Ben Rayner reviews Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel…
Before I make a rather bold, or perhaps not so bold but rather expected statement, I want to clarify that I’ve enjoyed hours of Borderlands and was more than an advocate of the series from its inception to its glorious sequel. Now, onto that bold statement. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is an unnecessary entry into the series. That being said, its not an awful game by any means as it offers a fun romp around the moon, blasting the faces off everyone and their mother as you would expect from the series. But while Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel offers more of the same fun with a few nice additions, its biggest problem is exactly that. Its more of the same so Its difficult to say without a shadow of a doubt, that this is worth a purchase, unless of course you are a rather hardcore fan of the series who is just itching to get their fingers onto some more from the cel shaded, nut ball first person shooter.
The key problem here is unfortunately its lack of story, or at least that of a satisfying one.
Set smack bang in the middle of Borderlands 1 and 2, The Pre-Sequel is crafted to tell the story of Handsome Jack, the man you may remember as a devious villain who served as the architect to your demise, or at least the attempt of said demise, during the course of Borderlands 2. Still as sarcastic as ever, but perhaps not yet so evil and twisted, Jack is working for Hyperion as guardian of the Helios Station, which has now conveniently been hijacked. This is where you come in, you vault hunter are hired by Jack to negotiate the recapture of the Helios Station and save the day.
As you cruise through this galactic adventure, you’ll realise as I did that while the cast is flush with crazy characters and comedy set pieces, theres no new information here which you wont already know about Handsome Jack or the borderlands universe from playing Borderlands 2. Sadly this feels like a complete miss fire
What about the good stuff, I’m sure you’re wondering. Well, you’ll still be running around the map killing and looting in ever more creative ways and while the feel of your weapons hasn’t changed at since you last played a Borderlands game, the low gravity effect of being on the moon Elips, is amazing fun. Leaping and floating about, dolling out gun fire like its going out of fashion.
Breathing in space is obviously a problem, so when you’re given an oxygen tank, you’ll also have the option to spend a little in order to double jump, which in itself may seem trivial but the balance of risk versus reward really adds another dimension during busy and important fights, forcing you to weigh up wether that double jump is worth the risk of choking if you’re not fast enough or run into more trouble than you expected.
You’ll find oxygen tanks and air vents dotted around though, so as long as you don’t go all Rambo on the battle field, you shouldn’t have any trouble surviving on the moon while jumping to your hearts content.
This added verticality, the hot trend in first person shooters right now, really tries its best to bring something new to the table and in many ways it succeeds, within minutes of getting out onto the open moon, I was jumping around like a jack rabbit and found myself flying over obstacles rather than through them while trying to land a few well placed headshots, which when you’re low on health and ammo, is always a good strategy.
You’ve got a ground pound of sorts at your disposal also, simply fly up as high as you can and come hurtling towards the ground at breakneck to pace to send a wave of damage to the foes around you. You could always land directly on an ugly mercy head if you fancy a laugh or go with 2K Australia’s personal favourite and freeze your foe solid before crushing him into ice cubes for that drink you ordered.
The character classes offered seemed to focus more on group efforts this time around, perhaps thats just because this was the first time I played at length with a full group, but each character offered something unique to the team and you could even mix their play styles around solo.
Athena, working as the groups tank of sorts, is a gladiator who really bulks up defence around your team, with a rechargeable shield that not only absorbs damage, but throws it back out at unsuspecting enemies. Wilhelm, who is pretty much your typical soldier/engineer with turrets aplenty, is the first to move from standard gun placements to wielding two deployable robot birds who will fly around you dealing out damage and healing you too! Makes me think of that saying, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush? So imagine what 2 robot birds in the hand means! You’re going to need a bigger bush!
Nisha, the Law Bringer, does pretty much what you would expect someone dressed as a sheriff to do, she shoots things and her powers beef up her shot so she’s uber fast, extra powerful and the precision in her aiming is far beyond on point!
The best character for me and I know many will agree when they spend time with the game, was easily claptrap. Not just because you can finally play as that loveable robot fool (IT’S CLAPTRAP!!) But because the madness in his words and stories transfers into his skills! Running on some new, and rather buggy, software called VaultHunter.exe, each time you use your main skill, you’ll be given something at random. From a Gunzerker mode which give you unlimited sub machine guns which explode when empty, or handing you a flaming unicycle with spikes on its wheel to grind up your challengers. I was even treated to a mini claptrap that for a short time, followed me around dealing out the punishment! Nice!
You’ll notice that your team will be granted random boosts periodically, all thanks to having Claptrap on board and if he throws up his hands for a high five, anyone who doesn’t leave him hanging gets a massive defence and health boost! Although, leaving him hanging is pretty fun and possibly worth the forfeit…at least once..
So what am I saying about Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, its amazing fun and has a lot of fan service in there to bring you back into the universe at least one more time but its problem lies in the fact that I can only see it appealing to those die hard fans who want more and more and more and more an…. you catch my drift.
Think of this as perhaps the biggest piece of DLC you’re likely to be delivered and you’ll be fine! If you’re looking for anything else, maybe some huge changes and additions, don’t get your hopes up.