Borderlands Legends Review: A Delightful Tactical Romp. Mostly. With Loot!

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To start, I’ve never played Borderlands. It has unfortunately made it into my “I could get it. But I’m cheap. And have a lot of work. And then I’d have to…oh look. Skyrim” pile. All my knowledge of it and its sequel come from Wikipedia or their wiki sites, which I’ve looked over quite a bit, as I’ve wanted to play them for a while. So my interest was already piqued when I heard they were making a Borderlands Legends for the iOS. I snatched it up and all it really seems to have done is make me want Borderlands more. In good and bad ways. Well played Gearbox. Well played.

Ah, the good life.

First of all, the $6.99 price point is a little steep for many app gamers. And given the relatively small amount of content, it’s a tad much. But just a tad. Borderlands Legends is not complex. At least not in premise. You have your party of four made up of the playable characters from the first game: Brick, the Berserker; Roland, the Soldier, Mordecai, the Hunter; and Lilith, the Siren. You take missions, kill things, level up, and get loot. From what I gather, it is essentially a Borderlands summary, or book report if you will. It’s very condensed, which is a good thing for the iOS.

The skill list is small, but seems to capture each character pretty well.

That’s also one of the more frustrating parts. The lack of explanation. I feel as if I’ve had to play the other games to know what the hell is going on. I find my brow furrowing at strange names for enemies and such, and it kind of takes me out of it. However, it also makes me want to play the other games to find out more. Which is really what this is all about: marketing. The game is really just one big commercial in a way, showing you a glimpse into a bigger world, as a sort of gateway drug. And for me it works. Granted, I was already a little biased, so your mileage may vary.

The mission text makes little sense, but they all boil down to ” Kill all the enemies!!!”

The game play itself is mostly straight forward. For those familiar with the controls that Battleheart popularized, it works much the same way. A selected unit can be directed to a point on the map either by drawing a line to it or by tapping. The same for attacking enemies, or using each unit’s support skill; you just draw a line to your friend or foe. While this all sounds quite simple, the execution is a bit wonky. Simply moving can turn into a chore, as where you tap and where they move seem to have a bout a 1/2 inch to an inch worth of difference. And there’s really no time to dawdle. Health drops fast, and I’ve found it’s best to restrict movement to the lulls in between enemy waves, lest I get bogged down just trying to position the team.

I went through this battle three times after trying to perfectly position my troops. I eventually settled for “clump” formation.

Lastly, the equipment. This is probably my biggest gripe with the game. Despite keeping it simple here as well, the interface makes it a bit difficult to tell what’s going on. Especially frustrating is I still have yet to figure out how to equip things beyond the “Buy & Equip” button. Then again I haven’t really looked too hard. Which bring me to the sweet sweet corpse lootin. It’s ok. As a matter of fact, you don’t really loot anything other than money, although it’s still satisfying to click on the gold dollar signs. There’s a randomized vending machine that you purchase all your weapons and other equipment from. It streamlines the process, perhaps a bit too much for some, but it works. 

It’s not the most enjoyable looting, but like a 5 year old in a sweat shop, it works well enough.

All in all, the game is a fun, fast paced distraction that can eat up a bit of time if you can get into it. I find myself wanting to play for about 20-30 minutes before getting bored, but I keep going back. Again, it really just seems to be one big marketing attempt, albeit a pricier one for the consumer. In the end, it’s fun and easy to get in and out of, but don’t expect any depth beyond that. I expect that those who haven’t already played Borderlands proper will probably enjoy it more than those that have. Again, well played Gearbox. Well played.

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