Villians and unconventional Heroes. Art style Graphics and unique humour. Enough loot to make a Pirate weep with Joy. From the moment Borderlands first appeared it has been like a breath of fresh air for the FPS genre. Borderlands: The Handsome Collection serves as a compilation for the current-gen consoles, with one exception. The original Borderlands is not included. The reason for the exclusion is probably evident from the title. The Handsome Collection focuses on the infamous villain Handsome Jack. Since Jack didn’t appear in the first Borderlands it does make sense from a storytelling perspective not to include Borderlands, however there is still that part of me that would have loved to be able to play all three games in one easy to swallow package.
For those of you not that familiar with either of the two games here is a brief run down.
In Borderlands 2 you are taken back to Pandora. You’ll discover some seriously bad enemies and some genuinely insane characters ready to help you out along the way. There is one bloke who you’ll quickly come to realise is extremely messed up, that’s right, it’s Handsome Jack. Jack is charismatic but deranged. He is an extremely memorable villain, ready to make a mockery of vault hunters every chance he gets. The storytelling in Borderlands 2 is first rate and full of hilarious and memorable moments. There is loot aplenty and experience points ready to be dished out with every enemy kill and mission successfully accomplished. As you make your way through Pandora you’ll be well on your way to creating the most powerful vault hunter possible.
Borderlands: The Pre-sequel goes back in time a wee bit, based smack bang in-between the events of Borderlands and Borderlands 2 (hence Pre-sequel). For the most part you’ll be doing your thing on Elpis, one of Pandora’s moons. Oxygen and Gravity are both at a minimum on Elpis which adds it’s own unique twist to the Borderlands gameplay. You’ll need to find Oz Kits to fulfil your oxygen needs and lower gravity means that battles can be from the ground or floating around. The Pre-sequel tells the tale of how Handsome Jack rises from Programmer to Tyrant. It is a great story to discover but ultimately it feels much more like a Borderlands expansion than its own stand-alone game.
Breaking the traditional FPS mould, Borderlands games always feature a story that encompasses an entire map as opposed to levels. You’ll leave no stone unturned across the entire map in order to progress your character and the story at hand. It’s this style of gameplay that takes some inspiration from the MMO genre. You could say that the Borderlands franchise is one of the early pioneers of the FPSMMO sub-genre.
With no PvP style multiplayer to be found, the series is solely focused on delivering an amazing campaign experience. No PvP doesn’t mean you can’t play with friends, co-operative play is not only encouraged but is the ultimate way to play. Catering for up to 4 people co-operatively means that you and your friends can get right in there and experience everything these games have to offer. You’ll be able to farm XP and experience the high and lows with your friends in real-time. Whereas most co-op friendly games still remain at their best as a single player experience, you’d be doing The Handsome Collection and yourself a disservice playing solely on your own.
I’m sure I won’t be alone when I say this but DLC is, for the most part, a dirty word for me. There is nothing that gets my blood boiling more than paying full price for a game, then realising that a whole bunch of awesome content has been excluded in order to make me pay even more to get my hands on that content. The good news folks is that The Handsome Collection includes all DLC, not just the historical stuff but also the future DLC for The Pre-sequel. Side missions, level cap upgrades, outfits, challenge arenas, anything that has been an add-on is included in The Handsome Collection which further adds to the value for money proposition.
When it comes to the visuals, The Handsome Collection with its own unique style looks great on PS4. Borderlands 2 has been been a fresh coat of paint and it looks better than ever before. Amongst the many unique qualities of the series, the comic-book art style is right up there. At first it can take some getting used to but it is a style that really grows on you the more you play. It really does feel like playing an interactive comic book. Where the visuals really come up trumps is in that sharpness and fine detail. The Handsome Collection boosts 1080p at 60 frames per second. Incredibly it’s Borderlands 2 that holds up much better than The Pre-sequel. Borderlands 2 is a smooth experience from start to finish. Unfortunately The Pre-sequel has more than its fair share of difficulty with maintaining a smooth frame rate. It is terrible but compared to Borderlands 2 you will notice it from time to time.
Borderlands 2 was an excellent follow up to Borderlands. Borderlands: The Pre-sequel is probably the weakest game in the series, feeling more like an expansion than a complete game. When all is said and done though Borderlands 2 and The Pre-sequel bundled together makes for an excellent value for money package, especially considering all add-ons are included. Whilst it does feel strange having a Borderlands compilation without the original Borderlands this is ultimately the tale of Handsome Jack and it makes for an excellent tale to experience all over again on PS4 or Xbox One.
- Excellent Value for Money
- Memorable Characters
- Great Storytelling
- Brilliant Co-op Gameplay
- Pre-sequel fells more like an Expansion
- Some Frame rate issues in Pre-sequel