Sunday, 15 June 2014

Borderlands 2 [PS Vita]

When the PSP was released there was one huge flaw in its design; it only had one thumb stick. Though this may not seem that much of a big deal at first, this led to any first-person title awkwardly utilising the square, cross, triangle and circle buttons in place for a second thumb stick. This literally led to any first-person PSP title being a complete chore to play, which naturally sucked the life and enjoyment out of a game. However, Sony learnt their lesson from the PSP, and with the advent of the PS Vita came the inclusion of dual thumb sticks. Granted it was expected, but in terms of design it's a massive step up form the PSP, as now first-person titles didn't control like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube while drunk.

Developed by Iron Galaxy Studios and out now on PS Vita comes Borderlands 2, a game that tries to perfectly replicate its console counterpart. You see, as many of you know Borderlands 2 was originally released in 2012 for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, under development by Gearbox Software. Since its release it has gotten a good few bits of DLC content, but somewhere down the line there came a decision to bring it to the PS Vita. Handing over the reigns to Iron Galaxy Studios for this port, Gearbox Software's goal was to make it an authentic Borderlands experience. Did they succeed?

Set five years after the events of the original Borderlands, you once again you land on the planet of Pandora and take the role of a vault hunter, which is essentially like Indiana Jones... but in space! I know, pretty awesome, right? Though finding vaults is your initial mission, you ultimately end up going toe-to-toe with Handsome Jack, the wonderfully named villain of Borderlands 2, and ruler of Pandora itself. Handsome Jack has big apocalyptic plans for Pandora, and you step in to end his reign of suave terror.

Chances are if you're reading this review you want to know how Borderlands 2 on the PS Vita is different compared to its console original, as opposed to a general review of the game. To put it simply; in terms of content it's a perfect replica, but when it comes to visuals it's sadly mediocre. This hand-held version of Borderlands 2 retains the essence of the game, which focuses its gameplay; blending both the first-person shooter genre, with that of action role-playing. Through using a huge array of devastating weaponry, the player is able to fiddle around with their character’s skill tree. In using the skill tree the player can gain new abilities, or even improve their handling of various weapons. It almost creates a new genre within itself, leading to gameplay that is fun, robust and suited for a number of different play styles. But while this version does indeed feature the meat of the original Borderlands 2, it's missing quite a lot that made it so special.

I have two major complaints here. Firstly, the graphics, though impressive for the PS Vita, are pretty as screen-shots but almost fall apart when in motion. The frame-rate drop particularly during the last half of the game is pretty significant, mostly while in the heat of some pretty intense shoot outs. This ends up crippling the game, while other problems even extend to the textures throughout. Whether it's that of a location or character model, Borderlands 2's textures on the PS Vita often look muddy, dull and a massive downgrade from its console daddy.

Overall Borderlands 2 for the PS Vita is passable. While it does contain the entire console Borderlands 2 experience in the palm of your hands, it does so at the expense of the visuals and frame-rate, both of which are lacklustre. These problems won't kill your gaming experience, but they'll put your patience to the test.

Borderlands 2 just about cracks the vault and gets a 3/5.


Denis Murphy

Borderlands 2 at CeX

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