Review: Borderlands: The Handsome Collection (PS4)

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Title: Borderlands: The Handsome Collection
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (27.6 GB)
Release Date: March 24, 2015
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Gearbox Software, 2K Australia, Armature Studio, Iron Galaxy Studios
Original MSRP: $59.99 (US), €59.99 (EU), £44.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: M
PEGI: 18
Borderlands: The Handsome Collection is also available on Xbox One.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Borderlands: The Handsome Collection includes Borderlands 2, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and all the DLC for both games, which is a massive amount of content. 2K and Gearbox didn’t include the first game which a lot of people weren’t happy with. Personally I’m fine with their decision as it felt quite different to the other games and didn’t include Handsome Jack.

Gameplay:
For the one or two people who have never played Borderlands 2 I’ll briefly mention that it follows the story of four very different and new Vault Hunters together with some familiar faces from the first game as they battle across Pandora to free it from the clutches of Handsome Jack, the funny, charismatic, and evil CEO of the Hyperion Corporation.

I always thought the cel-shaded style of Borderlands was a way to simplify the game and allow for more action on-screen, a clever little cheat to push the game engine further. But then I look at this PlayStation 4 version and it’s definitely not the case. Enemies, characters, and objects have so much more detail and shading now, soft tones and colors make things feel more organic and real than many other games. Wisps of purple or blue smoke softly rise into the air from the elemental damage your newly found shiny gun emits. Light bounces off the dents and scratches on your gun that just weren’t there on the older version.

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This version isn’t just cosmetically better, it now feels smoother and faster. The increased precision and comfort of the DualShock 4 together with the higher frame rate makes it feel far superior than the PS3 versions. I don’t think I could ever go back and can’t see any reason why anyone would want to. I’m not going to go into detail about Borderlands 2, if you want to know about the particulars then I suggest checking out the PS Nation review by Josh Langford.

The Borderlands series has always been about getting some insane weapons and killing lots of enemies and both of those things have never looked better in The Handsome Collection. Plus you can carry over your save games from the PS3 or Vita and continue from where you left off. All the downloadable content is included with campaign add-ons like Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate’s Booty, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep, and playable characters Gaige the Mechromancer and Krieg the Psycho. Then there are the challenge arenas, customizations, level cap-increases and so much more it’s insane. What’s even crazier is that some of it is yet to be released in the Pre-Sequel season pass content.

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Just like me, many people held off on getting Borderlands the Pre-Sequel in the hope that it would come to the PlayStation 4, and it did in this collection. This story lets you find out about Handsome Jack and his rise to power. Set on Pandora’s not-so-sparse Moon you’ll use low gravity jumping and laser beam weapons to your advantage to take on the crazy lunatics who inhabit this hostile environment.

… never looked better on a console …
The Pre-Sequel has all the usual components that make it feel like a Borderlands game but with a few new dynamics, some old faces, and a fresh new storyline making this package worth the price tag. Watching a vanquished psycho float off into space because you’ve shattered his visor with a well-timed headshot never gets old, nor does a gravity slam into a group of enemies causing them to be flung in every direction.

Because Borderlands the Pre-Sequel was developed by 2K Australia it has a slightly different feel to the experience, a fresh and exciting look into the Borderlands universe from a different perspective. Having the game set on the Moon allows for some unique and brilliant weapons, vehicles, and gameplay mechanics that only make sense because of their locale which also explains why they don’t appear in the ‘sequel’, Borderlands 2.

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Having no oxygen in the majority of the open areas with the exception of a few domes and oxygen-spewing craters dotted around the landscape it becomes a mad dash to these safe havens or a murderous killing spree to collect any oxygen tanks they drop. Later on in the game it isn’t so much of a concern but it still remains a great gameplay mechanic throughout, as does the low-gravity jumping and double jumping at the expense of some of the precious oxygen. Combine that with a powerful and satisfying ground-slam attack and you have a very different style of game that retains all the fun of the originals.

2K Australia has also thrown in some very different characters that not only have a unique skill set but are great additions to the Borderlands story and are just as much fun as the older characters. I played the first hour or two as Wilhelm the Enforcer and then started another game and picked Athena the Gladiator. She has a Kinetic Aspis shield that absorbs the energy from bullets being fired at her and then after a set amount of time is flung toward an enemy, unleashing all the built-up energy in a devastating hit.

I found the overall story to remain the same no matter what character you choose but the occasional comment or remark of the NPC’s to be quite different and often funny. I have yet to complete the story for Borderlands the Pre-Sequel but think it’s a great addition to the series and I’m glad I waited to experience it on the PlayStation 4.

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Both ports – Borderlands 2 by Iron Galaxy Studios and Borderlands the Pre-Sequel by Armature Studios have been done to a high standard and I have yet to see any problems or issues. The in-game wrapper they come in is a slight disappointment with only the logos to choose from but that’s just me being picky. Remote Play to the Vita is good but you have to change the control scheme to the ‘Resistant’ preset otherwise it’s unplayable, just remember to change it back afterward.

… awesome four player local co-op …
Visuals:
Borderlands has never looked better on a console and now has the crisp and clear high frame rate that we’ve all longed for. Textures look ten times better compared to the old PS3 version. I don’t think I could ever go back to it now. Sadly it still has the odd moment of screen tearing but it isn’t that often and certainly doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the game.

You still see a gradual drop in detail as you look into the distance but the clarity extends much further now on the PS4. Even when looking down the scope of a sniper rifle at a distant target the visual fidelity is impressively high. It almost makes the older generation versions become a dirty, muddy, and in some ways, feeble attempt at how these games should really look.

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Audio:
Perfectly brilliant writing and voice acting oozes out of every character including the humorous and bizarre comments from the enemies as they charge toward you. My favorite character makes a return, the crazy Claptrap who has some of the best one-liners in the game. I agree completely with Josh when he mentioned several times on the podcast and even in the Borderlands 2 review, that you need to play through these games on your own the first time so you don’t miss any of the brilliant dialogue.

Online/Multiplayer:
Four player split screen plays very well if you have a large enough television and enough friends. I played it extensively a while ago when I was invited down to 2K. It’s very enjoyable being able to sit next to the other players as opposed to online co-op since we could easily glance at one another’s screen and all laugh and joke about the same things. I’m not saying the online play is bad, far from it in fact, but I do feel you lose a bit of the fun factor when you’re miles or even oceans apart from the other players.

 

Online play is just as good as the older versions in that it’s great and quite streamlined. You can have friends drop into your game or all join in a lobby before setting out together. The difficulty changes depending on the number of players and their level so it might be a good idea to make sure you all are roughly the same skill levels.

Conclusion:
Even if you have played these games to completion on the last generation systems I still think Borderlands: The Handsome Collection is worth getting. You’ll pay a slightly reduced price for a collection of two fantastic games and all their downloadable content, with a visual upgrade that looks great and almost feels like a new game when compared to the now stale looking last generation games. How could I not mention the awesome four player local co-op that makes me want to drag random people from the street and sit them down with a controller, it’s that good.

There is no doubt in my mind that this collection is a steal, a sale-of-the-century, an absolute must-buy bargain and don’t you dare kid yourself in thinking it isn’t. Put it this way, if 2K had just released Borderlands the Pre-Sequel and all its DLC for the same price I would have grabbed it and been perfectly happy with my purchase. Instead 2K added Borderlands 2 and all its DLC as well. Then they made it fantastically simple to move across our save games and never look back.

I sat here for just under two hours trying to think of a reason of why this amazing collection doesn’t deserve the score I gave it. As you can guess, I found none.

Score:
10

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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