Game Review: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

So, it’s a couple hours late, but at least it’s fairly consistent.  Here is this week’s Game Review.  This game is a fairly new one, released near the end of last year.  So, without further ado, here’s this week’s review on Borderlands the Pre-Sequel!

Game Review: Borderlands 1 1/2: The Pre-Sequel

ESRB: Mature

Price (360): $59.99 (New)*; $54.99 (Used)*

Genre: Open World First-Person Shooter Action Adventure

I will begin this review by saying I have had mixed views on the past Borderlands games.  In addition to this review, I will also be displaying some form of review on the previous two games (not the Tales From series) – however, the overall review will be based mainly on this game.

Let’s start by delving a bit into the past: I have played both previous games to the end.  The first Borderlands didn’t really intrigue me, excluding the high-octane bullet madness and the bloody, bloody headshots.  All in all, the first game left me wanting more – and not in a good way.

The second game filled up that want, however.  Borderlands 2 took me on a bigger Pandora adventure, and I even ended up playing the game six different times (sometimes with friends) just to try out the different characters.  And it was in this game that I found my favorite psychopathic shooter of the series: Gaige, the Mechromancer.  Armed with a wrench, a robotic arm, and her own murderbot Deathtrap, Gaige is hands-down my favorite character to rip apart enemies and erupt the terrain.

That said, when I heard about the Pre-Sequel getting released, I pre-ordered that bitch on Day One, and went to a midnight release for the first time.  I even hyped myself while I was waiting with the PSV version of Borderlands 2.

Unlike the past two games, The Pre-Sequel takes place off of the planet of Pandora, and instead takes to space with Pandora’s moon, Elpis.  It reintroduces NPCs from the past games as the protagonists this time around: Nisha, the sadistic lawbringer; Athena, the badass Gladiator; Wilhelm, the bulky cyborg; and Claptrap, the annoying bundle of energy and parts.  So far, the only DLC character to be released is Handsome Jack’s doppelganger from 2, and I feel sad looking at him – especially when I compare him to the Psycho and Mechromancer DLCs from the last game.

The gameplay handles much like a FPS player would expect: shoot enemies, drive vehicles, get money and upgrades, and unleash basically hell.  Two new mechanics, which were promoted very heavily pre-release, are the O2 Pack and the Laser weapons.  As previous games took place on a habitable planet, Elpis requires new gear for Vault Hunters: oxygen packs (which can double as gravity increase-rs for the famed Butt Slam), and powerful laser weapons, which emit a stream of condensed energy to melt and murder enemies.  Another new addition is the Cryo element, which allows you to freeze enemies in place, doing continuous damage while stuck.

With all of these new additions, and the popular interest in these new characters, I was very excited to play the game, as I assume most fans were.  However, what I was introduced to wasn’t what I expected.

To put it bluntly, it seemed like the game had fallen back on its roots.  Peons and monsters still swarmed you with the feeling and power of a gnat swarm, jokes seem overused or just plain weak, and bosses were either extremely preparable, or annoyingly strong.  I’ll be honest: it was hard for me to play through more than a few hours of this game – this may be due to the fact that Borderlands 2 set such a high bar, but with all of the hype for this game… I just feel like it should’ve been more.  With the exception of the Cryo element (which I probably have too much fun with), I can’t help but feel this game is lacking something that even the first game had.

This may be an unfair review to those of you who have played through the whole game, but as always, it is my opinion.  You don’t have to agree, nor am I saying it is correct.

With that disclaimer, let’s move on to the Final Scoring:

My scoring for Borderlands:The Pre-Sequel (ESRB M, 360) is as follows:

Story: 3.5/5

Comparative to the other two Borderlands, it seems like a lot of the plot was just borrowed from the other games (which kinda makes sense, but still feels lazy).  Besides that, it seems like a lot of unanswered plot points are still going unanswered.  Or maybe I’m missing something.

Art / Acting: 3.5/5

While the story is lackluster, I still do love the 3D-comic art style.  It gives off the feeling that you are the main character of the story (or, in this case, a major one).  The acting was given a lot more work than past games, as the character you play actually reacts to certain events (such as Nisha flirting sadistically with Jack).  Even so, there are scenes that could be better rehearsed, and every now and then the graphics get lower in quality – its like looking at a clay figure that’s partially melted.

Character: 5/5

To be honest, although I thought the game was mediocre, it does do one thing well – fleshing out the characters from past games as main characters in this one.  All of the characters have backgrounds that can be discovered by finding their audiologs and just by listening to their in-game dialogue (which can be anything from a scream to a monologue.

Playability: 3/5

Had this been the first Borderlands game that I had played, or if the game had just been better, the score would be up one point.  But that is not the case – the few hours of the game that I played were indeed interesting, but not in the way that makes me want to play it again… assuming I ever finish it.

Overall Rating: 70.5/100

C-

Not quite passing, but it is.  I have more resentment for this game than I thought I could for this series, but then, Borderlands is the definition of a hit-or-miss series.  As I said before, it seems that the game got lazy at some point – missions are too repetitive, and enemies are either too weak or too fucking strong.  The good thing about RPG shooters is that when a boss appears, there can be a strategy to take him out – that goes out the window when he constantly hunts you, butt-slams you, and electrocutes you.  However, I can’t say with all honesty that I hated the game – I do enjoy the jokes, and the references to the other games are too good to overlook.

Before it was released, I may have recommended this game hands down.  However, playing it and seeing first hand the mediocrity of the game makes me sad to say that this game is only for hardcore followers of the series, or maybe even someone looking for an interesting shooter who wants to jump into a story within a story.

If you do want to purchase it, I can only say this: either wait for the price to drop, or get it on the Plus/Gold bonuses.  If you really want to get engaged in the series, I recommend the Borderlands 2; it has a fairly big world, nice combat, a good spread of characters, and it has a seperate story from the first game (with bits and pieces here and there).

*Based on GameStop Online prices on January 17th, 2015.

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