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With its shiny trappings, familiar wasteland heroes, and cool top-down perspective on Pandora's desolate post-apocalyptic landscape, Borderlands Legends HD makes an impressive transition from a first-person shooter on other platforms to an iOS hybrid of real-time strategy and tower defense. The slick presentation is deceiving, however, since muddling through battle after battle is more often then not an unwieldy, unsatisfying experience.
Working with all four of Borderlands' iconic heroes at once opens up a lot of strategic doors as you work in tandem to blast away burly beasts and armored brutes that pour in from different areas of each enclosed arena stage. Individual characters have access to their respective special powers -- Lilith can still Phasewalk, for example, while Roland plunks down a handy turret to chew up foes with. Earning XP grants you skill points for unlocking additional abilities and boosting your powers, and cash earned from slaying enemies can be spent to deck out your posse with new weapons and gear.
The great range of unlockables and upgrades adds incentive to delve into the random missions, but attempting to effectively control your crew on the battlefield is where Borderlands Legends HD starts to come apart. Conducting your quartet is a juggling act that feels like a chore, even with several different ways to control your squad. Tapping and dragging the screen to trigger their abilities, target foes, move around, revive allies, and throw down helpful buffs on teammates devolves into chaos far too easily as enemies crowd from different directions. With the fast-paced flow of combat, it's easy to get overwhelmed and wind up having half your party wiped out in the process. By the time you do get a handle on the challenging controls, the gameplay has settled into a repetitious streak.
The bottom line. For all its authentic flash, Borderlands Legends HD doesn't live up to its namesake's loot and gun lust-filled glory.
iPad running iOS 5.1 or later
Incredibly sharp visual style. Robust character skill trees and unlockable gear.
Controls are too convoluted. Difficulty spikes early on compound control issues.