When the DLC for Borderlands 2 was coming out, I pretty much had no interest in any of them. Perhaps it was because I had played through all the DLC for the first game one after another and pretty much right after finishing the original, and frankly didn’t want to get worn out on such a good game again. Maybe they just didn’t offer me anything on the surface that interested me. I don’t know, but this expansion was different. I knew when I saw it I was going to have to play it. It just looked so different from anything else in the franchise. So I picked it up on a Steam sale when I got the chance. I then proceeded to begin playing it with a group of friends. However, that would be short-lived as we never finished the game as a group. Most of the guys moved on to the next game before we finished this one, so it remained partially complete, but never finished…
Until last week. Last week, found myself in an odd situation where South Park didn’t take nearly enough time to finish, and yet Deus Ex: The Fall was supposed to be out 2 weeks from then. It was an unexpected skip in my gaming schedule. So, without a clue how I wanted to fill it in, I found myself returning here. It was time to finish and review Tiny Tina’s adventure. So how was it? Why don’t you step inside…
Story: Well, it’s finally over. You faced off with Jack while he summoned “The Warrior” and beat both their asses into oblivion. However, other problems have since sprung up, and you all need answers. To get those answers, you need someone to question who is willing to give you those answers. And while you are busy pummeling that willingness out of a Hyperion employee, the other vault hunters who started this mess by opening the original vault are doing their best to wait it out. And what better way then to gather up with Tiny Tina to play her new campaign of “Bunkers and Badasses.”
This entire expansion to the hit game Borderlands 2 takes place as you play one of the “heroes” one of these original hunters chose to play as. Of course this boils down to “your hunter carries over into their game” but for the sake of the story this is not the case. However, what is the case is your character arrives in town to find everything dark and spooky as an evil wizard as screwed up everything. But not only are things dark and spooky with an evil wizard mucking things up, but the queen who could save everyone has gone missing! Time to go save her and save the lands! Roll for initiative!
From this point, Tina will guide you through her fantasy land made just for her friends as you fight orcs, dwarves, spiders, skeletons, and even a couple new bosses in a quest, that while overall straight forward with one never-changing goal, gives you a few twists you will see coming if you are a seasoned table-top (or any) RPG player a mile away… and yet realize you were supposed to by the nature of the tale. Tina is not the best at being the BM (Bunker Master) and this becomes apparent within seconds of starting the DLC as the game wastes no time to have the players remind Tina that if it’s a messed up world, it can’t be bright and happy (hence it being spooky, even if it is only after she changes it). These kind of “touches” from our BM are littered through out the experience and will get a chuckle at least as often as not.
And while the game is clearly being goofy and having fun with the theme of the whole adventure, it also has some nice sobering moments that will stop you dead in your tracks. Overall, it is a simple tale and a bit of a spoof, but it is masterfully crafted and will wow you with where it dares to go… and goes amazingly well.
Graphics: [System Specs: AMD Phenom II 6X 1100T (6 core) processor running at 3.3 Ghz, 4GB RAM, Nvidia Geforece 760 GTX with 2GB VRAM, and Windows 7]
I have to be honest, when I played this DLC, the graphics outright floored me, but I’m not sure I can say they did fairly. You see, when I first played Borderlands 2, I didn’t do much with the settings. I basically took the default, pushed the resolution to match my monitor, and ran from there. The game looked great, but it was basically a higher resolution version of the exact same thing I saw when my brothers played on their 360s.
Fast forward to this round, and I had decided “what the hell” and let a little program called Geforce Experience update the settings to what Nvidia recommended for my current hardware. As a result, everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) got maxed out, revealing a whole new set of visual details and lighting effects I had never seen in the game! And wow did it floor! From watching sun-beams drift across the scene traced by the huge stone mountain I was climbing to smoke actually fill the room when enough rockets went off exploding everywhere (my fault) to actually seeing pools of blood that would flow down to the lowest place possible when an enemy became salsa, there was so much more to the game in general then anything I had seen. And the detail work in everything (and I mean everything) was something to behold. Fort his reason, expect all my PC game reviews from here on out to list the specs of my PC in the beginning of the graphics part of the review.
That said, this DLC is about the most different looking expansion for any game I have ever seen from the game it’s a part of. While most of the game takes a sci-fi/spaghetti western cross over look, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep dives headlong into a classic fantasy image in literally everything it does, from the first town and it’s citizens to the last room with the last boss. The only things here even wielding guns are a bunch of dwarves, a few specific orcs, and you. (Come on, this is Bordlands 2. It’s all about your loot and guns. They couldn’t take those away!) As a result, the feel given from just the images truly stand out on their own, mostly in a dark way as you dungeon crawl through a creepy forest, a mountain range, and… well… an actual dungeon.
Of course all of this is also still in the classic Borderlands art style where cell-shading meets high-end artwork, but this definitely works in the game’s favor as it lets this new set of creatures look more like they came out of a comic you might have seen on the shelves.
Sound: Like everything else Borderlands, your ears will be very pleased as you play. The music won’t really stand out this time around, but every weapon sounds right, from the clanging of blades, to the thud of them being flung into you and things around you to the explosions of TNT bundles, this game just sounds right, and that’s before you get to the voice acting.
Simply put, everyone, once again, brought their A game, even as they seemed to understand that for the most part this expansion is simply not meant to be serious, making a great “last hurrah” with the team from the original game. That’s right, if your character isn’t saying, all the voice acting in this “episode” is from the guys you played with in the original title.
This is Tina’s story, and while she has some really insanely awesome moments during it, the ones who steal the show are Handsome Jack and Brick. Handsome Jack is simply up to his old self as the “evil wizard” (no spoilers, trust me) and hilarious as ever for it just for being a total ass but in one of the funniest ways possible. There is a reason he is one of the most popular villains in recent gaming, and he shines through like none other. But Brick proves to be the surprise here, also by being himself. Right from the opening when he picks the “siren” character to play, he is instantly hilarious, and you look forward to everything he has to say, even as you KNOW he’s going to cause trouble for you and any other player joining you.
Gameplay: If you are thinking of getting this DLC, you have likely played Borderlands 2 already, so you have a good idea of just how this is going to play, and you will be absolutely right. When it get’s right down to it, this expansion is simply more of the same gameplay-wise. You will run around in an FPS loot-fest killing enemies, taking down bosses, finishing quests, laughing at the game as you go, and upgrading your gear/powers/badass points. The only real differences here are that you really shouldn’t play this one until you finish the original and the game features some new guns/gear that is fantasy themed.
There are exactly 2 reasons you shouldn’t play it first, through (even though you could technically start it as soon as you reach Claptrap’s home). First and foremost is the challenge. This DLC on normal starts everything at level 35, so if you show up with your level 1, you are asking for an ass-kicking. Plain and simple, play the main game and level yourself to the game, because if you don’t it will kick your ass.
Second and more personally, this one is VERY spoiler-riffic on a few very specific points in the main game right from the very very beginning. It assumes you have completed it in story just as it does level. Do yourself a favor, and for both reasons, make sure those assumptions are true before you dive in.
Bugs: I only found two bugs in this experience,and oddly enough, one was in the new effects Nvidia setup to happen for me.
- Lighting didn’t always clear (and never did from the bottom pixel line): Sometimes, if I was hit with the paladin weapons, the blue fade wouldn’t completely leave the screen until either something else overrode it or I left a map. It would just sit there, tinting the bottom 8th of the screen with blobs of blue glow. There was also exactly one line of pixels at the bottom of the screen that wouldn’t always clear out of an explosion. Both of these were exceptionally minor, and never got in the way of gameplay, however. I am basically chalking it up to Gearbox expecting most players to just pick up the game and play, so they didn’t worry about the few who would max the game out. A bit of a disappointment, but at the same time understandable as that is what most gamers on any platform are going to do. But with Geforce Experience now out, they may want to reconsider such decisions in the future, as a lot of PC gamers will now be able to get those max settings (for them) with literally 2 mouse clicks.
- WHERE THE HELL IS HER ARMOR: This, however, was a much bigger glitch in the game where I was attempting to get Ellie’s armor for her. Basically the first time I tried, the triggered events to tell you how to get the armor simply never happened. The spiders never attacked Ellie never explained, and the box NEVER BECAME CLICKABLE. Coming back the next day (as I decided I had played long enough and needed sleep) allowed everything to happen normally, but when a mission outright refuses to start, that is a bit of a big issue. Thankfully, it was only a side-mission.
Overall: After playing Borderlands 2, I found myself having enjoyed the game, but having at the same time had enough of it. I didnt have any real interest in most of the DLC for simply because it seemed like it was offering more of the same, which while I clearly enjoyed, didn’t really need more of. This one, however, had my interest as it offered a complete change of pace and scenery. It did not disappoint. It was a nice compact and complete piece of gaming and if you are looking for more Borderlands, but something different at the same time, you really can’t do much better then this.