The third in a series of four planned downloadable content packs for Gearbox Software’s roleplaying shooter Borderlands 2, Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt brings back some familiar faces from the main campaign and introduces a few new ones for hours of fps fodder. Coming off of the highly energetic Mr. Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage DLC, Hammerlock’s Hunt unfortunately feels like a step back for the series in terms of writing and ambiance. The new continent of Aegrus is as sickly and troubled as its derivative namesake, but there are some strong points that will make more than completionists and Season Pass holders give the new content a go.
Considering we Vault Hunters have been demolishing Terramorphous and the rest of his invincible kindred for months now, the premise of a weekend of solely hunting exotic creatures is a flimsy reason to traverse uncharted territory- but I’ll bite. Upon teleporting to the Hunter’s Grotto from the fast travel station it looks as if a depressing filter has been draped over the eyes of players, as you are surrounded by a swampy color palette of dark browns and greens very similar to The Zombie Island of Dr. Zed DLC from the first Borderlands game. Unlike Zombie Island and its Scooby-Doo humor, or the more recent over-exaggeration of shark suplexing adrenaline junkies in Torgue’s Campaign, Hammerlock‘s Hunt only has the forced dry humor of Hammerlock himself to keep players (barely) engaged in the story.
Speaking of which, this DLC’s main antagonist is a joke who comes off more like a needy partner than a worthy adversary- and both the final boss fight and raid boss are equally disappointing. Handsome Jack has been a gift and a curse to the series, as he is one of the most memorable villains in recent history but an exceedingly tough act to follow in the Borderlands universe.
One of the better aspects of Hammerlock’s Hunt is the new enemy types the DLC brings to Pandora. Leading the charge of a color-swapped bandits and psychos wearing tribal masks and throwing tridents, the humanoid Witch Doctors are a considerable threat as they can both heal and instantly level up party members. Aside from their support capabilities, Witch Doctors are also capable of turning into elemental Tasmanian Devil-esque tornadoes if players get too close, surrounding them in a whirlwind of fire, acid, or even vampire bats that can cause minor panic attacks in even the most steadfast players.
Of the rest of the fauna on Aegrus, which includes the new scorpion-influenced scaylions and quadruped boroks who can stomp the ground for considerable AoE damage, the most threatening are the silent but deadly Giant Spores. These elemental balloons float high above players, approaching at the worst possible opportunities to make their move. When destroyed they split into smaller spores, often distracting you from imminent threats around you. Keep scanning the skies and take them out on sight, or you might end up on the losing end of a skirmish with the locals.
It’s rather difficult to outright recommend Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt for gamers who aren’t receiving the DLC as part of their already purchased Season Pass, as the content feels lackluster in its presentation and execution. No level cap increase, no increased storage, and only a smattering of new non-legendary guns are hardly selling points for a purchase in a series whose radical nature is normally only outdone by its own boldness in proceeding content releases. Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt is not the best Borderlands 2 has to offer, but it’s just enough to keep fans entertained until that final content pack is released. You’ve got your work cut out for you, Gearbox.
Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt is available now for 800 Microsoft Points on Xbox 360 or $10 on PlayStation 3 or Steam.