio tinkering with this version. I remember struggling to hear dialogue over background noise and in-game music. A dynamic lowering of certain sound levels occurs when talking to NPCs or listening to audio logs now. Even the sound the vehicles make while driving are lowered when you start blasting enemies with the cannon.

Strip the flesh, salt the wounds!

With that said, there were instances where Tannis‘ audio logs would just cut off and you’d sit there in confused silence. It’s not a big deal because you can always just replay them. Inventory management, the thing that used to take up most of your time as you scan through your catalogue of items, has received a needed tweak and allowed you to enter, navigate, change, and exit menus quicker and with relative ease. No more getting downed while trying to painstakingly figure out which elemental damage weapon will melt the enemy in a clunky menu system.

Picking up loot from the ground is also somewhat responsive which could be due to tweaks to mechanics, or the more powerful platform the game has been built on. A button press does what its meant to do and does it well. The only crack in the near flawless package that becomes noticeable when trying to blast everything to kingdom come around you, is horizontal screen tearing when spinning around from one compass heading to another. The visuals don’t slow down to a cringing stutter, although a slight drop in frames is visible now and then, but the horizontal slicing of the image does bring your head to a questioning tilt wondering how that could be possible on this day and age. It doesn’t happen while making directional shifts at a normal speed (I play on very high sensitivity), so the overall experience is just dandy. It does rear its head when you try and do a 360 no-scope on a Skagg while jumping off a cliff though.

Vehicle physics was never one the game’s strong points and remains virtually unchanged. It could be the control scheme thats just hard to get used to though.

Come on, catch a ride!

All the DLC receive the same treatment, and even Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot, which used to be hard to stomach due to the performance drops when the screen is filled with enemies and explosions going off everywhere, is an enjoyable experience. The same goes for The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, The Secret Armory of General Knoxx, and Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution. All polished up and ready for chaos.

For anyone looking to get into the Borderlands series, this is a great starting point. This is the best version of the first instalment of the game, both visually and technically. A great way to get you ready for the much-anticipated release of Borderlands 3 on 13 September 2019.

Hell yeah.

Good

  • The art style looks even better in higher resolutions
  • Loot system and mechanics improved
  • Gunplay is smooth and precise
  • Surprisingly quick loading times
  • So much loot!

Bad

  • Some screen tearing here and there
  • Sound cuts out while listening to audio logs
  • Not enough storage for all that loot

Summary

One wouldn't think you'd be venturing into the dystopian universe of Pandora ten years later. But, here we are, and still as enjoyable as the first time around. The ramped up resolution and increase in frame rate does the cel-shaded art style justice and makes the environmental artefacts pop. This is marred by some screen tearing when swivelling your view around quickly, but with everything happening on screen, you'd be hard pressed to find that a bug that will make the experience less enjoyable.
8.5

Great

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