|System: Xbox 360, PS3*, PC|
|Dev: Gearbox Software|
|Pub: 2K Games|
|Release: January 15, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol|
by Josh Wirtanen
So, I’m just going to go out and say it: Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt isn’t really the Borderlands 2 expansion we’ve been waiting for. Sure, it carries over much of the charm from the main game (and the exceptional Captain Scarlett DLC), but that’s a charm that’s starting to wear a little thin. It’s almost as if Gearbox has a checklist of features they need to tick—more loot, new enemy types, new environments, new psychopathic boss to taunt you all the while, a new monster with “The Invincible” as a surname to encourage you to hit level cap and call up your friends, and so on—and once they put checkmarks in those boxes, they simply tie a pretty little bow on their DLC and send it off to the elders of the Internet.
Now, I want to be clear about something here. Sir Hammerlock’s is still better than a good portion of the DLC that’s hitting the market these days. This isn’t just a new class, some exclusive guns, or a $5 paint job for your vehicle; this is actually a six-or-so-hour mini-campaign. It’s just that this content was sort of advertised as a getaway from all that psychopath-killing and corporation-usurping that was going on in the main campaign. We wanted, you know, something a bit more relaxing and gentlemanly, like exploring a brand new environment while turning the local wildlife into steaming piles of giblets. And we wanted a level cap increase.
Actually, besides the main storyline campaign (which should only take you a few hours), the rest of the content is actually pretty good. There’s a healthy helping of side missions, and those tend to fall more in line with the tone we were expecting of something with the words “Big Game Hunt” in the title. You will be hunting wild creatures and gathering eggs while a man is making a documentary on your hunt, meaning you get to hear your adventure narrated with that old fashioned Borderlands style of dark humor. Oh, and Claptrap is back for some of the more entertaining parts of the campaign.
Also, to Gearbox’s credit, Dr. Nakayama—the DLC’s main villain—had me laughing out loud in a few places. (His surprise ending was especially good. Wait, that might have been a spoiler.) I just wonder why we had to have an antagonist at all. Wasn’t man vs. Pandorian wilds enough conflict for this mini-expansion? And Handsome Jack was such a great villain that no DLC antagonist is going to be as well-written or fleshed out as he was. So why does Gearbox insist on inventing new villains to distract us from our hunt?
Another weird little quirk is that there’s a new type of loot box scattered across the landscape, and it requires an absurd amount of Eridium to be deposited before it opens up for you. Sure, it’s a nice way to get rid of some of that Eridium that no doubt starts piling up once you’ve purchased everything available in the Black Market on Sanctuary, but the price seems a tad steep. In fact, you should only expect to open one or two of them over the course of the entire campaign.
Still, there is some legitimately cool new stuff here. For example, toward the beginning of the campaign there’s an optional quest that has you searching for rare monster types and filling them with bullet holes. Now, this is the exact type of quest I was hoping to see in this DLC, though the creatures on the list are so rare that you’ll have to do some grinding to get them all. Which I’m actually perfectly okay with.
There are new enemy types as well, including a plethora of savages. The most menacing of all of these are the various types of elemental Witch Doctors that, if I may be so blunt, are a huge pain in the ass. They deal massive amounts of elemental damage and can insta-heal themselves and their allies. Some of them can even turn into tornadoes or swarms of bats, which can mess you up pretty good while you’re unable to deal any damage. They can be frustrating, but here’s a tip: Kill them with fire. Yes, make sure you have some sort of fire elemental weaponry before you try to tackle these guys.