Review by GamerGuy2014
To the Moon!
Ever since Borderlands 2 came out it has been somewhat unclear when the third installment in the series is happening. Until the developer, Gearbox Software, officially announces Borderlands 3, developer 2K Australia, with assistance from Gearbox, is easing the wait with Borderlands: The Pre Sequel.
As the title suggests, the game is a follow up to Borderlands 2, but storywise, it is set in between the events of the first and second game. Before the villain of the second game, Handsome Jack, made his rise to power and tried to destroy Pandora; he was just an employee at the Hyperion Corporation that wanted to be known for something more. When the Hyperion Corporation's space station is taken over by General Zarpedon and her forces; Jack sees this as an opportunity to become a hero if he manages to stop Zarpedon, before she can use the space station's laser to try and destroy Elpis, the moon the space station orbits. He contacts four vault hunters, each of which was a side character in the first or second Borderlands, to help him stop Zarpedon. However, over the course of the story Jack's plans change and he goes on a downward spiral, and by the end credits he will become the man that will try to bring an end to the planet Pandora.
The best part about the Pre Sequel's story is arguably Jack himself, as he initially wanted to be seen as a hero, but by the end of the game he becomes the one thing he was trying to stop in the beginning. In fact, the end credits song, "What Makes a Good Man?" perfectly fits Jack in this game. In previous Borderlands' games, the vault hunters were basically silent protagonists, however in the Pre Sequel, the new vault hunters actually speak with other characters and as such they are more involved in the story. One problem I do have with the story, however, is that at times it can feel like story events are just flying y, and while the game isn't short, the feeling that the story is just coming and going will happen a couple of times.
The gameplay is largely the same as it was in previous installments; in particular this game is based off of Borderlands 2's gameplay as a number of improvements and additions that were made in that game are carried over here. However, the Pre Sequel does introduce some new concepts that help give the gameplay variety. The biggest addition is the concept of zero gravity. Since the game is mainly set on the moon Elpis, zero gravity has been introduced and it makes traversing the environments rather fun as you can make some long distances by jumping off of cliffs or using one of the many jump pads scattered around the environment to get around. You can also perform a slam attack when you get up in the air and press the crouch button, which will cause your character to slam down to the ground with extreme force. Plus, there's something fun about getting up in the air and picking off enemies from above, and then slamming down right on top of a foe. However, you do need an oxygen tank if you want to avoid dying of asphyxiation and fortunately having to maintain a supply of oxygen never felt tedious as enemies will drop oxygen canisters and there are numerous beacons located around Elpis which can be activated to generate an oxygen dome.
Two new types of weapons have been introduced in this game: laser weapons and cryo weapons, and they easily fit in with the series' massive amount of guns. There are also two new vehicles introduced as well, a lunar rover and the Stingray, which can hover briefly and slam back down. I mainly used the Stingray for transportation as the lunar rover's steering felt too loose, and often I would slam into walls.
Of the four characters that you can choose to play from in the Pre Sequel, I chose Athena the Gladiator. Her special ability is deploying a shield that can protect her from gunfire and store up enough damage from bullets and explosions to kill an enemy when it is thrown. She is a fun character to play as and her shield was rather useful In certain boss fights during the game.
The cel shaded art style is still prevalent in this installment and the overall visuals are solid. At times, some of the locations in this game are quite interesting to look at, however there seems to be a bit more pop in than usual when compared to the previous games, and there were some occasional framerate drops as well during some of the firefights. I also encountered a couple of glitches. The first one happened during one of the rounds in the Shock Drop Slaughter Pit DLC, I was opening a locker to loot what was inside only to get stuck to the door of the locker and unable to free myself from it. However, I was able to kill most of the enemies in the current wave until one of the remaining enemies managed to kill me. Another glitch that occurred was when I returned to a previously explored area to complete a side mission, for some reason the audio from when I went to that area to complete a story mission started playing for an inexplicable reason.
The voice acting is really good and the writing is as good as Borderlands 2's writing. The most interesting thing about the writing and voice acting in this game is the noticeable Australian influence. Most of the characters you meet, as well as the citizens and enemies of Elpis, have Australian accents, which was an interesting change. The music is also a different change of tone from the music in previous games; there is a strong outer space vibe present, in other words, a lot of synth.
While Borderlands: The Pre Sequel doesn't really break new ground for the series it is still an enjoyable game thanks to a solid story and fun gameplay with new concepts introduced to help keep things interesting.
Product Release: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (US, 10/14/14)
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