Hot Games of the Week Reviewed: March 31st

Borderlands

Those who ditched their PS3s and Xbox 360s in favor of newer consoles missed out on one of the better shooters of recent years, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. Now the FPS comes packaged with its predecessor, Borderlands 2, in The Handsome Collection — a dynamite package that brings the stalwart franchise to the Xbox One and PS4 in style.

Dragon Age: Inquisition fans have more of the game to savor in the form of Jaws of Hakkon DLC, and handheld gamers looking for a Lego fix can take on Lego Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin.

Reviews by Phil Villarreal. Phil is an authorblogger and Twitterer. Publishers provided review copies.

Borderlands
Borderlands: The Handsome Collection

(Xbox One, PS4, $60, Mature)

Order Borderlands: The Handsome Collection on Amazon

The two most recent Borderlands games get a joint remaster treatment, packing in just about all the humorous, co-op friendly first-person shooter action you can handle. Borderlands 2, as well as the oddly named, moon-set Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, partner up in this anthology. The games are two of the better shooters to appear on last-gen consoles, and run and look much smoother than they did on the older consoles. All previously released DLC is included, justifying the full $60 price tag.

The key to whether or not the games will be worth replaying is the size of the community that develops around them. Borderlands devotees have been stubbornly keeping the game’s scene alive on the Xbox 360 and PS3, and it remains to be seen whether those hardcore players are willing to migrate to current-gen. Early results seem promising, with public matches quickly pairing players with games. Although the package is excellent and doesn’t hurt for content, the lack of the first Borderlands game feels like a glaring absence. Borderlands 2 is such an improvement over the first game, though, and the Pre-Sequel is such an underrated gem, that fans of the series may forget about the original.


dragon age

Dragon Age Inquisition: Jaws of Hakkon DLC

(Xbox One, $15, Mature)

Order Dragon Age Inquisition: Jaws of Hakkon DLC on Amazon

A mammoth game out of the box, Dragon Age Inquisition grows considerably with a colossal chunk of single-player action. The add-on splices a lost chapter into the main story, spinning the tale of the last inquisitor and his hunt for a vicious dragon. The DLC adds an expansive new region called Thedas, filled with mountains and wilderness.

New legendary armor and weapons are there for the taking, and the new world pulses with unlockables, deadly beasts and hidden secrets. As with The Elder Scrolls games add-ons, only high-level, well-equipped players need apply. Newcomers will find Jaws of Hakkon to be tough going. That’s not a flaw. Only those who have dumped dozens of hours into the main quest should even think about adding on to the already massive game. High-level players will find plenty to challenge them, forcing them out of their comfort zones for some of the game’s toughest challenges yet.


  Lego Shadow of Ronin

Lego Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin

(3DS, Vita, $30, Everyone 10+)

Order Lego Ninjago: Shadow of Ronin on Amazon

There’s seemingly a new Lego game every other month, and the underserved side-franchise Ninjago is next up to get its turn on handhelds. You guide block-based ninjas as they use their art of Spinjitsu to attempt to save their realm from the evil clutches of Ronin. You unlock new movesets and elemental powers as you advance, becoming more of a powerful dynamo as you complete light puzzles and bash your way through countless battles.

While Lego games tend to sputter in the story department when they aren’t based on and satirizing well-known material, Shadow of Ronin manages to tell a decent story, giving you reason to run around shattering everything into bits. Multiplayer, a huge asset to Lego games, is underserved here, as it is on most handheld games. What at times is lonely and repetitive slog would have been much more fun with accessible co-op.

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