While the last console generation will be remembered most for series like Gears of War and Uncharted, those weren’t the only great ones that debuted during its life cycle. In fact, it gave birth to an impressive amount of new, standout IPs, including Borderlands, which has made developer Gearbox Software filthy rich.
After achieving great success on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, Gearbox had help with bringing its incredibly successful sequel, Borderlands 2, to current-gen consoles, along with last fall’s mildly disappointing Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! which was predominantly developed by 2K Australia. Now, they’ve been remastered in full 1080p, tout framerates of sixty-frames-per-second, and are bundled together in an attractive package dubbed Borderlands: The Handsome Collection. Two lengthy games for one affordable retail price of sixty American dollars.
Now, before we go any further, it’s important to point out that this isn’t going to be a review of the games themselves, rather the Handsome Collection as a whole. If you’d like to read our thoughts on both Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! please make sure to check out our previously published reviews of both titles. Since those exist, there’s really no need to rehash everything.
What’s great about Borderlands: The Handsome Collection is that it’s almost the full package, and I only say that because the original Borderlands game is sadly missing in action. Both games are included in their entirety (which is a given, I guess), along with all of their previously-released downloadable content. That, in addition to The Pre-Sequel‘s Claptastic Voyage and Ultimate Vault Hunter Pack 2 add-ons, which were released on the same day as this set. Combined, there’s a good hundred hours’ worth of content, if not more, especially if you’re the type of person who will play through a game with multiple characters before considering it beaten.
If all that mattered was the included content then there’d be little need for this review, because the Handsome Collection is an absolute steal on paper. Unfortunately, however, each remastered game suffers from technical issues. Not just minor ones, either – these are problems that mar both experiences.
Borderlands 2 – the series’ only true sequel, which sees several new vault hunters visit the dangerous planet of Pandora in search of its utmost riches – is arguably the greatest first-person shooter/role-playing hybrid ever made, not to mention the best Borderlands game in existence. However, what I remember as being a fluid and mostly sound gameplay experience has made its way to next-gen with a nuisance of a frame rate. I’m talking about one that seems to have a bit of a hitch or delay in it, and doesn’t seem to have any noticeable reason for occurring when it does. Its existence is annoying and it adds a bit of a stutter to one’s quest.
Thankfully, Borderlands 2 is spared from the hideous screen tearing that mars Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! by making it tough to play without contracting a headache. However, the better game does have an instance of tearing during its opening cutscene.
I played The Pre-Sequel! second, because I wasn’t as enthused about replaying it. Reason being is that it pissed me off when I played through it last fall, and didn’t end up being up to par overall. It adds some new mechanics to the series’ core formula – what with the need for oxygen, and all of those oomph-filled butt-slams – but doesn’t deliver as grand an experience. The fact that enemies auto-level well ahead of the player at the end of the game is also one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever encountered in a video game. Talk about poor design.
Prior to playing the TPS on newer, more advanced hardware, I’d heard about the port’s screen tearing problem. Even then, I was still shocked by how absolutely atrocious it really was. Not only were there several noticeable occurrences of it during the badass opening cutscenes, but things became even worse once I actually started playing the game.
At first, the tearing only showed in the mid-portion of the screen, but it quickly became evident at the top as well. Once that started, the worst of it was located there, in what I’d call the top tenth of the TV. Looking at a door would cause terrible tearing, and so would moving the camera, to the point where it became hard for me to play.
The good news is that the noted issues should be patchable, while the bad news is that the game’s whopping day one patch failed to fix them. If things persist the way they are, then I can see a lot of people avoiding playing through The Pre-Sequel! even if they’ve never done so before. Hopefully there’s a fix in the works, though, because one is desperately needed.
If it wasn’t for Borderlands: The Handsome Collection‘s troublesome performance, I’d be awarding it a top mark right about now. However, I can’t, and I’m saddened by that fact. If things improve, this will be a bonafide must-buy, but as it sits right now, it’s a work-in progress. So, unless you’re itching for more Borderlands and have three friends lined up for some newly-introduced four-player couch co-op, then I’d suggest waiting before making a purchase. It’s a real shame, because these are good games which look absolutely beautiful when you’re standing still.
This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game, which we were provided with.
Borderlands: The Handsome Collection offers a ton of great content for its price tag, alongside gameplay that is infinitely replayable. That said, it's tough to wholeheartedly recommend the package, due to some horrendously awful and unacceptable performance issues.