Borderlands 2 review for PS Vita

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Publisher: SCEA/2K Games
Developer: Gearbox/Iron Galaxy
Medium: Digital/Vita Card
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes

Considering the near-universal acclaim that greeted Borderlands 2 on its initial release, the question facing the game on its release on the Vita isn’t “is it any good?” That, after all, has been greeted with a pretty definitive “yes”. Rather, the question it has to answer is, can such a huge, bold expansive game be shrunk down to fit on the PS Vita?

While some people may disagree, I think that the answer there can be answered in the affirmative just as emphatically. Because however you want to look at it, Borderlands 2 on the Vita is a pretty impressive accomplishment. It looks great, it plays great, it’s just…great.

borderlands 2 vita 2

Graphically speaking, the game is helped by the fact the console versions aimed for “distinctive” rather than “state of the art”. The cel-shaded look that worked so wonderful on consoles is just as gorgeous here, with Pandora’s wastelands and ruined villages coming to life on the Vita’s screen. Admittedly, it’s not a perfect port — as witnessed by the opening cutscene — but on the whole, it looks great enough that those few weak moments are easy to overlook.

Happily, when it comes to the controls, there aren’t even those minor compromises: Borderlands 2 works here so well that you might believe the game was designed for the Vita. Seriously. It works so well, it even manages to make using the rear touch pad seem worthwhile. There aren’t many other games that can say that, so Iron Galaxy deserves all kinds of plaudits for pulling that off. (And, of course, if tapping the back of your Vita isn’t your style, you can always map it to something else.)

borderlands 2 vita 6

I know I’m supposed to harp on some minor shortcomings here, but honestly, I can’t think of any. If you’re really a stickler for multiplayer, I guess it’s a little annoying that the game only allows for 2 players in a game, rather than up to 4. Personally, I can’t say I’m too annoyed by the change, since I only ever play the game in single-player mode, but I’m sure there are people to whom this matters a great deal.

Beyond that, though? I’ve got nothing. As I said, Iron Galaxy did an incredible job of cramming a huge game onto the Vita, and they did without having to make any major sacrifices. Borderlands 2 is instantly one of the best games the Vita has to offer, and a sign that maybe, just maybe, those initial promises of it being a portable console in your pocket weren’t that far from reality.

Grade: A