Borderlands Legends – Review

Platform | Release Date
iOS | October 31, 2012
Developed by 2K Shanghai
Published by 2K Games

The Pitch:

Borderlands Legends is the latest addition to the Borderland franchise, specifically designed for mobile and tablet. Control Mordecai, Lilith, Brick and Roland and take out the oncoming waves of enemies. Collect in-game cash by destroying enemies and purchase new weapons. Earn experience and level up your characters, unlocking new skills and abilities! Each character has their own set of unique skills and abilities, use them wisely to survive!

The proposition of having Borderlands on the iPhone or iPad is tantalizing. With such a rich pool of material to draw from, the elements to craft a complementary experience based on the franchise are present. Borderlands Legends attempts to transform the first-person shooter into a top-down action strategy title. At first glance, it even looks like you’re watching the real deal from a different perspective. However, its glaring deficiencies quickly override any goodwill you may have from the franchise’s previous installments.

In this mobile adventure, you control all four of the original Vault Hunters at once. You’ll traverse from screen-to-screen, mowing down waves of enemies while keeping your team out of harm’s way. Maneuvering your characters to do just that is constantly a pain, as they aren’t intelligent enough to figure out how to move around objects in the world, including their own squadmates. Unless you’re drawing clear movement paths, they’ll get stuck on anything in their way. Even then, successfully moving from point A to point B isn’t a sure thing. In one instance, I drew a straight path for Lilith to follow, which she responded to by spinning aimlessly.

Besides movement, you also have the ability to activate each character’s special abilities and tell them which specific targets to attack. By default, they will attack any enemy that moves within their attack radius. However, there are seemingly random instances when enemies will attack one of your characters and they’ll take the punishment until you move them. Because you don’t have the ability to attack enemies yourself, having an unreliable squad adds to the frustration.

When the game’s bugs aren’t in action, the intended experience falls well short of the bar set by its franchise brethren. None of the level designs or the enemy behaviors lend themselves well to interesting strategic or tactical play. The series’ characteristic humor is mostly absent and its few attempts at cracking jokes miss the mark by a wide margin.

The most damning criticisms revolve around its loot system. Everything I loved about loot in its predecessors has been detrimentally scaled-down or removed completely. Each squad member can only use one class of gun, which greatly limits your offensive creativity. Enemies in Legends do not drop gear, which I always found to be the way to get the best stuff. Instead, they only drop money, which can be used to purchase gear at designated points within each mission. Being able to buy that awesome loot would have sufficed as an alternative, but none of the gear is worth getting excited over. With so few variables used to differentiate guns, shields, and utilities, everything is virtually indistinguishable. Having a more robust system in place would have gone a long way to making things interesting, but what’s in place wears thin quickly.

I still believe that creating a great mobile Borderlands experience can be done, but Legends is not it. This game loses too much of what made the series great and what’s left isn’t all that fun to play. Had this done a better job of drawing from its source material while polishing up the bugs, this could have been a winner. As it stands, this is a mediocre action strategy title that isn’t worth another trip to Pandora.

About Jett Landicho

Jett Landicho is an editor for Splitkick and host of The Recurring Bosscast. Check out more of his video game musings at inthirdperson.com
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