**This was meant to be posted at the launch of Borderlands 2 on the Vita but then some stuff got in the way**

My Vita has been sitting on its own for quite some time now as my attention has been on my 3DS and Dark Souls II.  However, my 3DS may have to be put to the side for the time being, as I picked up Borderlands 2 for my Vita yesterday.  I’m not a huge Borderlands fan but I feel like it’s the perfect type of game to play on a handheld.  The reviews so far have not been great so I was on the fence about getting it, but I went for it.  I’m glad I did, because so far it’s been pretty solid.

Starting it up is the same and you still can’t skip the intro cut scene, which is annoying since I’ve watched it twice already, and a third time is just not necessary, but whatever, it drops you right into the game’s tutorial section, which is actually needed to get acquainted with the Vita controls.  They’re a little difficult to get used to but after playing for a bit it becomes a lot easier and now I’m not thinking about where things are.  Though, the front touch pad took some time to get used to since each side of the screen does something but it’s just kind of in a general area rather than a virtual button.  The back touch pad may be difficult for some people since you can’t rest your fingers on the back, but I didn’t find that to be an issue.  But overall the controls are solid and should not be a problem for anyone.

On to performance.  The first two hours I experienced no major issues.  There was a bit of slowdown when things got a bit crazy and sometimes when reloading a gun the game starts to get sluggish.  These aren’t frequent enough to be game breaking but don’t expect a seamless experience.  What is more noticeable is the frame rate

If nothing else, it's quite the achievement bringing such a large game to the Vita, and for the most part it does rather well

If nothing else, it’s quite the achievement bringing such a large game to the Vita, and for the most part it does rather well

drop in Sanctuary, it’s actually really bad but fortunately it doesn’t seem any fighting goes on there so it won’t have an impact on the core gameplay.  However, it is quite aggravating since it happens all the time.  That aside, there’s of course a graphical downgrade from the console versions and naturally the PC version, but this never stood out to me as an issue and the game looks pretty nice on the Vita.  Character models can be a bit stiff but that’s mainly for NPCs, as the enemies you fight seem to move just fine and have no problem getting in your face as they rush you with shotgun blasts.

Luckily, the gameplay is all there.  The whole shoot and loot system translates really well to the Vita and lends itself to both quick and long term sessions.  I’m assuming this version has all the guns in the other versions but with so many and with so little play time I honestly have no idea, but I can say so far I have come across a lot of weapons.  Enemies now explode to improve performance and I believe there are less enemies on screen at once.  Don’t worry, things still get pretty hectic.

I feel it’s important to note I have only played with the Day 1 patch, which from what I’ve read seems to have fixed a majority of major performance issues many people had to suffer through (it seems the Day 1 patch actually came out a week after the Vita bundle came out, on the day the retail version of Borderlands 2 for Vita was released on its own).  I have yet to play any of the DLC and I believe I may need to download it on my memory card, so some things need to be rearranged before I can comment on any of that.

So far, with just a few hours with the game it is difficult to give a full review, but my initial impressions are very positive.  There are some technical issues but not enough to detract from the fun or ruin the game (I’ve played some games with really awful technical issues and this is not one of them).  If you are looking for a fun game to play on the Vita then I would suggest this.  As it stands, Killzone: Mercenary is my top shooter on the Vita, but considering how much content is with Borderlands 2 it’s hard to say not to get it, especially since it’s rather fun.  I am looking forward to playing for many more hours and if I can convince anyone I know with a Vita to pick this game up I will give my thoughts on the co-op, which is limited to two rather than four players.

Now I must depart and go level up, shoot, and loot my way through Borderlands 2 on Vita.