Friday, November 21, 2014

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel - Spoileriffic Story Review

The Pre-Sequel takes place in between Borderlands 1 and 2, so if you've already played Borderlands 2 you pretty much know what's going to happen already anyway. That said, it's always the journey, not the destination that's important, so if you haven't played The Pre-Sequel yet, you have been warned.

The story begins with Lilith, Brick, and Mordecai interrogating a new character, Athena, who's accused of working for Jack. Lilith is bent on simply killing Athena, but Brick and Mordecai (the far less-serious characters from the first game) are interested in hearing her story.

Much like the characters from Borderlands 2, the Pre-Sequel characters were summoned by Jack to help him find a vault. However, these characters were not betrayed by Jack. Instead, their ship was attacked by Dahl soldiers, forcing them to crash land on Hyperion's H-shaped space station, Helios, where Jack seems to be one of the only survivors.

I decided to play at Athena for several reasons. First, the story seems to be told from her point of view, so playing as her and getting her take on things seemed to make sense. Also, she has a Greek-themed Captain America thing going on, which is pretty awesome. Also, unlike Nisha and Wilhelm, as far as I knew she actually didn't help Jack in his tyrannical rule after this story was over, both of which were killed by the vault hunters in Borderlands 2. So, screw those guys.

At the beginning, sure enough, Jack doesn't seem like that bad of a guy. He's a dick, yes, but a dick willing to risk his life to save the lives of others. Even as he slowly becomes frightening and ruthless, he still genuinely seems to be working toward a noble end,and he doesn't become truly murderous until he's betrayed by Lilith, Roland, and Moxxi. Lilith herself gives Jack his final push into madness, in fact, so it makes sense that Lilith basically had to fake her own death shortly afterward.

In many ways, Jack is the real main character of The Pre-Sequel. Everyone else is basically reacting to his actions, and his is the character arc that sets up Borderlands 2.

There were two things that made this game feel more story-focused than the others in the series:

First, the playable characters are much more talkative than before. Unlike the other characters, who pretty much silently obeyed the orders of their quest-givers, the Pre-Sequel characters tend to actually have conversations with the other characters--expressing their determination, their reservations, and, of course, their witty retorts.

Second, the conceit of this game being a story told by Athena to her captors is never forgotten. Every once in a while you'll suddenly hear Brick or Lilith cut in and comment on something, sometimes followed by an explanation from Athena. It all kind of reminds me of the Assault of Dragon Keep DLC, in which Tiny Tina basically narrates the events like a D&D dungeon master.

The narration gets even better after you finish the game and start over again in True-Vault Hunter Mode, which is literally just Athena telling the story again, but "with tougher bad guys and better guns" (hence the New Game+ aspect), but this time it's being told for Tiny Tina's sake, with Brick around to hear it again. Their commentary makes it all worthwhile. For instance, when Tina is not comfortable with Athena's portrayal of Jack as not really being that bad, Brick is like, "don't worry, he becomes a dick by the end." To which Tina responds: "Mmmm, dickalicious. Wait! Ew! Why did I say that? Ew ew ew ew ewww!"

I'm not interested in playing through the game as Athena again, though, so instead I edited my save file to be Claptrap instead. I honestly didn't expect Claptrap to survive the game, given Jack's raging hatred for the robots. I was pretty happy, then, when it turned out that the Claptrap you play in the game is the last surviving Claptrap from Borderlands 2!

No comment yet on Nisha and Wilhelm, though I'm still pretty sure they're psychopaths.

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