Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC /Genre: First Person Shooter, Action Role-Playing
Developer: Gearbox Software / Publisher: 2K Games
A Forgettable Hunting Trip
Borderlands 2 was one of my favourite games from last year. It is the definition of an excellent sequel, fixing problems from the original and building upon them to create something special. Purchasing the Season Pass content for Borderlands 2 was a no brainer; however, so far it has been hit and miss. The first expansion featuring Captain Scarlett left us was good but left something to be desired and repeated some of the same mistakes of the original Borderlands. However, the Mister Torgue’s expansion content was able to impress on so many levels due to the quirky humour the series presents along with some memorable characters – though technical issues held it back from reaching its true potential. However, the latest DLC content, “Sir Hammerlocks Big Game Hunt” takes an even greater step in the wrong direction. Big Game Hunt is the weakest piece of DLC content so far, inundated by the same problems the series has struggled with in its past, so it offers little incentive for any fan of the series to return to Pandora.
We start Sir Hammerlocks Big Game Hunt with an invitation from, you guessed it, Sir Hammerlock himself. This is the first expansion that has been set after the events of the Borderlands 2 campaign, so Hammerlock being the gentleman he is has decided you deserve a much needed break. After all the mayhem that Handsome Jack caused, the two of you travel to the Hunters Grotto for a manly adventure of hunting and camp fires. Sadly, the Vaulthunter never gets time off as an evil Professor Nakayama interrupts your vacation before it really begins. Nakayama loves Handsome Jack, I mean really loves him, so much so he has decided to try and clone Jack himself. The plot is fairly basic: Evil Professor, hunt him down, stop evil scheme etc. It’s nothing revolutionary and surprisingly unsubstantial, with the main quest lasting only around 3 hours and the overall content itself completed in less than 5 hours. This includes defeating the new raid boss, which felt like one of the easier battles for new legendary loot.
The main problem I found is that Mister Torgue set such a high-bar in terms of Borderlands humour that Big Game Hunt feels like it is trying too hard to match it. It never comes off as funny, if anything the dialog is just sort of there. You don’t connect with any new characters apart from a brief visit from another main Borderlands 2 character; it mainly revolves around Nakayama and Hammerlock. Hammerlock personally comes off as a one-dimensional character, his gentlemanly qualities are the main focus of his personality and when he tries to act differently, it doesn’t work.
One of my main gripes of Borderlands 1 was the environments, they all seemed so bland and lacking variety. Big Game Hunt suffers from this same problem; every new location is not only lack personality, but feels plain and uninspired. Traversing the land itself feels more of a chore than previous expansions due to many environmental clipping issues. I would find my character not being able to move in certain locales because the environment was apparently in the way despite being a long way from any form of obstacle. Not to mention the massive amount of pop-in that occurs on various textures, from characters to the environments themselves. These issues just cannot seem to improve; on the contrary, they seem to be getting worse.
Even the expansion’s new vehicle, the Fan Boat, is basically useless since some of the environment is located on high mountains. It also is very similar to the Sand Skiff introduced in the Captain Scarlett DLC, but lacks the maneuverability and easy traversal in comparison. However, fans who are clamouring for an excuse to head back to the land of Pandora will be happy to hear more loot is available – this is of course Borderlands.
Combat in Big Game Hunt is extremely refreshing with the inclusion of many new enemies and a variety of different combat situations that can prove quite challenging. In the past two DLC expansions, re-skinned enemies from the main campaign were a focal point which is something Big Game Hunt actually improves on. One of the main additions is the Witch Doctor, who becomes your main focus in combat situations due to their powerful abilities. Witch Doctors can level up the Savages fighting alongside, making them more badass and more powerful. Getting the Witch Doctor out of commission quickly is your main concern; but with the Witch Doctor possessing a variety of powers such as blocking, electricity, corrosion and a nasty whirlwind attack, it is easier said than done.
These new challenging enemies make combat feel different, though the fact that most players have now maxed out characters makes some fights become a chore rather than fun and challenging. The enemies are like roaches in this DLC, they continue to spawn almost as if this was their way of artificially extending the game’s length. Sometimes running past enemies and getting to your objective makes more sense than wasting times on enemies that seems to be endless. Let’s hope the level cap is lifted soon, as slogging through enemies with no justification and a lacklustre narrative is a tough sell.
As soon as the credits started rolling my first thought was, “Wait, that was all?”This initial thought describes Sir Hammerlocks Big Game Hunt better than any review could. This entire package doesn’t feel special, doesn’t feel like it lives up to previous DLC packs and just doesn’t feel like anything I can recommend. The combat is exceptional due to new enemies and it is by no means horrible or unplayable, it just feels very average. After such a massive improvement in the Mister Torgue expansion, this feels like a step back into the problems the series has faced before. Here is hoping the fourth expansion in the Season Pass not only gives us an amazing adventure to end Borderlands 2 content, but also raises the level cap – something that should have been implemented previously.
+ Exceptional Combat
+ New Enemies
+ More Borderlands 2
– Bland Environments
– Very Short
– Suffers From Pop-In & Environmental Clipping
– Same Old Problems
Overall Score: 6.5
Jamie Briggs manages Analog Addiction where you can find all his latest reviews, interviews and features and also like them on Facebook. Also follow his daily life on Twitter @AnalogAddiction and their videos on YouTube.