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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Borderlands 2: Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep Review.

"A grim-dark world that smells like death an' butts an' stuff."

I've said it  once and I'll say it again, fuggin' nobody does DLC like Gearbox. I've never understood why that is. Even when their DLC doesn't seem up to snuff, it's just because we're comparing it to the amazing standard they've set for themselves. Hammerlock's big game hunt wasn't amazing, but it was still fun, the final boss was brilliant in it's brevity, and you could have Werner Herzog passive aggressively comment on your hunting skill. 

In less than a year they've released a good 30 hours of extra content for Borderlands 2 and that is insane...I never understood what Skyrim's deal was. Wait, yes I did, that must have eaten up a good two DLC packs worth of time. So here we are, the season pass finale in which Tiny Tina plays dungeon master for a game of D&D with the original vault hunters. It was more than worth the wait.

If you never cared for TT's antics, then tough cookies, she's all over the place here. If you couldn't get enough of her adorable 90's hip hop slang (like me) you will cherish the six-ish hours you spend with her in the campaign, and this campaign is a trip. Gearbox went all out making brand new assets and re-skinning everything from the vending machines to the re-spawn checkpoints. They even went as far as to record setting appropriate banter for the previously mentioned vending machines and re-spawn cheackpoints. The checkpoints in particular made me chuckle more than once, "because perma-death runs are for weirdos." Delightful. Oh... and all new enemies. All of them. Did I forget to mention that?

Never before has there been such a radical shift in Pandora's bestiary than here, well actually that's not true. If I had to aline what this feels closest to in terms of their previous efforts I'd say Dragon Keep would be the happy medium between Zombie Island and General Knoxx. For those not in the know, those were easily the best parts of that entire game. Knoxx because this is the funniest and best written dlc episode (excluding the inspired addition of the character Mr. Torgue) and Zombie Island because it's a refreshing departure from BL2's usual setting and nearly all the enemies are melee based.

"That sentence had too many syllables, APOLOGIZE!"
This isn't a one two punch of a couple new monsters and something that shoots guns. There are skeletons, ka-nig-its, orcs, dwarves, and dragons...and mimics (Jesus, the mimics). While all the orcs need in terms of strategy is some fire, the skeletons (which you'll spend most of your time fighting) will throw your head shot method in the toilet. You see, their heads break when their health is halfway gone and panic will ensue.  So overall I'm pleased how differently this chapter plays out. The main quest line is pretty meaty and I like how a lot of the side quests are offered along the same route so you can double up on stuff to do without going too far out of your way.

But the most surprising thing about Dragon Keep is how it manages to keep the main story going. All previous DLC, while chronologically taking place after the end, were sideshows. The way in which the aftermath of the main game's finest hour (Where Angels Fear to Tread) is dealt with was unexpected. The cursory mention of Tina's friendship with Roland is now a central plot point and believe me when I say Tina has a surprisingly compelling prospective on who the real villain of BL2 was.

Cap that off with a touching denouement and Dragon Keep feels like the best stopping point this game has ever had. But they still leave their foot in the door for one LAST hurrah. But I don't care, if I have to wait another 2 and a half years for more Borderlands so be it. Lord knows they deserve a break.

We hold these truths to be self evident, that all dead are created evil.

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