Borderlands 2′s Big Game Hunt reviewed: Hammerlock and load for another round of looting

Borderlands 2: Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt DLC

By on January 15, 2013 at 6:30 pm

Few heroes ever find a moment’s rest.

The princess may been found, the galaxy saved, the villain vanquished, but at a time where worlds can be extended indefinitely — provided that world digs its roots deep enough in the minds and hearts — few modern videogame heroes will ever find the joys of retirement. None epitomise this more than the nebulous Vault Hunters, who after two games and numerous DLC releases are yet to find a corner of Pandora that is secluded enough to finally rest their feet.

Instead, with Handsome Jack vanquished, and Pandora saved, they now find themselves seeking peace on Pandora’s newly uncovered continent of Aegrus, following in the footsteps of Sir Hammerlock who himself has made the trek for nothing more than a quiet weekend of “Hunting, companionship, and bawdy jokes about social taboos.” (as you do).

But this was never going to be a quiet weekend, despite Hammerlock’s dogged determination to turn a blind eye to Pandora’s latest threat in a post-Jack world, a point made even clearer when the voice of a mysterious man by the name of Nakayama pipes up and literally begs you to come and fight him, to stop his plan to clone to Handsome man himself. And so begins Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt.

It’s that greater sense of self-awareness that manages to mask much of the fetch-quest stylings of Hammerlock’s structure, from the ability to sacrifice yourself to man-eating monsters through to your role at the center of “Dietmar’s” documentary on the Vault Hunter’s time in Aegrus – a man who lacks the richness of David Attenborough’s wildlife observations but more than makes up for it with his fake German accent and colourful commentary.

Dietmar’s desire to document your endeavours is pretty understandable: Aegrus is the kind of place worth documenting. Its dark, dank, almost-swamp environment is nestled under the arch of a massive monument of rock and stone that ensures it is constantly in shadow, which when accompanied by the strings of an altogether haunting backing track evokes clearer images of Diablo than Borderlands has managed before – despite sharing DNA from day one. Accentuating this all the more is the fact that Aegrus is filled with Witch Doctors controlling hordes of savages, healing them while throwing magic at you. More than just a set dressing, these Doctors also ensure even hardened Vault Hunters will need to change tactics when they come face to face.

Of course, there are more dangerous beasts than just bandits here, as from these swamplands new enemies rise — Hammerlock’s Hunt, fittingly, has a satisfying focus on bringing down grand beasts and hoarding their loot — offering challenges for a Vault Hunter who is yet to meet their equal: a far sterner challenge, hailing Gearbox’s change in focus from concurrent side-stories to true post-game content, with an adventure tuned for those over level 30.

More than anything, Hammerlock’s outing is proof that Borderlands 2 still “has it”. What is it? An ability to craft a location. A combat tension. A feeling. And a subtlety, more so here than before, in its characterisation and humour that belies its try-hard edge and harder comic book lines.

It also affirms Gearbox as one of few developers harnessing the true nature of DLC – to seamlessly extend outward, upward, and onward – serialising their characters and digging that much deeper, below their surface, to the amusement of all.

And so the future doesn’t look any less busy for a Vault Hunter, then — it will be awhile yet before Pandora is finally quiet and a hero can rest his feet — but then, since when was Borderlands 2 ever at its best when it was quiet? This may be a hero’s continued torture, but it is a player’s gift.

Good:

  • The same self-aware humour, this time less abrasive and more charming in its subtlety.
  • New enemies – such as the Witch Doctor – call for new approaches to combat encounters.
  • Loot. Loot. Loot. Aegrus has it in spades. Expect a change in load-out within minutes.
  • A Monster Hunter-esque style, setting out in search of Big, Bigger and Biggest Monsters.

Bad:

  • The melee focus of many of the Witch Doctor’s minions can also result in stale encounters.
  • The odd bug and quirk of enemies disappearing through objects.
7 comments (Leave your own)

Note.. Currently not working on Xbox360.

 

One thing that continues to impress me about Borderlands 2 DLC is that each one adds a new and unique region with a totally different art style to it making it feel fresh.

 

Hoping it’s as good as Torgue if not better and not a bit of a flop like Scarlett was. Also hoping IT COMES OUT SOON! O_O

inaugral,

Yeah they feel like expansion packs which is exactly what DLC should be.

OMG AN EDIT FEATURE HUZZAH!

 

So Torgue’s is alot better? I’m going through Scarlett atm, and I thought it was pretty good, so it’s safe to assume that Torgue will be much fun?

 

subw00fer:
So Torgue’s is alot better? I’m going through Scarlett atm, and I thought it was pretty good, so it’s safe to assume that Torgue will be much fun?

Your mileage may vary, though I felt Torgue was a better character than Scarlett, I found the Scarlett DLC to be overall more enjoyable, it felt like it had more of a story to tell.

 

madwalrus:
Note.. Currently not working on Xbox360.

Its not releaced for another 8 hours (16:00 AEDT)

 

makena: Your mileage may vary, though I felt Torgue was a better character than Scarlett, I found the Scarlett DLC to be overall more enjoyable, it felt like it had more of a story to tell.

Both my friend and I felt that Scarlett’s gameplay and environments were pretty dull. The levels were overly large and had a massive empty feeling to them and the stakes in the story didn’t feel that strong. Mission wise Scarlett was fetch quest central, it completely lacked the variety and ingenuity of the main games missions. Invisible walls everywhere often blocking places you’re meant to go to didn’t help either. Finally it also wasn’t that funny, merely a bit amusing.

But I agree, ones mileage may vary. Scarlett wasn’t bad per say, just not that good in my opinion. The absolute hilarity of Torgue was just pure gold on the other hand with the only downside being the ending fight that had no build up and where opening the vault didn’t have any impact on the story.

 
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