Saturday, June 29, 2013

BL2: Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep DLC (360) Review

Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep is the latest piece of DLC for Borderlands 2.  Taking a break from fighting Hyperion, Lilith, Brick and Mordecai are playing a Dungeons and Dragons-style RPG called "Bunkers and Badasses" with Tina as the dungeon master, with your Vault Hunters being the player characters.

The game within the game takes place in a fantasy setting very different from the normal wastelands of Pandora.  It all starts out as a bright and sunny place with butterflies and rainbows until Tina is reminded it was supposed to be bleak.  Then it becomes a dark, spooky place, resembling the dark woods from several fairy tales.  Throughout the DLC, you will be travelling from a shore, through the woods and to the tall tower of Dragon Keep.  The settings are cool, and thankfully will change to their cheerier counterparts once you beat the main campaign.  Each area is pretty big.  You have plenty of room to explore and various places to go for the many quests contained within.

To go along with the new setting, there are plenty of new enemies that fit the fantasy theme.  There are skeletons, knights, orcs, golems and treants to name a few.  Some behave similarly to enemies found in the base game, there are Suicide Skeletons and the golems are similar to the Goliaths.  Even so, there are lots of new things, like sorcerers that summon things like fire birds, skeletons that have a sword that must be removed to kill them, and floating skeleton heads.  For some reason, I really like the treants.  Maybe it's just because I haven't played a game that lets me shoot them, but the little ones have some great animation.  Not only do some of them have axes stuck in their heads, but when they die, they sink into the ground and grow a small patch of mushrooms.  It's a cool little touch that I enjoy.  The most annoying enemies are the Orcs warlords that level up similar to the Goliaths.  They can quickly become five levels over you, making them ridiculously hard to kill and are best avoided at that point.

The story of Assault on Dragon Keep is actually really good.  Without giving away many spoilers, it primarily deals with Tina dealing with the events that take place near the end of the main game.  It's funny and even sad at some points.  Being a game within a game, it is very self aware.  I like that it breaks the fourth wall without actually breaking it.  It stays true to the world of Borderlands while still cramming in lots of references, winks and nods to fantasy and sci-fi.  In a lot of ways it's a love letter to the "nerdier" side of life (yay!), and I definitely approve.  Plus, it even has my new favorite character, Mister Torgue.  I'm glad they found a way to stick him in there because my wife and I loved listening to him talk in the Torgue DLC, and I'm happy to hear him yell again.  Although the best lines, to me, are when Tina is voicing Roland.  Hearing the strange way she talks but in Roland's voice is just funny.

Being a game all about loot, you will be happy to know there are several pieces of unique loot in Assault on Dragon Keep.  The best ones I've come across so far are the "fireball" and "magic missile" grenades, and of course, the "Swordsplosion" gun.  Yes, it is a gun that shoots swords.  However, Mister Torgue makes it better by demanding the sword explodes, and then throws out more swords that also explode.  Even if I don't use it much, I have to keep that gun.  It's probably the coolest weapon in the game (thanks, Torgue!)

At this point you are likely wondering how long the DLC is.  The main campaign itself is about 5 hours.  A chunk of this will be spent on the boss fights, since they last a long time.  There's three main ones, and each one took my wife and I about 20 minutes.  We were both level 50 and playing on True Vault Hunter mode if you want a frame of reference.  The boss fights were probably the least fun part of the whole campaign.  They were fine fights but just took too long.  Besides the main campaign, there are numerous side quests to do.  Many of these poke fun at MMOs or are references to other game and the like.  They are enjoyable, and there are at least 2-3 in each zone.

Unlike the previous DLCs, which had three achievements each, Dragon Keep has ten.  You get a few through normal progression and doing the missions, but a few require extra effort, like feeding the queen, attacking the darkness (snicker) and getting the amulet.  The hardest would be defeating the Raid boss, which will likely require a full party, same as the other raid bosses.

I enjoyed Assault on Dragon Keep.  The main campaign and side quests are both more enjoyable than Campaign of Carnage, although I didn't find it quite as funny.  However, it is very well written and humorous.  There's plenty of references to sci-fi and fantasy properties while still remaining true to the Borderlands universe.  It has enough hours of playtime to be worth the $10.  If you enjoyed playing Borderlands, Assault on Dragon Keep should be on your list of DLCs to buy BECAUSE... REASONS!

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