Condemn O.R. Condone – Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (Xbox 360)

Screw Pandora! Lets go to the moon!

Borderlands-The-Pre-Sequel-Will-Get-Playable-Handsome-Jack-DLC-457514-2

Borderlands and Borderlands 2 rank as some of my favorite games of the last several years, due to their fantastic blend of the FPS and RPG genres. It’s such a cool idea to have a heavy action game with an arsenal of weapons that many other FPS titles could only dream of having, but then also giving the player stats and bonuses that continuously improve as the player progresses. Borderlands 2 took everything that made the first game good and made it even better, but what can The Pre-Sequel do that hasn’t been done before already?

The Pre-Sequel gets its silly title as a result of the fact that the game takes places in between Borderlands and Borderlands 2. You control one of 4 characters that each have their own unique classes and abilities that you upgrade through experience points, who happen to have been NPCs from the previous games in the series. This time we’re following the escapades of Handsome Jack, witnessing him go from a goofy dude with a big plan to the evil SOB that we know him for in Borderlands 2.

While the story of The Pre-Sequel offers plenty of laughs and situations that had me thinking, “WTF?”, it definitely didn’t hit the highs of Borderlands 2. While Handsome Jack was the highlight of Borderlands 2 and is definitely one of the highlights of this game, the story of his descent into evil is very predictable and one-note. You’re basically just a pawn in his scheme while he screws other people over for his own gains, with your character just going along with it all and not really giving you a say in any of it. It would have been cool if there were branching paths in this narrative, because there were times when my character was just happily going along with the evil that Jack ordered and I definitely wouldn’t have gone that route on my own. It’s to be expected considering there is already a story that this game needs to line up with, but just a bit more freedom in the narrative would have gone a long way.

The supporting cast is also partially to blame for the overall story not being as compelling as previous games, as some of the characters are down-right irritating. Janey Springs is the engineer in this game and has a hyper-obsession with Moxxi, which grows old pretty fast thanks to her boring dialogue. A similar character in the game is named Pickle, who’s cockney-accent seems to be the sole thing that the writers were going for in terms of actual humor. The one addition to the cast that is great, however, is Nurse Nina. She is a huge woman that has a very intimidating presence, and her blunt dialogue mixed with her accent results in plenty of laughs. Other characters from previous games return for The Pre-Sequel, like the aforementioned Moxxi, Lilith and Roland, but they’re mostly on the backburner.

If you have played either of the previous Borderlands games then you exactly what to expect in terms of what the core experience is. You will travel across various new areas completing missions for various characters that will reward you with experience points and loot. The characters and scenarios that you will find yourself in will often be zany and hilarious, and the amount of loot that you will come across over the course of your adventure is mind-blowing. This is a well-oiled machine that still works really well for the series, as the continuous stream of better and better loot is seriously addicting.

However, The Pre-Sequel aims to shake the gameplay up a bit by introducing low-gravity gameplay. Considering this game takes place on Elpis (Pandora’s moon), you will find yourself often in situations where you are jumping and then floating around like an astronaut. This results in some interesting new styles of battles as you take aim at your enemies only for them to jump into the air and float around like a dang balloon. You can also perform a new move called “Butt Slam” that allows you to jump into the air and then come slamming down on your opponents and deal area damage. While these new gravity physics can be fun, often times I felt that it made some battles more of a nuisance due to things slowing down a bit while in the air. You also have to collect O2 kits to replenish your O2 as it depletes steadily over time, which can get a little annoying even though the game is always giving you opportunities to replenish it.

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The new characters themselves are a lot of fun to play as, having the option to control either Wilhelm, Nisha, Athena or even Claptrap. I used Wilhelm primarily in my playthrough, as he brings with him an action skill called Wolf & Saint that is truly devastating. When you activate the action skill Wolf flies out and shoots your enemies and Saint hangs back and heals you up. Nisha is a classic gunslinger characters that brings with her wild west stylistics and moves, while Athena has a shield that can be used both as protection and as a weapon. The craziest of the bunch, of course, is Claptrap. His range of moves change depending on the current situation, though you never know whether or not they will be helpful or just stupid. If you’re looking for pure chaos in your gameplay, your best bet is Claptrap.

Each characters has an extensive skill tree for you to put points into to improve various stats and abilities. Just like in other Borderlands games, these skill trees really allow you to tailor your characters to your style of play. The further you go into the skill trees the more new crazy abilities you will unlock, so leveling up as much as you can is definitely recommended if you want fill out those skill trees. This can be done more easily by taking part in the game’s various side-quests, which usually involve going from point a to point b and killing something or collecting something. They are by no means quests that will offer some of the best content that the game has to offer, but you will get to witness more zany character dialogue and scenarios, so that is pretty much worth it alone.

While Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel doesn’t reach the heights of its predecessors, it still brings plenty of the same awesome gameplay and dialogue that the series is known for. It may not tell a story that offers a ton of perspective on the events leading up to Borderlands 2, but just getting an excuse to hang around with the always-charming Handsome Jack again is fine with me. I only wish that the new low-gravity gameplay was fleshed out more than it was, as as it is it’s nothing more than a quick new coat of paint on the same gameplay. Still, regardless of its shortcomings, if you were a fan of either of the other Borderlands games then you will definitely find a lot to like with this pre-sequel. Yes, pre-sequel is officially a word now.

RESPECTABLE

Author: Mike Guarino

On the internet I am known as the one who operates everything on Condemn (OR) Condone. Some have questioned whether or not I am a wizard, but trust me, dear reader, I am but a man!

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