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    Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, Review

    What do you expect out of a remaster? Is it better graphics than the now-piddling last-gen version? A more ‘complete’ or ‘ultimate’ package that features all of the DLC that came before it, bundled onto one disc? Well, The Handsome Collection only half succeeds, no matter which way you look at it.

    First, the good news. The Handsome Collection is Borderlands 2 and The Pre-Sequel with all the currently released DLC: two extra character classes for both, additional and truly fun chapters, plus character customisation options all of which providing some of the funniest, most compulsive shootin’ and lootin’ available on your next-gen box. If you played either to death and have a save file that deserves to be liberated from your Xbox 360, then you can upload it and pick up right where you left off thanks to cross-save wizardry.

    If you’ve never played a Borderlands, then step right up because it’s a trip a first person Diablo with guns and a riotous sense of humour. For a game that turns four years old in September, Borderlands 2 has barely aged a day. Laugh-out-loud funny with great comedic timing, this is beautifully paced despite a few clanging fetch quests. It’s definitely the stronger out of the two games here The Pre-Sequel is good but it still comes off second best, the plain cheesecake to Borderlands 2’s rich, thick gateaux. The writing isn’t quite as sharp, nor is the pacing up to the bigger game’s loftier standard, but to write it off as an overblown expansion doesn’t do it justice, either. You’ll come to love and exploit the mad moon physics, and the dreamy jumps in low gravity will get their hooks in you, so much so that it’s jarring flitting back and forth between the two titles.

    As is the wont of a remaster, the graphics have been neatly jazzed up. Colours are brighter, the world is more vibrant, the god rays more holy take your memory of what it looked like and buff it up, bring out the finer edges and that’s pretty much how The Handsome Collection appears. Your Xbox One’s beefier hardware has been pushed hard to incorporate four-player split-screen, and make it run consistently, which is a remarkable achievement.
    “For a game that turns four this year, Borderlands 2 has barely aged a day”
    Promise the moon
    However and you might want to steady yourself for this it’s far from handsome in the execution. Despite the assuring store blurb that The Handsome Collection has been “built specifically for next-gen consoles” it’s a lumpy beast in practice. Borderlands 2 fares a lot better than The Pre-Sequel, which, in single player, has some of the most horrific and unusual screen-tearing we’ve ever seen.

    Turn the camera sharply and the framerate judders all over the place. Jump, land and look at the ground and the game struggles to keep up, with the top fifth of the screen almost overlapping on itself. It doesn’t happen in the bigger game, though both titles suffer from near single-digit framerates in their cutscenes, which makes no sense at all. That might be a small gripe, but it’s indicative of the shortcuts taken to make the port. Texture pop-in is rife across both, with huge smudges blooming into a full-formed view a good few seconds after the environment has loaded. The draw distance the horizon at which finer details show up can also be a bit squirrely. Frankly, it’s just not good enough and feels more like a ‘we’ll fix it later’ effort than a project that’s had proper attention.

    Having three friends in the same room and on the same TV should be celebrated and encouraged, but the uI in the management screen is too big for the reduced real estate. Important icons disappear off the top of the visible area, so you and your mates will have to wrangle it using the thumbstick in order to rearrange your gear or make sense of the map. It’s a bit like your smartphone displaying a full webpage but not being able to zoom in or out and forcing you to madly scroll around, or reading this mag through the holes in a piece of Swiss cheese.

    What’s also annoying is that despite all this marvellous stuff coming on a disc, it doesn’t include The Pre-Sequel’s Claptastic Voyage DLC.  That’s part of a day-one patch that weighs in at 12Gb egregious considering the game install is somewhere around 13Gb itself.

    As a remaster, it’s a clunker: playable but suffers either from laziness or an assumption that a future update will iron out the significant creases. As a dictionary-defined ‘complete’ collection, well, that’s undisputable because the list of DLC is massive, even if you do buy the hard copy and have to download a game-sized patch.

    If you’ve never played either, or let the love affair with one of the best shooters die after the climax of Borderlands 2, The Handsome Collection is a no-brainer. For the devout vault hunter looking for a truly new Pandoran adventure, there’s always hope for a Borderlands 3.


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