Borderlands: The Handsome Collection… Here we are again, another remaster from the last generation of consoles. This time, it’s the turn of the Borderlands series. The big question is – Should you spend your hard earned cash on it?
Well having played it, there are plenty of reasons why you should.
The Handsome Collection is Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! The sad omission is the original Borderlands not being included, but the story of those games we do have revolves around Handsome Jack, while the first Borderlands had a different main protagonist. Still, it would have been nice to have the complete trilogy in one collection, but hey ho, there you go.
The Borderlands games are first-person shooters with RPG elements mixed in. Each enemy has a health bar, which degrades when you shoot them. This is represented as floating numbers popping off them as each bullet hits home. You level your own character up with skill points and badass tokens as you progress, enabling you to assign different perks dependent on your character class.
There’s 6 characters to choose from in this release, previously being 4, and this time you can choose to play as Claptrap, the annoying mono-wheeled robot whose been around endlessly clapping his trap since the first game.
Running around a level, you will notice lots of the crates, mounds, boxes and lockers lying around just waiting to be looted. It often feels like this constant stopping interrupts the flow of the game, slowing down your progress. However, it is wise to rummage through them as the crates do tend to reward you with pick-ups you need like ammo or health and running out of either during a firefight won’t end well.
A lot of time is also spent in the inventory of Borderlands games, comparing your guns, shields etc. for maximum effect or general housekeeping in order to free up some needed space. Though none of the guns are based on real-life weapons, they have had a lot of attention lavished on them and are a main focus of each game. There are pistols, rocket launchers, machine guns, shotguns, sub-machine guns, and laser rifles.
Each gun has outlandish designs that look awesome. They have stats for damage, accuracy, fire rate and much more. The guns can be found in different colours and range from standard to rare. You need to be a certain level to wield them, so as you level-up you will find you outgrow a beloved gun, but chances are you will find a similar gun at a higher level. That said, you’re just as likely to find a more outlandish gun and never look back. Guns can have elemental affects too, adding fire, electric shock, acid or ice or effects to the bullets. If this sounds a lot like Destiny, then it’s because it is, just remember the Borderlands games have been around a lot longer.
Fortunately the majority of the time is spent fighting enemies and that’s a good thing. They tend to put up a good fight with their A.I. Seeing them ducking for cover, lobbing grenades or berserkers, charging straight on in, screaming. There’s a huge variety of enemies from humanoid bandits of varying sizes, through robotic loaders to ghastly creatures which come in all sorts of shapes and sizes including a badass rank which is a huge pumped up variant of the above enemy who may have an elemental effect for good measure. I sat back on one stage and watched as a couple of bandits fought it out with a flock or Rakks (flying creatures which look a lot like a flying stingray). The Rakks won out and then turned their attention to me! It’s this sort of thing that breathes life into the game world.
Boss encounters look delicious due to their new coat of hi-res paint. The game cuts to them and slows to a pause to introduce them with their name emblazoned across the screen like Knuckledragger a huge Bullymong creature and a subtitle, “This is gonna hurt”. When you beat them, they usually drop a useful item once you’ve defeated them – either a weapon, shield, or a grenade along with health and ammo.
The levels can be vast, sprawling affairs and humping back and forth can be aided by using fast-travel stations dotted around levels. If you’re looking to earn XP, though, then jumping into a vehicle is the way to go. The vehicles handle great and can come in all shapes and sizes, be it 4-wheeled or hover types. They come equipped with gun turrets, rockets, lasers and nitro boosts.
The series has never taken itself seriously and there’s usually a stream of incoming wisecracks from whichever characters are speaking to you, plus character animations like a dwarf bandit being knocked on his arse from the recoil of a shotgun.
If, like me, you never finished Borderlands 2, then the extra crisp hi-res visuals of the PS4 remaster is certainly one reason to return. The cel-shaded graphics appear super-sharp and vivid, hitting home that there’s an enhanced version of the game sat in your next-gen console or current-gen (depending on whether your late to the PS4/Xbox One party that’s been raging for over a year now). I did find one slight oddity when I opened a crate – the textures would look blurry for a second before gaining their clarity, as if the textures needed to decompress, but that’s the only fly in the ointment of an otherwise perfect package.
Further incentive to purchase comes from cross-save, being able to transfer your save from the PS3 or PS Vita to PS4, and Xbox 360 to Xbox One, so you can continue the fight with your previous character. I put this to the test by up loading my Vita character, and, yup I was able to download it on my PS4 and continue my mission. I wasn’t dropped right back where I left off, rather I was put back at an outpost and had the same mission outstanding.
A lot of people may have missed Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! Its original release, in October 2013, was at an unfortunate time when people were readying to switch from their last-gen consoles. I remember looking for it on both Xbox One and PS4, and at the time not realising it was only released on X360 and PS3. So if you missed it the first time like I did now, this is your chance to pick it up with the added bonus of all the extra content to sweeten the deal.
The series is even better when played in co-op. Having 4 players completing the campaign is just more fun than completing the game on your own. If you have friends like mine, you will find yourself playing on your own anyway to sneakily level your character up as they do the same for bragging rights. You can also drop weapons for your friends to beef up their arsenal, which is a nice touch.
There are a few differences to the gameplay mechanic of the Pre-Sequel to the games setting being on the moon. Gravity comes in to play soon enough, allowing you to collect an 02 kit which allows you to double-jump with a boost and slam down to do some damage to those in near vicinity to you.
So there’s a vast amount of content on one disc. I’d have bought this for the Pre-Sequel alone, having missed it the first time. I already own Borderlands 2 on PC, Xbox 360, PS3 twice on PS Vita! (I thought I’d lost my first vita so bought another Vita and a copy of Borderlands 2 only to find the missing Vita and game again – D’oh!) Yet the bonus of owning this disc is having the definitive version of Borderlands 2 as well as the Pre-Sequel. And the season pass for the Pre-Sequel is the cherry on the cake.
If you’re a fan of the Borderlands series, then this is a worthy purchase… and if you’re not, then why the hell aren’t you!
- Publisher: Take 2 Interactive
- Players: 1-4
- HDTV options: up to 1080p
- Dolby Digital 5.1 sound: Yes
I’m all about the Games and Gadgets. Rumoured to have been born with a mobile phone in his hand. (It’s not true. It was a Gameboy) You want to know more about my business? You better invest in it then hadn’t you.