Testosterone! Explosions! Manly things! Make stuff go BOOM courtesy of Mr Torgue.
Reviewed on the Xbox 360 by Ryan Graubner
“Did you know over 97% of all creatures on Pandora aren’t exploding right now? THAT’S BULLSHIT! BUY TORGUE!”
The Borderlands universe is chock full of demented lunatics who’s interests include shooting things, blowing things up and shooting more things. None, however, have quite the enthusiasm for it as the Torgue company figurehead who’s philosophy on life seems to be: “If it isn’t exploding, you’re doing it wrong”. Of course he would phrase that in a slightly different way, with approximately 300% more shouting and profanity.
As the 2nd chunk of DLC to hit Borderlands 2, basing the expansion on such a ridiculous character is a bit of a no brainer, and Gearbox have previous form in creating an arena style DLC for the first Borderlands. It comes hot on the heels of Captain Scarlett and her Pirate’s Booty, which did an admirable job of keeping things fresh and expanding the Borderlands experience. Torgue himself wastes no time in hurling you into an arena fight, but the game quickly settles into a much more familiar groove of quests and story missions.
[pullquote]Enemies are almost exclusively reskinned bad guys you have shot in the face many times before, with no new attack patterns or strategies to employ against them.[/pullquote]
Familiarity breeds contempt however, and after the excellent Captain Scarlett DLC, I was surprised at how unambitious this extra 5 to 6 hours of content turned out to be. Enemies are almost exclusively reskinned bad guys you have shot in the face many times before, with no new attack patterns or strategies to employ against them. There are some new bosses including a new “Raid style” boss with an insane amount of HP requiring clever teamwork and strategy to defeat. The last story boss however is maddeningly badly designed, a horrible encounter that almost soured the entire experience as well as leading to the creation of about 30 new swearwords to describe it’s hateful existence. It almost feels like Sony and Microsoft slipped Gearbox a few quid, hoping to increase the sales of their controllers, after legions of players sling their existing pads at the wall in disgust.
After the introduction of the Sand Skiff you may be expecting something new to drive, sadly this is not the case, despite the new motorbike style vehicle that is one of the few new additions to the enemies arsenal. It’s a glaring omission, made worse by the fact that the dreaded timed quests return, which had to have been my most hated aspects of the original game. Much as I liked the idea of mailing packages or collecting body parts for Dr Zed, the wonky driving physics in the game made those quests an exercise in frustration. The tedium involved in tearing across the map only to find your vehicle doing a 180 because you hit a tiny pebble is something I’d sooner not be reminded of. The DLC also suffers from an increased grind in the form of repeatable quests that quickly grow old, with more focus on playing the same content repeatedly in order to farm those elusive legendary weapons.
[pullquote]The writing and voice acting is probably the strongest aspect of the DLC and is consistently enjoyable.[/pullquote]
If I sound negative it is because I expected more after enjoying Captain Scarlett’s booty so much, which sounds like a line from Mad Moxxi herself. Speaking of which, Moxxi and Tiny Tina make a welcome return along with some new characters. In fact, the writing and voice acting is probably the strongest aspect of the DLC and is consistently enjoyable. Borderlands 2 as a whole has really stepped it up a gear in terms of the quality of the story in comparison to the first game, and while the humour may not be to everyone’s liking it reminds me of Portal 2 in terms of how much I enjoyed the dialogue. This alone makes it worth a play despite my misgivings about the how the DLC seems to be almost going through the motions in terms of offering content.
How much you get out of Mr. Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage really depends on your relationship to the existing game. For players still enjoying the Borderlands experience looking for new content to scratch that itch it is a welcome addition. However for those perhaps starting to tire of the game this DLC really doesn’t offer anything new or fresh to spice things up. Of course, the issue is moot if you have purchased the season pass, which is why the little cynical voice in my head is ringing imaginary alarm bells. Such a promising first start to the 4 content packs for Borderlands 2 will have inspired many to invest in the season pass to save some money, but to see the Gearbox team seemingly running low on ideas this quickly is a little disheartening.