I’m not really a fan of Sir Hammerlock — in fact, he’s probably the only character in the first game I didn’t like. I get that the game was going for an “old bean by jove” gentlemanly hunter type, but I felt like he was mostly just a walking trope.
Naturally, I was hesitant to get excited over a new DLC featuring Sir Hammerlock. But you know what? He’s probably the best part of it.
Big Game Hunt doesn’t really have a story. Ok, so it has a premise, but the actual narrative ends up being nothing more than an excuse to get you to visit different setpieces. Professor Nakayama, a Handsome Jack enthusiast of sorts, is seeking to revive your old arch-nemesis with old DNA — and he has a group of indigenous people at his disposal — because, mind control — stay with me guys. The thing is, the ol’ Professor seems to think that he is your arch-nemesis as well, leading to a series of events that is about as silly as it sounds.
The story really doesn’t go anywhere, at all. It tries to be ironic in that the villain actually isn’t formidable, which might be a play on Phineas and Ferb or some other situation involving a bumbling villain in training, but the gimmick never really works — especially when you consider the fact that Nakayama is not likeable in any fashion, nor is he funny.
You never get attached to the villain in any way, or even remember his name or what he looks like by the end of it. It just kind of…ends, and you’re free to explore the sidequests at your leisure. Sidequests that you can probably get the same experience from in the base package.
Another main problem of the narrative is that it never really addresses the concept of indigenous peoples, even in an amusing way. It simply states “these are savages, they’re formidable, have at them,” then it ends. Although Borderlands isn’t really known to tackle intellectual concepts on a constant basis, the potential here is amazing and the results are abysmal.
In total, there are five main story quests that you can probably clear in under an hour (making this the shortest DLC yet), and 12 sidequests (some of which feature Sir Hammerlock, and your weekend gentlemanly excursion with him that takes a backseat to the Professor’s B-story). There’s loot to be had, and a new vehicle named the “Fan Boat” (which is kind of underwhelming). In typical BL2 DLC fashion, there’s a new raid boss, plus a new skin for each character.
Big Game Hunt adds new enemies, but there’s only one type that really stuck out. I really enjoyed the Witch Doctor, as I thought they added a layer of strategy that wasn’t really seen in Borderlands 2 proper.
These new foes will not only buff other enemies, but they’re extremely hard to kill — on higher difficulties, they’re one of the biggest challenges yet. This presents a unique problem in that you either need to choose to go after enemies in a certain order, or “cut off the head” so to speak — only, the head is pretty damn formidable.
On the other hand, the idea of “savages” as enemies with no unique spin on them is so unlike Borderlands. It feels like they really couldn’t come up with anything else, so they subjugated themselves to a trope that’s been done to death, and might even feel a little distasteful for some fans.
Plus, that unique element involving the conundrum of the Witch Doctor is basically the only thing that’s unique about Big Game Hunt. All of the creatures and areas look a tad too familiar. Unlike the amazing Return of the Jedi sand dunes of the first DLC, or the wacky over-the-top Thunderdome gone wrong of the second DLC, this one just has…some swamps and some caves. And I’m not talking really cool looking bayou-esque swamps with dangling wavy trees — just open shallow water.
This is without a doubt the weakest DLC offering yet. If you pitched in for the Season Pass (buy three DLCs get one free), consider this your free DLC — hopefully the fourth offering will be a bit stronger. While Sir Hammerlock may simply be “more Borderlands 2,” it could have been a whole lot more, and it feels a tad unfinished.
This review is based on a digital copy of Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt for the Xbox 360