Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel
Alright, let’s get this out of the way real quick: Have you played any of the Borderlands games before? Yes? Was it Borderlands 2? Yes? Good, then read on. If you haven’t played Borderlands 2, then you should definitely go play that before you call in sick from work for a few days just to play the Pre-Sequel. Chronologically, the events of the Pre-Sequel occur before the events of Borderlands 2, however having the background information of the latter certainly makes for a less jarring introduction as the Pre-Sequel deals with Handsome Jack’s rise to power. With the player taking control of one of four recognizable characters from the previous games (Nisha, Wilhelm, Athena and Claptrap) the characters take to Helios Station and Pandora’s moon (Elpis) under the employ of the man who would eventually become the antagonist of Borderlands 2.
The Pre-Sequel has advertised itself as bring a new style of play to the Borderlands series by incorporating low-gravity combat along with a limited oxygen supply, thereby sending the player leaping across the map as they go from oxygen source to oxygen source while fighting off the native hostiles. There are upsides and downsides to this as the jump pads placed around certain levels make for a fun time spent sailing through the air while going full-on-rambo on the surrounding enemies. However, the only real mechanics involved with this added function is primarily jumping through the air, using your oxygen supply to boost you and then using said supply to perform a “butt-stomp” attack on your enemies. Which is exactly what it sounds like. So really it’s just a novelty that wears off pretty quickly unless you’re having fun with the jump pads as most of the time you won’t be able to get enough height to make for an effective butt-stomp attack which just ends up making for some really clunky fighting.
There’s really not too much to say, The Pre-Sequel shares many traits with its predecessors, so it’s very much a Borderlands game. In that fashion it can feel like if you’ve played one then you’ve played them all. Approach an NPC, get a mission, travel here, kill X amount of Y for Z and repeat. The main quirks which sell The Pre-Sequel are very much the same as the quirks for Borderlands 1 and 2: a wide variety of enemies to match the game’s excessive catalogue of weapons, followed by a cast of absurd enemies and allies with an entertaining script to boot. It’s a formula that works well and it complements the Pre-Sequel with just as much success as its predecessors.
The Pre-Sequel’s story is pretty solid, while not exactly reaching for the stars in any respects, it is entertaining and it holds together. Unfortunately its means of storytelling is pretty redundant as several twists occur at the end of different missions simply for the sake of paying off the player for their effort. The problem with this is that it eliminates the actual value of having a twist as the player grows to expect it and the problem further develops when a very clear disconnect forms between the actions of the main characters and the supporting characters (eg Lilith, Roland and Moxxi) who go on to become key characters in Borderlands 2 who make some pretty significant impacts on the story. As a result, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel can quite easily shift from being exciting and funny to boring and repetitive in a very temperamental way. Though for me, the game’s well-practiced sense of humor and its incorporation of Australian humor are where it really shines. Even if just from the perspective of confusing foreigners with Aussie slang as that never grows old.