“Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel” review

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What’s better than moon jumping across a barren landscape while firing a shotgun that shouts expletives louder than the roar of its muzzle? Not a whole lot. Except maybe “Borderlands 2.”

While “Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel”  may not be better than its predecessor/successor “Borderlands 2,” it does have its strengths. Going in to detail about the events of Handsome Jack’s rise to power, “BTPS” tries to make you think about what you’re blasting as you carve out his seat of ill-gotten-gains. The new crew of vault hunters Wilhelm, Nisha, Athena and good ol’ Claptrap are out to wreak havoc on the moon of Pandora, Elpis.

It’s hard to pinpoint just what’s off about “BTPS.” It feels like a “Borderlands” game with tight controls and smooth handling. The humor flows like liquid water, of which there is none on the moon full of ice geysers and molten rivers pushing through the cracks and craters.

The guns come in a myriad of colors and strengths, with funny names and descriptions. They start off in small drops of weak damage dealers and progressively get more and more fun with those nice rare blues and purples.

Monsters of all kinds dot the landscape and the new scavenger offers quite a challenge in firefights. The sidequests are varied and take you all over the newest location of the “Borderlands” universe.

But what’s off about it? It feels arbitrary. It feels like it knows that this game was expected and they tried just about as much as you’d expect a company to try when they farm it out to a satellite developer in Australia.

That’s not to say that 2K Australia did a bad job. They delivered a “Borderlands” game and all that that implies. It’s fun, funny, definitely full of stuff to do and full of challenges.

What they didn’t do is deliver a game that feels like a followup to “Borderlands 2,” like “Borderlands 2” was for “Borderlands.” There’s nothing added to the series, other than just some story filler.

And that’s really what this game is, the expanded universe for “Borderlands.” And that’s fine. But that’s all it is. Fine.

I don’t find myself laughing and being thrilled at the prospect of this game like I was for “BL2.” I just feel like this game is there for the sake of being a “Borderlands” game because it’s been a while since “BL2” came out.

There’s also some technical problems. Z-fighting between walls shows some of the textures struggling for dominance against each other where the walls meet. But that’s when the textures actually pop in like they’re supposed to.

Some of the levels feel overly long and it’s taken a lot longer for my character to actually get the four gun slots like they had in “BL2.” I was level twenty before I got my fourth gun. Not that this is a bad thing, but it felt like an awfully long haul to that point, not to mention that it was quite an anti-climactic reward for leveling up.

As for characters, Nisha feels ridiculously overpowered. I haven’t even tried a different character purely because she can clear a room like nobody’s business. Grab some Badass Points and put them in recoil reduction, gun accuracy and gun damage? She’s a walking, talking sociopathic death machine. Her entire build can make you feel less overwhelmed in a room crowded full of soldiers. And like I said, that’s just Nisha.

Look, I’ll concede that the game is good. It’s well made, it’s got a good legacy to go with it and it hits all the right points. It falls flat on polish, interest in side quests and tedious levels.

If you know all of that and you’re still willing to pick the game up? Good on you! You’ll enjoy it a lot and have yourself a “Borderlands” blast. If those are things that’ll irk you while you play, then you might want to wait a bit for this installment of the franchise to lower in price. It’s available on PC, Mac, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 now.

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