Creating a faithful portable version of Borderlands 2 was always going to be a challenge. Originally released in 2013 for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, Gearbox's shooter uses a modified Unreal Engine 3 to produce frenetic, cartoon-style action with an online twist, running at 25-30fps on both home consoles. Today we finally have the PlayStation Vita edition in our hands, which comes bundled with all the downloadable content released so far, plus a cross-save feature to complement the PS3 release. Cutbacks of some form are inevitable but through it all, does the core experience remain intact?
Alas, and perhaps for good reason, there's a scarcity to Unreal Engine 3 titles on Vita so far, with Mortal Kombat Vita being the most ambitious attempt yet, and very little in terms of final software coming close to Epic's jaw-dropping NGP demo in 2011. In Mortal Kombat's case, the game strips down its visuals as far as possible to preserve 60fps gameplay, producing an entertaining port even with its plain character models, effects and textures. However, in Borderlands 2 Vita's case, even the core feature-set has necessarily been whittled down, with developer Iron Galaxy Studios needing to drop the online co-op player count from four to two.
It's an unfortunate move for an open-world action RPG, with some of its sparser areas clearly built to suit a higher player count - though this isn't a killing blow for the overall experience. Borderlands 2 is presented at the Vita's full native resolution of 960x544, marking it as one of the few big-budget titles to pull this feat off. This spares us some nasty upscaling issues with its stylish black comic-book style borders, and means it look very crisp. There is no anti-aliasing to speak of, but the Vita's smaller screen does help minimise the distraction of jagged edges.