Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! review - ridiculous guns in space, what more could you need?

£44.99; PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Mac, PS Vita; 2K Australia

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The Independent Tech

Has it got awesome and weird guns? Yes. Has it got irreverent humour peppered throughout? Yuhuh. If you’re a fan, the latest addition to the Borderlands franchise is just what you want.

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! takes places in-between the first game and Borderlands 2. The narrative is mostly a kind of origin story for Handsome Jack – the villain in Borderlands 2, but the pre-sequel paints him in a better light, before he goes super evil. Oh, and it’s also set on Pandora’s moon.

The game starts off as you’d want and expect it to, you’re in a spaceship, there are four of you – gloriously, this time you can play as the overly friendly robot helper, Claptrap. You pick your character and fight your way through to Jack. While this is happening, in short cut scenes and audio bursts, you’re being treated to the future. In the future you’re tied to a post with a past group of Vault Hunters questioning how you got there.

Borderlands is often not the kind of game which requires too much attention – you can easily get by with following the map and shooting everything that moves, and the story can be quite convoluted and, in truth, quite dull at times. The way they’ve peppered it up, depressingly, seems to be having every female character you meet being impossibly endowed and uncomfortably dressed.

 

The story itself often feels like it has elements of BioShock in space – if you continued with the Ayn Randian themes, this is the sort of free-for-all society that hard-core libertarians think is some kind of basic human nature, it’s porn for people who think the Wild West was a majestic time without government intervention.

There are also a lot of Australians. This would make sense, the game having been made by 2K Australia, but it sometimes feels like everyone else on Pandora thought it better to put all the Australians on the moon.

It's the moon which also gives us the newest gameplay feature – Oxygen. You can run so far without but once you’re out, health starts depleting and vision gets gradually darker. Stored oxygen can be used for other things too – gliding to make already low-gravity jumps bigger and pushing up before slamming to the ground and startling enemies.

There is something about the game that feels a bit smaller, like it’s more of a side-game than a real franchise member - its placement in the story doesn’t help that. Fortunately, the gameplay is solid as ever and the myriad of ridiculous guns and upgrades can leave you spending far too long fussing over which combination to pick – it’s still a lot of fun to shoot people.

Toning down the irreverence might have helped, but with games like Sunset Overdrive on its way out soon, we might see a resurgence in the lazy side of that humour. But if you want to electrocute people with your shotgun or set people on fire while you’re already machine-gunning them down, you can’t go wrong with Borderlands.

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