3. Borderlands: The Pre-sequel
As the title suggests, this game relates the story between the first and second Borderlands, that being the rise of Handsome Jack to power. The third installment of the game takes us on Pandora’s moon, Elpis, where new enemies, elements and even mechanics are introduced.
The whole story gets related by Athena, the Ex-Atlas Warrior met in the 3rd DLC from Borderlands 1. A funny feature is that the when she tells the story the second time, in the second playthrough, the whole narration is changed, leaving the story rather fresh.
Gameplay and Features
For the first time in the Borderlands franchise, the (anti-)heroes communicate with the NPC’s, each of them have a personal way of expressing what they have in mind but unfortunately all the NPC answers the same with some differences at Nisha with Handsome Jack (explained later).
Also, for the first time, the players will be able to play as the mighty CL4P-TP, though he will be quite the rollercoaster experience due to his skill tree. All the classes will be explained later, now I’m just showing off the ‘first times’.
Due to being on the moon, the gravity is even more lowered than on Pandora, Oxygen Helmets are introduced (named by the Elpis inhabitants as OZ kits) as well as Gravity stomps which will be quite useful when combating hordes of enemies, the last 2 new additions come at the weapons category, slag getting replaced with the Cryo element and true laser weapons integrated into the game.
As part of the removed things, the E-tech weaponry has been eliminated since there is no Eridium on Elpis and Bandit manufacturer line has been replaced with the SCAV weapons, though they are actually the same, only the design and name differs.
The OZ kit is a little handy tool that keeps you alive while you cross on the moon’s terrain. The kits act as a helmet which allows you to breathe. The kits however don’t have unlimited oxygen, need for replenishing being crucial. If it happens to run out of oxygen you will constantly lose health until the kit gets replenished through a pocket of oxygen or with the help of a machinery that can create a limited range atmosphere.
Other useful abilities of the kit consist in the allowance of using them as air jets giving you a little boost in either direction or use it to pummel yourself towards the ground, thus creating a shockwave that will stun and injure the surrounding enemies.
Another thing that I consider an improvement is the length of story missions, with at least one time taking up to one entire hour to complete. The downside to it though is that there are fewer missions and a lot less places to visit, making this game feel more like a Borderlands 2 DLC based on this point of view (Truth is that this was supposed to be a DLC).
Other good things that I have seen returning are some of the enemies from the both previous games, like the Stalkers, though I will keep the identity of the first Borderlands enemy a secret due to its introduction being too awesome. Keeping the tradition of extreme Easter Eggs, like the Minecraft enemies in Borderlands 2, this time we have a whole Super Mario Bros level with 3 weapon chests at the end of it.
To make it even more pleasurable, the devs included a pathway to which you can get above that map and traverse it without having to fight enemies, like in World 1-2. Another gorgeous Easter egg is the inclusion of an end-game boss similar to Godzilla (it requires at least level 29 to beat it).
The Eridium has been replaced with Moon Stones although they are far more common due to their multiple uses. The bad side is that the Crazy Earl’s upgrades prices have remained the same allowing the player to resist a longer time on the field way faster. Other uses of Moon Stones involve opening up some of the weapon chests and infusing extra perks on the weapons you get from the Grinder.
There are also 2 new vehicles included, replacing the previous ones:
– The Moon Buggy – Similar to the buggy from previous games but with a different chassis, uses either a machine gun or a rocket launcher
– The Stingray – A completely new vehicle that uses hovering technology and has the ability to jump (by using the boost system) over anything. It has only 1 seat but other players can use the one already spawned to spawn their own, thus 4 stingrays are allowed to co-exist at any time. Its weapons are a laser turret on the front and either a Flak Cannon or Cryo Rocket Launcher at the back.
Another new feature integrated into the game is the Grinder, in which you can place 3 weapons of any rarity and receive a better (usually) weapon than those that you have ‘sacrificed’. The Grinder can be boosted with Moon Stone which will grant an extra perk to the weapon like bonus grenade damage after a kill.
Maps and Enemies
The Elpis design is quite monotonous since, well, it’s a moon. There are still a few volcanoes here and there, but nothing to cause a gasp. The second place that you can finally visit is the Hyperion base, Helios, filled, of course with enemies that overtook it and Stalkers in the research labs.
There are almost no new enemies, besides the Shuggurath and some replacements like Rathyds for the Rakks and Kraggons that have a mixture of Skags with Bullymongs.
Weapons and Classes
As ever, the weapons in Borderlands procedurally generated, meaning that there is a very small chance of getting exactly the same gun twice.
The new addition in the arsenal are the weapon laser which come in 3 versions:
The Railgun – Usually a one shot, one kill weapon, has a small fire rate.
The Scatter Gun – Acting like a shotgun, it can shoot 3 lasers with a random pattern simultaneously, medium fire rate.
The Automatic Laser – Similar firing behavior like a SMG, it has a fast fire rate but the smallest damage output of them all.
Like in Borderlands 2 there are 6 characters (in this game though, they are called Antiheroes since they work for Handsome Jack as hired gunmen (and ladies)):
CL4P-TP – Or called by the locally designated name: Claptrap. His skill tree is made for co-op-ing so playing alone might prove some difficulty. Also, some of his skills force you to use a certain kind of weapon for a certain amount of time in order to be the most effective. If you fail to use that kind of weapon, everything but that weapon category will suffer a temporarily nerf in damage and accuracy.
His action-skill is one of a kind; he runs an .exe file which analyzes the field in front of him, which, based on the results, launches one of the many skills he possesses. Some of them are borrowed from grenade mods behavior like the bouncing betty, one of them gets a mini-claptrap like the fairy in Borderlands 2 DLC4. Use this guy for some extreme fun. A video I recorded a while ago with how this guy plays is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXqV7KoVlR0
Nisha The Lawbringer – Nisha is Handsome Jack’s girlfriend in Borderlands 2, which means that Jack will attempt to flirt with her every once in a while. Her action skill is an auto aim feature, which can become quite overpowered at later levels. Gameplay with her, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLV7nEsPAOA
Wilhelm The Enforcer – Handsome Jack’s right hand, he turns into a robot after installing on himself too many upgrade. All the modifications are visible in real time on the character. His action skills deploys too hovering crafts. One of them attack the enemies around while the other ones keeps healing you.
Athena The Gladiator – You finally get to play as Athena, the fearless warrior from Borderlands 1’s 3rd DLC. She uses a shield as action skill and I deem her the weakest. Because of that I have not taken any videos of her.
Handsome Jack – The Doppelganger – Yes, you get to play as Handsome Jack’s Doppelganger. Because I do not own the DLC (and neither of the next character) I do not know anything more than his action skill which is a clone of him to aid in the fight.
Lady Hammerlock The Baroness – The 6th and final character, she is the Ice Queen sister of Sir Hammerlock.
– New and funny mechanics and weapons
– Interesting bosses – funny introductions to them
– Mr. Torgue is back! (Borderlands 2 DLC2/4)
– The maps are rather small
– The game is too short
– There are too few maps
– The end story boss was a huge disappointment.
– Extremely expensive for the available content.
Genre: First-person Shooter, ARPG
Price: 54.99 $/€
Steam Store Page: Click Here
Similar Games: Borderlands Series, Defiance, Hellgate: London
2. Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box
A fast-paced racing game out of the bowels of the infernal EA publisher is the second thing on my list. There’s not much to be disappointed at this title since it’s quite a nice and fun arcade with great crashing physics and open-world madness. Set in the fictional town ‘Paradise City’, you’re working to become one of the best drivers in it. Though the races are technically illegal, there are no police cars to chase you around, but you will be able to unlock and race with such vehicles.
Gameplay and Features
There are several game modes including the classical racing and extended to other types such as Road Rage where you have to take down a target amount of vehicles in order to win or Marked Man which transforms you into a target by 3 or 4 cars and you have to survive them and cross the finish line in one piece.
The crashing system is two-fold: You either crash completely and you will have to respawn losing precious seconds or if you’re lucky and keep all the wheels in their rightful place and the chassis not too damage, even though the crashing camera occurs you will still be able to continue the race without having to respawn.
There are 2 ways to unlock vehicles: By finishing events or the special events and by completing challenges. The vehicles received through challenges tend to look like the others that are unlocked through the first way, but they will sometimes have a complete different behavior. Once you unlock a vehicle through an event you will be forced to search for it throughout the city and send it into a wall, if you want it. Besides vehicles, the game has motorcycles as well, them being unlocked right from the beginning.
The challenges consist in breaking Paradise City Advertising Boards, completing time attacks on each street, performing super jumps and ultimately breaking all the wooden fences you can find. Each of the challenges, when fully completed, you will receive fast cars meant to ease up the progress.
All the events can be found at every intersection of the game, each of them having a certain color. After upgrading the driver license, the completed events reset leaving the possibility to play them again.
As mentioned by the game’s narrator, there are 8 possible finish lines, one for each cardinal point, thing which can become quite boring after a while of reaching the same spot over and over again. The only way to upgrade the driver’s license is to complete the requested amount of events.
Cars and Paradise City
Three categories of vehicles will be available to you, each befitting a certain style of gameplay. The first, Stunt, focuses on being fit for jumps and turns and are all around balanced in stats. The Speed category, focuses on top speed and acceleration, leaving the strength stats well behind, making its kind way too vulnerable to attacks from opponents.
On the other side of the spectrum sits the Aggression category with lower speed and acceleration stats but with tons of Strength making it fearful on the streets. A higher strength also means that you’re more likely to come out alive of a crash with a wall.
Each category of vehicles has its own meaning of acquiring boost. Speed and Stunt are quite similar, both relying on drifts and jumps, but the Speed category has the advantage of getting a continuous boost if you manage to keep the car on nitro without entering into a wall or civilian vehicle.
Paradise City, besides its normal city blocks and streets it also includes a dam, an abandoned airport and green area. Nothing else to add after all, it’s only one city.
The multiplayer side of the game is still quite alive despite the game being 7 years old. Players from all around the world can connect to a room made by anyone of them. The host can start challenges for all the player for some extra fun. Challenges are split by the amount of player (2-player challenges, 3-player challenges and so on up to 8-player challenges). Some of those can still be continued if a player leaves the room but no new player will be able to join a pre-existing challenge.
Other gameplay modes include racing, cops and robbers as well as Marked Man and Road Rage.
– Fun, fast, exciting gameplay
– Extremely detailed crashes
– Great soundtracks
– Becomes too repetitive after a while.
Price: 5.99 $/€
Steam Store Page: Click Here
1. Planets under Attack
A nifty little RTS game gets the first mention in this article. Set somewhere in the future when humanity figured out how to move their asses onto another planets without the help of a video camera and a moon background, moving in slow-motion and declaring proudly that they made that tiny little step. And of course, because humanity, they are still at war with each other and even with other species. American complexity, ahoy!
In Planets Under Attack you’re Mr. Goodman, a good-hearted, though indebted leader, with Mr. Norrel as his sidekick, a greedy man, focused on money and money alone. With your ambition, you plan to become one of the best, if not the best, traders in the whole galaxy.
Gameplay and Features
The whole game structure is simplistic, nothing else than a mouse is required to play it. Each map contains a number of planets. Two of them will be inhabited by you and your opponent. The purpose of the match is to conquer and use the other planets in order to defeat the opponent.
The battle can be quite fierce and take place on multiple territories at once, so multitasking is more than welcomed here. Of course, you will not be left guessing as a tutorial will be presented at the beginning of the game, complete with voice presentation and all.
After you conquered a planet you can turn it into one of the 3 types available:
– Metropolis planet – It allows you to get more soldier for the battles. Upgrading it allows a higher population on it.
– Bank planet – Turns the planet into a currency maker, needed to upgrade the other planets or wage battles
– Defense planet – Builds a giant laser tower meant to shoot any enemy in its vicinity though the small rate of fire increases the chances of winning the actual fight by very little. Upgrading it allows a higher fire rate.
Several unconquered planets will have defensive troops or lasers by themselves requiring a bit of work before you’re able to grab it for yourself, thus the need of a well management at troops becomes crucial.
When finishing missions you gain experience which unlocks various perks that give bonuses in some areas of the gameplay like faster ships while also keeping things in balance by decreasing their damage by a similar percentage.
The game allows co-op and versus type gameplay up to 4 players, each allowed to pick one of the 2 playable races as well as the class’s perks. The classes will be presented in the next chapter of the review. There are 4 game modes for the Multiplayer side of the game:
– Elimination – The first and most obvious one. Basically the same as a Deathmatch game, your objective is to take out the other player/s and establish yourself as the only ruler of the solar system.
– Domination – This one is a bit tougher as you have to capture a certain number of planets in order to win. Or you can just be a jerk and conquer the enemy, which works too.
– King of the Hill – Widely used in other genres of the gaming, you have to capture specific planet/s and hold on to it as long as possible while fending off enemy attacks. The longer you keep it in your strings the bigger the score you get. But if you lose the planet, you lose the points. The first to reach the target score wins … or the first one that decides he can’t win normally and attacks the other player and makes him disappear.
– Capture – Similar to KotH, the only differences are that you have to conquer only one planet and the points you gain from it, don’t get lost if you are banished from it. And, like the rest of the modes, you can just capture the enemy.
Enemies and playable races
The enemies in this section will be about those from the campaign. There are 4 types of enemies: the other humans, robots, nasty hive bugs and even zombies. Yay … zombies in space. Friggin brilliant! Each of the 4 races have their own attack methods and behavior. Nothing left to say about this. Moving on.
There are 2 playable races in this, both in campaign and multiplayer. As it can be easily guessed, the humans are one of the races. As for the second one, those are the robots. They are a relatively easier race to play with due to their way of fighting and ‘reproducing’. They produce energy faster but the way of selecting the troops is harder than at humans, the possibility of having some delays in performing an action existing.
– Toonish graphics. Nothing serious
– Great gameplay
– Fun between friends
– Sometimes the story is unbalanced in difficulty.
Genre: Indie, Real-Time Strategy
Price: 9.99 $/€
Steam Store Page: Click Here
Similar Games: Eufloria HD