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April 26 2015
Borderlands The Handsome Collection - PS4 Review
Release Distributer Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
27/3/2015Take Two2K GamesGearbox Software
Armature Studio
Iron Galaxy Studios
Version HDD Install Resolution Touchpad PS4 Exclusive OFLC Rating

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Borderlands: The Handsome Collection is a fantastic, some would say essential, PS4 release.
It is said that the jump to a new console generation is a scary time for developers - development costs have never been higher, and new IPs are anything but a sure thing. To fight against this uncertainty developers release "remastered” versions of popular last-gen games, because they know for a fact there is an audience for them. The latest in a long line of such titles is Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, which brings together Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and Borderlands 2, along with all of their DLC.

We've already reviewed both Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (reviewed here) and Borderlands 2 (reviewed here) here at Futuregamez, and considering the games themselves are largely unchanged we won't go into any great detail about them, and will instead focus on what's new in The Handsome Collection.

If you're wondering where the title "The Handsome Collection” comes from, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and Borderlands 2 combine to tell almost the full story of Handsome Jack - the villain with an hilariously barbed tongue – from origin to... Well, let's not spoil anything. Even though it was released after Borderlands 2, the Pre-Sequel, as its name suggests, tells of Handsome Jack's origin, so if you haven't played either game before I recommend you start there.

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Character design is Borderlands is great.
So what's new in The Pre-Sequel? First off there are two new characters - Jack "The Doppelganger” and Lady Aurelia Hammerlock - bringing the total number of characters to six. The Doppelganger is a clone of Handsome Jack whose special ability is to release a pair of "Digi Jacks”, ensuring Jack overload. Lady Aurelia Hammerlock, or "The Baroness” as she is known, is the sister of Sir Hammerlock, a character we met in Borderlands 2. Her special skill is to throw out three shards that attach to enemies and deal constant Cryo elemental damage.

The next addition is The Shock Drop Slaughter Pit, something that came free to anyone who pre-ordered The Pre-Sequel. The Slaughter Pit missions are given to you by a hologram that looks a lot like M.Bison, and the goal is to survive five waves of enemies to receive a unique prize. It's fun while it lasts, but that's not very long.

The first piece of DLC released for The Pre-Sequel was The Holodrome Onslaught, which is actually really light on content. Like the Slaughter Pit it's an arena where you have to survive waves of enemies (six waves this time) to receive a unique reward. There is a bit of a story here, bringing Gaige and Axton (two of the characters from Borderlands 2) up to speed with the events of The Pre-Sequel, but probably the main draw of the DLC was that it upped the level cap from 50 to 60, as well as dropping a stack of all new loot.

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4-player split-screen in Borderlands PS4.
The final piece of Pre-Sequel DLC, which was released on the same day as The Handsome Collection (and as such is not on the disc, so you're saddled with an 8GB+ day one download), is The Claptastic Voyage. In it you are sent digitally inside the mind of Claptrap to recover a piece of technology for Handsome Jack.

Claptrap's mind starts off looking like a cross between Tron and The Matrix, with colourful floating pathways leading you deeper into his mind. As you walk around Claptrap chats with you, giving you some insight into what makes him tick (hint: self-loathing and deliberately cringe-worthy jokes are prevalent). After a while the landscape changes to something much more familiar - areas from the original Borderlands, before returning to the kind of fragmented craziness you might expect from Claptrap's mind.

One interesting part of the DLC is the all new Glitch guns, which have a chance to "glitch” when reloaded. The glitching is easy to see as the gun will temporarily look like a string of binary numbers before returning to normal, though with a slight colour change. If your gun glitches with a red colour it will fire more projectiles and deal more damage, but fire rate is reduced. A yellow glitched gun fires really fast, but has a chance not to consume ammo, or have ammo returned straight to the clip. A green glitch increases the number of projectiles but also uses extra ammo per shot, while the blue glitch adds damage at the expense of your shield, which continuously drains.

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Like the weapons, enemies are varied.
On balance Glitch guns are interesting, but not always a lot of fun. Green and Blue glitches for example, are more of a nuisance than anything else. The red glitch can be useful, and yellow is handy (especially on rocket launchers), but barring a particularly lucky roll you'll probably return to normal, reliable guns before long.

The Claptastic Voyage introduces a few new enemies as well as modified versions of enemies from the main game, a ton of new loot, and bumps the level cap up to 70. That last part – bumping the level cap to 70 – certainly adds legs to a game that thrives on multiple playthroughs and farming bosses which scale to your level.

Moving onto Borderlands 2 you'll notice the DLC offerings are quite similar to The Pre-Sequel's. That's because the structure was so successful in Borderlands 2 (originally released before the Pre-Sequel), Gearbox decided to use it again in The Pre-Sequel.

There are two new characters – Krieg the Psycho and Gaige the Mechromancer – bringing the total character roster to six. Psychos are regular enemies in Borderlands 2, and Krieg is a suped-up version. He focuses on melee attacks and, depending on which skill tree you develop, they can actually become more powerful than guns. His in-your-face melee approach is appealing for those with a gung-ho attitude to combat, and he's different enough from all the other characters to be a breath of fresh air.

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This Collection includes the main games, and extensive DLC.
Gaige is a high-school student whose special ability is to control the incredibly powerful D374-TP (Death Trap) robot she created. Gaige has a number of extremely useful skills, not least of which is, "Close Enough”, which causes her bullets to ricochet towards enemies off any hard surface, which is so successful that it nearly renders aiming irrelevant. Combining that with other skills, then tossing D374-TP into the mix, actually makes Gaige one of, if not the most, powerful characters in the game.

The Creature Slaughterdome, another arena where you fight off five waves of enemies for a reward, is included, as are the two upgrade packs which boost the level cap from 50 to 72. The Digistruct Peak Challenge - an area filled with incredibly tough enemies – lets you reach OP (overpower) level eight, which boost the level cap to 80 for those brave enough to scale the peak multiple times.

All five "Headhunter” DLC missions are included. These missions, which have themes such as Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, are very brief story missions that culminate in a boss fight. They're generally as funny and entertaining as the main story of Borderlands 2, and serve as a temporary distraction and also a source of all-new loot. That loot scales to your level, and like all bosses in Borderlands 2 those in Headhunter missions can be fought as often as you like, giving you ready access to cool new loot at whatever level you are.

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As a shooter Borderlands is pretty fantastic.
The four major DLC releases from Borderlands 2 are, to no-one's surprise but everyone's joy, also included. Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate's Booty sends you to the desert town of Oasis in search of booty. There are a whole lot of new enemies to fight, an all-new tier of weapon (Seraph), a new vehicle (the sand-skiff) and, of course, a bunch of new NPCs.

Mr. Torgue's Campaign of Carnage introduces the amazing Mr. Torgue, one of Borderlands' most memorable characters. Mr. Torgue is the wildly over the top presenter of Torgue Arena, which, like much of Borderlands' DLC, lets you fight of waves of enemies for all-new loot. It's a little light on content compared to the other story DLC, but Mr. Torgue is so much fun you probably won't notice. Plus some of the new weapons here are excellent (Slowhand FTW!).

The third DLC is Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt, which sends you into the savage Aegrus region to hunt loot. Full of tough new enemies like the Witch Doctor, which can support nearby enemies by healing or leveling them up, or simply dish out major elemental damage on its own, Aegrus won't give up its treasures easily. There is a ton of new loot, some of which is among the game's very best, so it's well worth your while to venture into the wild.

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Audio visual presentation in the game is impressive.
The final, and widely considered best DLC, is Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep. Here, Tiny Tina and the characters from the original Borderlands sit down to play the Borderlands version of Dungeons and Dragons. The enemies are those you might expect in a game of D&D, including orcs, dwarves, spiders, skeletons and wizards. Tiny Tina narrates your adventures, and the excellent script does an amazing job of fleshing out Tiny Tina's story, turning a seemingly psychopathic young girl with a penchant for exploding things (mainly people), into someone you actually care for.

Assault on Dragon Keep is everything DLC should be – it's lengthy, wonderfully written, re-skins Borderlands in perfect imitation of Dungeons and Dragons style, adds a host of epic new loot, and most important of all – features Butt Stallion in the flesh!

As you'd expect from a PS4 game the visuals have been improved since last-gen. This is not the total revamp GTA V dished out, but it improves draw distance, while environments look crisper. It now runs in Full HD resolution (1080p), generally sustaining 60fps. One exception to this is when the game is played in the all-new four-player split-screen mode, where the resolution drops to 720p, and a frame rate of 30fps.

Borderlands has always thrived in multiplayer, and as we just mentioned it can now be played with four people, either online or locally. Finding online players is as easy as selecting the "Find Game” option from the main menu, and with PS4's party chat you can chat with your new friends while you play.

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Taking on yet another tough enemy.
Playing couch co-op with friends is a bona-fide blast, but it comes with two small caveats. First, each controller plugged into the PS4 needs its own Playstation profile. You could theoretically sign in as a Guest, but doing that will delete all save data for that player when you turn the PS4 off. That's not palatable, so if each player doesn't have their own PSN account already you'll have to sign them up for one.

An annoying side-effect of this (and this is a Playstation issue that occurs in all games, not just The Handsome Collection) is that if you have multiple saved characters from the PS3 games, it's not possible for you both to play as them. I played co-op through Borderlands 2 with my friend, all the way to level 55. Our characters can be uploaded into The Handsome Collection (huzzah!), but only one of us can access them because they're locked to a single profile. This seems a massive oversight from Sony, but it's the system we have, and it forced my friend and I to start an all new game rather than continuing from level 55.

The second caveat is that the menu screens you use to select weapons, look at the map, allocate skills etc, don't scale with the size of your portion of the split-screen, which makes the menus extremely hard to use effectively. It's not a game-killer, but it is, to paraphrase Marsellus Wallace, pretty freaking far from ok.

Outside of those two co-op related issues, there really isn't much to complain about with The Handsome Collection. Borderlands 2 is one of the best games available on PS3, and The Pre-Sequel was both under-played and under-appreciated. Unless you played Borderlands 2 and all its accompanying DLC to death the Handsome Collection represents excellent value, and should be a straightforward purchase for anyone with even a passing interest in hilarious and over the top first-person shooters.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSBorderlands' unique comic-style visuals make a return – now running at 60 fps and sharper than ever.
SOUNDThe voice-acting remains top-tier, and the sound effects are everything you could hope for.
GAMEPLAYBorderlands remains one of the most fun games available on consoles. If you haven't played them before, do yourself a favour.
VALUEThere is a genuinely ridiculous amount of content here that could easily keep you busy (and entertained) for months.
OVERALLThe Handsome Collection is a polished reproduction of two Borderlands games that gives you a ridiculous amount of content and the ability to play with up to four players. If you love fun (and first-person shooters) this is most definitely a game to add to your collection.

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