Monday, November 17, 2014
Game Review: Borderlands the Pre-Sequel
In the last few years, Gearbox has become one of my favorite gaming companies for one reason: Borderlands. The elements they choose to include int heir games are so well thought out that these games end up being instant classics. When my wife bought her first PS3 we sat there in Gamestop with my buddy Brett for about an hour trying to find the best possible game for her to start with. We went back and forth between many titles, and ended up going with Little Big Planet which ended up becoming her second favorite game ever, but one game Me and Brett kept going back to was Borderlands. We knew nothing about it, but something about the art style and game box kept drawing our eyes back. To this day I have played every installment multiple times and been at midnight releases patiently awaiting a quench to my borderlands thirst. This is the third game in the series to be released and appears to be something for borderlands fans to sink their teeth into while waiting for Borderlands 3 and Battleborn. For those of you looking to buy this game, I think you should definitely check it out. There are enough new features to keep you enthralled for hours.
At first I wasn't too thrilled about this release, because I thought it was a cop out while waiting on B3. I actually didn't research this one too much, due to the fact that at first I wasn't really interested. I was pleasantly surprised with what they added to the game play that spiced things up a little. The first change I noticed was the addition of a new type of weapon: the laser gun. At first look I responded with a Meh! because in these games I mainly run assault/combat rifles because I like accurate yet constant damage. I played through most the game until I got about 75% of the way through the campaign. You end up getting a gun from Moxxi that is a laser gun. I am not kidding when I say I used this gun all the way to the end and carried it over to next play through. At times the guns can be a little jumpy because some of them are a continuous stream like in Ghostbusters. It isnt a gigantic game change, but it is enough to break up the monotony of shuffling through the same gun types.
There also is a introduction of Oxygen tanks. At first I didn't even really notice this change due to who I was playing. When you get to the outside environments in Borderlands TPS, you have to have a constant supply of oxygen to survive. Now I know what you are thinking: Why does it run out so fast? That is because they also added a boost mechanic to your jumps. Me and my wife would take off running from one side of the map towards the opposite time, while talking and enjoying the game, and we would be shocked when I ended up at the objective 2 times as fast as she did. Well it turns out that we weren't paying attention when they explained the oxygen tank. When you jump and hit the same button again you will get a short boost in whatever direction your going. Now I always just spam tap jump when I'm traveling somewhere so I didn't really notice but it really started to come in handy once we tried using it skillfully. Sometimes there is that need for a little extra boost to make it to that weapon chest or even safety, and now you have that little boost you need. Of course this is all only possible if you keep your oxygen topped off which can be done through many different ways and honestly isn't too hard to keep up with since dead mobs drop oxygen as well. The last thing about oxygen is the smash. If you hold down crouch when in the air, you will slam down on the ground inflicting damage to anyone in the immediate area. Eventually you are given unique O2 kits and even a legendary one through a quest chain. These kits can sometimes have elements on them which really come in handy, especially if you get the freeze element. I think gearbox took a really cool realistic angle in making O2 work in making it necessary for human enemies to have it as well. Shoot a bandit in the face and pop his O2 tank and he will slowly chose to death. Also, fire wont be set to anyone unless they are in a oxygen bubble since we all know oxygen is a big part of fire, so I felt they really put a lot of through into this aspect. The O2 tank is different to start with, but eventually you will get used to managing it and hardly notice the downsides, although I feel if I go back to a previous game, I am really going to miss it.
Now this is the first game to be done by 2K Australia, and within minutes of playing the game this is very evident. I loved having the new dialect and accents of everyone in the game but I found myself lost sometimes in what people were talking about. A couple of months ago, I ordered Cards Against Humanity and without paying attention, ended up with the UK version. Yeah the game is still fun, except for the fact that I don't really understand about 10% of the cards in the deck. I feel the same way about this game sometimes. I still feel it is funny and unique in its own way but just a heads up on what your going to be hearing. I found myself googling a lot of terms in order to know what the quest givers were talking about. I feel 2k Australia really knocked this one out of the park in so many ways. They really made enough changes to keep the game fresh but at the same times making it feel like a classic Borderlands game. After 30 minutes of playing I found myself asking: Why did we kill Jack? He isn't that bad at all! Well, as you go through the game, you start to see him unravel and crack at the seams. They made the story interesting enough and left the game wide open for Borderlands 3.
Like in most games in the series, you will find yourself looking for the rare legendary weapons. This game introduced a new element to the game in that respect: The Grinder. You take 3 weapons and you toss them into the grinder with hopes of creating a legendary or simply a gun better than what you put in. You have the option to put in Moonstones as well, which is the eridium equivalent in this game, and increase your chances. I quickly found that if you put 2 legendaries in with a purple of whatever gun you like, a legendary of that gun type would pop out. This was a great way of farming weapons because in this installment, legendary drops aren't similar to other games. Some legendaries are drops from certain mobs but most of them are farmed from either vending machines or the raid boss. The grinder is nice because it gives you more options with legendaries. I feel that the grinder, paired with drop locations like the previous game would have made this game much better. Maybe I'm just spoiled in knowing certain mobs drop certain items.
One of the new elements in the game is the freeze element. In most games, I feel there is a must have element. Freeze replaces slag but it isn't a must have like slag was. this is the first game where I feel the elements are pretty equal. Sometimes one element is going to be better but in most situations it doesn't really matter. I like it when there aren't cookie cutter specs in games and players are gives real freedom over how they play. With elements, this game is really on the mark. Freeze is by far my favorite element in the series so far. I played Willhelm and was specced into the improved melee ability, so I ended up being able to freeze a badass mob and kill them in one punch. Freezing can be using for damage or just pure crowd control and is a must have on your O2 kit. Slamming 10 mobs around you and watching them all turn into ice cubes really is a beautiful thing to see.
The characters in this game are really interesting and have some familiar elements to them but with a lot of new options as well. Probably the most appealing choice in the bunch is Clap. Fans have been waiting for years to be able to pilot the most iconic character in the series. When me and my wife first started the game, I picked Clap and spent time customizing how me looked. Take note that there is a timer in this part because funnily enough, before you make your selection there are several warning messages trying to talk you out of choosing him. Although I think he is more of a team player rather than a solo player, I still feel like most of this part was just a joke to get you laughing as you start this awesome game. My wife went with Athena, and prior to this game she had always played Sirens. She took a while to get used to Athena's shield because you have to charge it and aim and throw it but soon she got a hold of it and was killing things before I could even get to them. She also found solitude in the fact that you can throw it and revive friends on the fly which is a nice reminder of phaselock ressing in the previous game. My sister chose to play Nisha and for the first week told me how powerful she was. It wasn't until I actually played her that I really got to see what she was talking about. Nisha is the powerhouse of this game, and it very reminiscent of Salavador. If your looking for a dual wielding guns blazing class then she is your match. Lastly Willhelm, which is the class that I picked for my "Main." Willhelm is the pet class and kinda reminiscent of Axton/Roland. He has a tree that actually alters how the character looks and starts to turn him into a robot. This is the tree I went with and all around he is a really strong choice for a character. All characters are fun and I am very eager to see what they add in the future.
In closing, I think this game is a very good option for returning veterans as well as new players. They added a lot of new things to the game and even though at times it may feel like a rehash, there is more to it than that. The new creatures, weapons, zones, vehicle, and bosses all are really refreshing. There is some really cool story elements at play and a lot of answered questions. I think the game will be popular for a long time to come because there is a lot of re playability to it. My advice is take it slow, there will be plenty of time to see everything and do everything. Burning yourself out i'snt going to lead to a fun experience.