GAME REVIEW: BORDERLANDS: THE HANDSOME COLLECTION / DEVELOPER: GEARBOX SOFTWARE, ARMATURE STUDIO, IRON GALAXY STUDIOS / PUBLISHER: 2K GAMES / PLATFORM: PLAYSTATION 4, XBOX ONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
As if the slew of next-gen remasters was never going to end, Borderlands: The Handsome Collection has a lot to live up to, as it needs to please not just hardcore fans of the series but also satisfy and introduce new players to the experience. Thankfully, The Handsome Collection will achieve all that and more, and for some it’ll be like reuniting with an old friend. What’s really surprising and exciting is the sheer amount of content involved: two excellent action-packed games bundled together with twelve different and unique characters, all available DLC, four-player split screen co-op, 1080p resolution at 60fps and transferable saves. All this adds up to an experience that will take you from the surface of Pandora to the moon and back again.
The two games included in The Handsome Collection cover the entire saga of the villainous tyrant known simply as Handsome Jack (voiced with menacing reptilian glee by Dameon Clarke), from his not-so-humble beginnings to the heights of his egomaniacal tyranny. In Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, we witness Jack's rise to power as he leads a team of thieves and mercenaries on a mission to reclaim and regain control of Helios’ space station and defeat the Lost Legion. Then with Borderlands 2, we see Handsome Jack at the peak of his power as the maniacal CEO of the Hyperion Corporation, and it’s up to the renegade Vault Hunters to put a stop to his grand master plan once and for all.
Nothing’s really changed from both Borderlands games, despite the 1080p resolution, 60fps and amped up textures and lighting effects. They are still the same superb RPG adventures with wittily written stories that boasts the most quirky, abrasive and offbeat humour that’s ever been seen in modern gaming with memorably fruity quips, iconic characters (particularly Tiny Tina, voiced brilliantly by Ashly Burch) and insane goofiness. It’s still like experiencing a superbly orchestrated symphony of anarchy and chaos. Being shooters, they still work wonderfully with perfectly engineered gameplay mechanics, but also the skill progression and shear array of weaponry is still some of the best and most fun to be seen out of the action RPG genre. Starting a new character can still be exciting once you get into it, and the crazy skill tree upgrades you gradually gain after hundreds of hours of gameplay still feels like gaining a reward.
While The Handsome Collection is steady, it’s not completely spectacular. Once you’ve chosen which game to play there’s no way you can get into the other game without closing down the application and booting it all up again, which can be very frustrating. Whilst Borderlands 2 has a solid performance level on both single-player and co-op, The Pre-Sequel varies. In interiors the framerate functions perfectly, but once you’re outside, the game struggles to keep a steady framerate in single-player and it’s even worse in co-op. Hopefully, the developers will be able to patch this problem soon. Also, due to complicated reasons, Borderlands 1 isn’t in the set; it’s a shame as that would’ve completed the Borderlands experience on next-gen, so let’s pray this’ll get sorted out in the future. However, these are minor nuisances and inconveniences against a tidal wave of positives.
In the end, The Handsome Collection is the perfect love letter for any Borderlands fan, being a great pickup for returning fans as well as being the perfect jumping-on point for new ones. It boasts the ultimate definitive editions for both Borderlands 2 and The Pre-Sequel, wielding an explosive amount of content, all completely remastered and having the ability to transfer your previous experiences. Considering that this is all for the price of one full game, that's what we’d call a bargain.
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