GAMER’S CORNER: A PREQUEL TO A SEQUEL

With cartoonish art and a unique gameplay style, the Borderland games have succeeded in capturing the attention of millions of gamers worldwide.

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

Developer: 2K Australia, Gearbox Software

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, Steam OS, PS 3, Xbox 360

With Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, 2K aims to deliver a game that not only pleases their existing fans, but also helps them in scoring new ones. Does it succeed at that? Let’s find out. Essentially a prequel to Borderlands 2, BL: The Pre-Sequel talks about a Hyperion programmer Jack recruiting a team of Vault Hunters to, well, hunt for the vault. Wait, Jack? Yes, the game follows the sarcastic underdog Jack on his path to becoming the sarcastic super villain, Handsome Jack, whose lunatic and humorous conduct was a major reason for the success of BL2. But his craziness is possibly the only thing that Jack misses in this prequel.

He’s as sarcastic as ever, and not to forget, just as sadistic. This is portrayed brilliantly with witty dialogues and hilarious antics of the characters, be it of the four main protagonists, or the NPCs. Talking about the characters, the game lets you play as Wilhelm ‘The Enforcer’, Athena ‘The Gladiator, Nisha ‘The Lawbringer’ and even Claptrap who has finally been made playable.

Each character has his/her own skill tree and frankly, they are so varied and so fun to play with that they are almost enough by themselves to keep you hooked onto the game. From a shield that can absorb and rebound bullets, to a gun that deals damage even as you reload, the skill sets include familiar as well as new and innovative additions that help you tremendously along the 20-hour long gameplay. That gameplay, on the other hand, is not so entertaining. Sure, all the elements of combat that have come to define the Borderland series have been retained, along with the addition of a few minor changes, but that’s about it.

The developer has thrown in a new gun or two, just for good measure, while keeping the rest of the gameplay relatively similar to that of BL2. The 20-hour campaign seems to drag as you find yourself spending loads of time just moving from mission to mission. The huge map definitely doesn’t help in this instance. Apart from that, the introduction of low gravity certainly does help in combat, but again ends up lengthening your gameplay as it now takes several seconds to complete a leap, and at times the anti-gravity feels a little too exaggerated. All in all, a story that could be wrapped up in about 15 hours ends up lasting much longer than that.

To make things worse, the plot – though interesting – is poorly executed with sub-par narratives, repetitive side missions and weak mission design. The only factors that keep the story bearable are the clever dialogues and managable character development.

The character animations are snappy, and the game sports that trademark Borderland design, but that isn’t enough to keep me from accepting the game doesn’t cross any frontiers, at least on the graphics front. Sure the game is only meant for last generation consoles, but the graphics don’t seem to have improved from BL2, though the detail put into the environment of Pandora’s moon, Elpis, is definitely worth appreciating. It would be an absolute crime to talk about a Borderland game and forget to mention the loot system.

The loot system is still extremely fun, and the vast variety of guns, mods and customisation that is offered by the game is simply jaw dropping. Though the loot system may seem terribly lenient as you find yourself being rewarded with the craziest mods for completing the simplest of tasks, there is no denying that it makes the game a tonne more fun.

Verdict

While diehard fans of the series will not at all be disappointed by this instalment, more casual gamers may find themselves a little less satisfied due to the similarities between BL:The Pre-Sequel and BL2. All in all, even though BL:The Pre-Sequel looks and feels more like an extension pack or a DLC of Borderland 2, there’s no denying that it absolutely succeeds in providing the fan service that it wishes to offer.

SOURCE: MUSCAT DAILY