A Game of Games
Platforms: Xbox 360//PlayStation 3//PC Genre: Open-World, First Person Shooter Developer: Gearbox Software Publisher: 2K Games Platform Reviewed on: PlayStation 3
Sir. Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt was the weakest of the Borderlands 2 DLC expansions, which is why I am extremely happy to announce Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep is the best of the DLC expansions. The Tiny Tina focused expansion delivers an hilarious adventure that only the world of Pandora could provide. However it doesn’t stop there,. It is able to provide an array of intelligent humour on various topics such as nerd culture; deliver a diverse range of new enemy types and environments; but best of all it gives us a better understanding of Tiny Tina as a character. Assault on Dragon Keep is able to balance hilarity with an emotional underlining tale, one that those who completed Borderlands 2 will appreciate and understand.
When you begin Assault on Dragon Keep we are introduced to the Pandorian version of Dudgeon & Dragon, called Bunkers & Badasses. The entire DLC takes place within this B&B game, which allows Tina herself to alter the world on the fly. Watching as a beautiful picturesque environment gets turned to a dark dreary landscape as you traverse the land, is a sight to behold. Tina will be altering boss fights, platforming elements and aspects of the games narrative as you go, leading to some hilarious moments. Want to pick up that loot? Well sadly in the B&B game you keep rolling a 1 on the board, meaning the gun slips out of your hands dealing you extreme damage, or perhaps transforms the weapon into a big boss battle – with swords for hands of course. This premise is pure genius and allows Gearbox to go balls-to-the-wall crazy – more so than usual.
Since the expansion takes place inside the B&B world, it gives Borderlands 2 the chance to revisit characters who may have been lost throughout the main campaign. This is actually pivotal to the game’s narrative, which slowly unfolds throughout the 6-7 hour campaign (expect over 12 hours of gameplay including various side missions). Though Assault on Dragon Keep is definitely one of the funniest gaming experience I have encountered, it also balances a mature narrative throughout.
Tiny Tina has always been portrayed as a fun-loving over-the-top character (except for one side mission) during Borderlands 2, but we are finally given a deeper look into the character’s personality. This was one of the memorable moments of the DLC, the 180 mood-switch never felt forced and never felt like the DLC suffered because of it. It was a perfect way to end the Borderlands 2 story, moving on from the events of the game’s campaign and kudos to Gearbox for pulling it off exceptionally well.
Assault on Dragon Keep constantly finds a way to make jokes about typical gaming scenarios. Have you ever played a shooter and randomly given a puzzle you have no clue how to beat? Or a horrible platforming section that only finds ways to frustrate? Well Dragon Keep won’t hesitate to poke fun at these moments, giving gamers a good chuckle along the way. These hilarious situations are constantly provided through the game’s narrative approach, from Brick’s obsession to punch things when he gets a high roll or Tina’s idea to create dwarves that resemble the Gunzerker class, this is one of gaming’s funniest experiences yet.
Dragon’s Keep also provided the most robust variety of enemies any of the game DLC expansions have offered. I was continuously surprised at the variety of enemy types, from fire mages, to immortal skeletons and orcish warlords, the variety of enemies continued. We are also provided with a handful of big boss battles including a new raid boss, all providing players with a decent challenge against some unique enemies. There does feel like a strong lack of loot throughout the expansion, since there is a definite focus on providing players with Iridium to spend at the new vendor unlocked at the campaigns completion. Though players can trade this Iridium for loot, what was offered never felt worth the effort.
The variations also carry over into the game’s environments,. There are many unique areas that always kept exploring fresh. Walking through forests, exploring castles and underground mines, truly emphasises the epic journey you are undertaking. Which makes completing the DLC’s many side quests more enjoyable, and, if you didn’t guess, these quests also mirror the hilarious self-aware comedy that the DLC’s main narrative contained.
Dragon Keep does a great job at referencing many fantasy-adventure stories, including nods to Skyrim, Dark Souls, typical online gaming stereotypes and even a side quest that will please haters of Joffrey from Games of Thrones. One side quest that had me particularly in stitches was when Mister Torgue tried to be accepted into nerd culture. It provides a hilarious look on society’s love of anything geek related and how some hardcore fans of nerd culture are strongly against its mainstream appeal. You wouldn’t think this subject is able to provide many laughs, but the excellent writing provides some great realizations that can be compared to real life situations. These charming side quests never felt like a chore, instead they were adventures that I wanted to complete just so I could experience every laugh Dragon Keep had to offer.
The usual problems with Borderlands 2 were still present however, with a large amount of pop-in almost every time I entered an area and constant issues with on-screen notifications overstaying their welcome. These are small issues in the overall scheme of things, but it a shame these issues continue to be ever-present inside comparatively smaller areas than the main campaign.
Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep provides the best Borderlands 2 expansion, bar none. It offers players the charming and witty dialog we have come to expect from the franchise, and the games premise allows an all-star cast of characters to make an appearance in some form. What makes this DLC so brilliant apart from the intelligent setting, is the game’s ability to balance hours of laughter alongside a deep and meaningful narrative. It is an experience that captured my full attention, until every single mission was complete.
Assault on Dragon Keep lifted my spirits and enjoyment for the series after the poor showing of Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt, it not only exceeded my expectations it set a whole new bar.
This, is truly a Game of Games.
Balances hours of laughter, with an interesting emotional angle
All-star cast of Borderlands franchise favourites
Amount of enemy and environmental variation
Lacks impressive loot
The usual Borderlands issues still apply