First, the Kickstarted indie space shooter Starlight Inception came a cropper with the PC to Vita port, then Borderlands 2 rushed to market with a host of unresolved issues. Both since have been fixed with patches. I'll update the Starlight review soon enough, but for now have been enjoying Borderlands both pre- and post-patch, so on with the review. In the mean time, a word to the developers out there, no rush!
Borderlands 2 Review
The early levels I tried pre-patch with a new character, and they look a bit spartan but still capture the spirit of the original, and seemed fairly easy for the engine to handle (or more time was spent grinding them down to fit the Vita). I don't recall any obvious differences to the PS3 version. Once you get used to keeping your hands off the touchscreens and stop triggering melee and grenade attacks (the best advert for a set of Vita grips yet), things go very well.
Having also put some time into the PS3 version, while it is definitely smoother (for the most part), playing it post-patch, there doesn't seem like a massive difference on the Vita. That also allowed me to port a character using the lovely Cross Save feature and leap ahead a few missions.
Sure, some features like ragdolling and visual effects plus the co-op (down to two players), have been culled to cram it onto the Vita. But when you're playing the game, you don't have time to spot the difference. Yes, people are still reporting crashes and slowdown, and other troubles, but I haven't had any issues yet, so remain a happy camper.
Borderlands 2 is one of those rare titles with a wicked sense of humour that only Portal and the Discworld adventures pop in my mind as comparable. Waking up in the clutches of a deranged robot, you are soon exploring apocalyptic wastelands, completing simple explore-and-kill missions, mostly consisting of slaying enough denizens to find an item, or defeat a boss character. It would all be pretty bland without the droid burbling away, and later your cheery or cultish allies!
Its nothing we haven't done before, but the story is told in an almost Tarantino-style, packing in characters right out of his over-the-top-drawer, with profanity, humour and blood flying everywhere. That should keep most people gripped, perhaps enough to look past the very, very similar run of missions.
One of the big sells of Borderlands 2 is the almost endless upgrades to your arsenal available. While my assassin might have a fairly basic skill tree, and badass tokens for extra impact, he can wield and let rip with a frightening away of weapons, which increase in power as the nasties get tougher.
Vehicles and teleports help you get around the sprawling wastelands quicker, and you respawn on death, for a small fee. Sometimes this puts you in an awkward area or up against the same set of nasties you just killed, but its not overly annoying. On your travels there are always plenty of crates to open, and the odd secret to uncover, but mostly its move-and-kill, restock, move-and-kill.
The reward in the game is finding the perfect weapons and look for your character, mastering them as the story unfolds and then raining down hell on the many bosses and beasts. The Vita version packs in loads of extra DLC, which boost's the original's level cap, adding masses of content (if you have the memory card space).
Yes, Borderlands 2 is not a perfect port, but it was never going to be. Yes, the game still has the odd gremlin, but with all the compression required, I'm surprised the thing runs at all. I'm not too sure why it merited a Game of the Year edition (except to rebundle all that DLC) So, it would be wrong to give it a 10, but it would be unfair on Iron Galaxy to give B2 anything less than an eight.
Price: £19.99 (PSN)
Dev: Iron Galaxy/Take 2/Sony
Progress: Out there, somewhere