Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!

The Borderlands series, developed by 2K Australia and Gearbox Software, is renowned for its shooter/RPG hybrid gameplay, the first game doing well enough to garner a sequel and spinoffs. Development of another entry of the franchise began after the release of Borderlands 2, this particular title proving an interquel bridging the first and second games, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, which provides an experience on par with its predecessors.

The Pre-Sequel! largely features the same shooter/RPG gameplay as its primary predecessors, not to mention the ability to revive when near death by killing an enemy after all health has been depleted, as well as mechanics dependent of the interquel’s lunar setting, such as different types of oxygen tanks and many zero-gravity environments. Aside from occasional inconsistent difficulty and certain bosses being walls preventing the player from advancing the main storyline (though ironically, this reviewer was able to beat the absolute final boss his first try), the battle engine definitely helps the game more than hurts.

One cannot say the same of control, which is only slightly above average, with the main story missions providing sufficient direction on how to advance, although completing certain sidequests can be difficult without a guide, given things such as obscure hidden switches and the in-game maps not providing information on things such as the location and directions of jump panels necessary to reach areas out of reach. There’s also the matter of limited inventory to a lesser extent, although the player can purchase a limited number of upgrades, and ultimately, interaction isn’t superb but certainly isn’t overly-detrimental.

The story is perhaps The Pre-Sequel’s highlight, occurring between the first and second main entries and having excellent writing containing an Australian flavor and a setting on the moon, with only a few minor errors in the dialogue.

Most Western RPGs, in this reviewer’s opinion, tend not to place as much value on the music as, say, Japanese roleplaying games, with only a few memorable tracks such as the ending themes, although the voice acting is top-notch.

The visuals also utilize cel-shading like The Pre-Sequel’s predecessors, character models and environs looking mostly nice, although there are some occasional graphical glitches that can, especially with respect to the last dungeon, potentially make things difficult to see.

As The Pre-Sequel! lacks an in-game clock, to determine overall playing time is difficult, although this reviewer spent an extensive intervention on sidequests in hopes of triumphing over one boss in the final chapter.

Overall, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! is for the most part a solid interquel between the first and second main entries that hits most of the right notes, particularly with regards to its shooter/RPG hybrid gameplay, excellent narrative and dialogue, good cel-shaded graphics, and top-notch voicework. It does leave some room for improvement in regards to its inconsistent difficulty, confusing level design, unmemorable music, and occasional visual hangups, but is recommended to those that enjoyed other entries of the franchise.

The Good:
+Solid shooter/RPG gameplay.
+Excellent story and writing.
+Nice cel-shaded graphics.
+Plentiful lasting appeal.

The Bad:
-Prepare to die often.
-Some confusing level design at times.
-Soundtrack aside from ending theme is unmemorable.
-Occasional graphical glitches.

The Bottom Line:
Another fun Borderlands game.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: PlayStation 3
Game Mechanics: 8/10
Controls: 6/10
Story: 9/10
Music/Sound: 7/10
Graphics: 8/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Hard
Playing Time: (no in-game clock)

Overall: 8/10

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