It’s the dream of every gamer surely to get two games for the price of one. Its an even sweeter dream when each of those games comes with every bit of DLC included right? Well dream no more because that’s exactly what the Borderlands Handsome Jack collection delivers.
Amongst the season of remaster after remaster being released many titles offer little value to the consumer but the Handsome Jack collection offers more than a pile of riches. The Handsome Jack collection includes two games both huge in size Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. The collection includes all the DLC for both titles and that’s well a huge haul to include and this is no skin pack garbage DLC its full on awesomeness DLC from Story add-ons and characters offering hours upon hours of additional gameplay. Included at launch was the new DLC for Borderlands the Pre Sequel – Claptastic Voyage which offers the opportunity to play as Claptrap! This is probably the perfect time to jump into the Borderlands Universe if you managed somehow to avoid it.
For the first time in the IP’s history gamers can now tackle the games in a chronological order. Many may ask what should I play first? Well Borderlands the Pre Sequel was released at the tail end of 2014 however (clue in the title) its based before the events of Borderlands 2 despite Borderlands 2 releasing in 2012.
For those not in the loop on the story you play as a vault hunter on the world of Elpis and you chart the rise of Jack to handsome Jack. These events lead onto Borderlands 2 but just incase you haven’t played either these we wont spoil what is a highly enjoyable story. Familiar faces will make their appearance from the Borderlands Universe and 2K Australia whom developed this instalment done a great job in linking the stories narrative whilst delivering excellent dialogue.
As with all Borderlands games Humour is never far from the surface and 2K australia mastered this just as well with Aussie accents and ridiculous side quests from even a spot of Cricket in space! Nothing is of limits in Borderlands and thats partly what makes it so fan to play you should just expect the unexpected at every turn.
The Handsome collection Delivers so much content with all the DLC included within the game.you will be playing this game for a long, long time.
The best parts of the story are some of the characters they are just so bizarre, cheesy and eccentric, for example there is a side mission with the lovely Captain Chef in which you have to help him claim Elpis (The main setting in the game) This side mission will see you help the Captain hoist a Flag which at one point you have to stick a broom under his arm to help him keep his salute going as the flag rises. The only issue I have with the story is that some of the pacing is of and players will find themselves going backwards and forwards and perhaps unsure where the next event is. This is also true upon finding some bosses, you may find the difficulty curve takes a spike which leads you to retreat and go wander and come back until you can take on the boss. Yes it helps you explore the world further but it also takes me out of the story immersion and this backtracking typically is poorly signposted and well in places non existent . Despite this the Boss fights in particular are very enjoyable and will deliver some of the most memorable experiences playing through this collection.
The gameplay in the Handsome Jack collections is still brilliant and that shows clearly with games like Destiny have borrowed many of its features. The hit pointers are still just as much fun with critical hits giving you a great feeling of reward. Borderlands isn’t just a straight up shooter, there is a level of depth that is greater than many other RPG’s the levelling system and bad ass points will see you sink hours of playtime to perfect your perfect loadouts and character abilities. This in itself will keep players continuing to play through the game waiting for the “Level Up” to jump across the screen. The Pre Sequel makes great uses of its environment with Moon scenes and the requirement on the player to change up their play style to stay alive. From jumping in Zero gravity to conserving oxygen. Its easy to forget that Borderlands is heavy on vehicles and within this collection the vehicles still handle brilliantly and offer plenty fun mimicking some of the movement controls found on games like Halo and the Warthogs. Although the handsome Jack collection doesn’t deliver anything new on this front we found the performance levels were certainly a bit smoother during the single player campaign.
The cartoon style of Borderlands is one to admire and the Handsome Jack collection offers some 1080p Hi-res textures to feast your eyes on. On the new consoles this is great for utilising those screen shot features and game DVR clips something you simply couldn’t do on the last gen versions. Returning players may not notice a huge difference but it does feel more crisp and eye popping on the screen. Graphically it aint flawless despite its awesome style. I found in parts especially upon loading that backgrounds would pop in randomly and some textures were a bit sceptical. Performance is incredibly smooth up until you have a bash at Co-Op where I found a little bit of a performance dip. The biggest dip however is in the local 4 player co-op where heavy action scenes will really hinder the games performance. There’s usually so much going on at any one moment on screen that multiply that by four delivers noticeable lag and frame dips during those hits on enemies where numbers don’t quite bounce of the way your used to. Hopefully this is something that 2K may patch in time but we wont hold out for it. 4 Player couch co-op is a unique and not often seen feature these days but I wouldn’t recommend it for this title there’s just simply too much going on visually for you to see what your doing with quarter of a screen and when we gave it a go chaos and confusion inevitably ensued. We didn’t find these issues in Borderlands 2 however and it ran perfectly throughout and didn’t encounter the same frame rate issues we seen in the Pre-Sequel.
The Audio quality in this game is excellent, There are lots of accents, beeps and bangs which gives the world some audio variety. One of my favourite in-game sounds is the horn on the stingray hovercraft, Hilarious. Some of the enemies sounds are quite amusing too, There are many different weapons in this game and sometimes games can be let down by guns sounding too similar although borderlands has done a very good job of making lots of different unique noises for different weapons. The stand out in the sound department as with all Borderlands titles is the Voice acting its wacky humour are second to none. Soundtracks in both games are decent but this Collection sees nothing new arrive with it which is a tad disappointing.
The online experience on the Borderlands collection is still great and probably the game is bests experienced in those co-op sceanrios where you and up to four buddies can tag team it. Better yet you can join at any level so for example if somebody is level 40 and your level 6 and you join their game, your in for some sweet XP gains. This and a tone of loot of yes Loot how did we also get to the end of this review and not mention loot. Borderlands is full of it and offers you heaps of variety. Trading this loot with your buddy is also a nice mechanic maybe this is something titles such as Destiny will incorporate in time.
If you haven’t played any of the Borderlands games yet but fancy something new, wacky, hilarious, long with a heap of DLC and gun toting brilliance then The Handsome Jack collection comes highly recommended by me. It’s no surprise games that have appeared post Borderlands have copied and replicated many of its mechanics this game is a winning formula across many fronts and I encourage you to pick this up after all its essentially Buy one get one free here!
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