Game: Borderlands 2: Mister Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage
Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Available on: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows PC
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
There are many points during the Campaign of Carnage DLC (the second full-sized add-on pack for Borderlands 2) that remind you that no one does post-release content like Gearbox’s Borderlands team. For me it was when I was sent to track down the third best serial killer in the world and get his autograph on behalf of Tiny Tina, the most lovable sociopathic 13-year-old that ever was.
It’s a fetch quest, essentially, and anyone who has played either of the Borderlands titles will predict the outcome with ease, but the very nature of the quest is indicative of the uniquely skewed sense of fun that stitches the franchise together. Other examples abound, such as hunting down and killing a group of game reviewers who gave Torgue’s favourite game an “unfavourable” 6/10 (a brilliantly satirical stab at the public outcry sure to occur when ever a critic dislikes a fan favourite), or taking Tina’s pet puppy, Enrique (a huge, flaming Skag) for a “walk” by running the hell away from it as fast as possible.
But these are just asides, hors d’oeuvres served alongside the main side-dish that pad out the content without ever feeling like filler. The actual story of Mister Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage is a simple tale of hubris, betrayal, revenge and pectorals, delivered mostly through the medium of shouted expletives and gratuitous explosions.
Short-tempered and promiscuous egg-head Patricia Tannis has discovered a new vault beneath a crater in the Pandoran desert, that will only open when the blood of Pandora’s greatest coward is spilt by its baddest badass. Not one to miss an opportunity for organised mass violence, the CEO of Torgue Weapons – Mister Torgue himself – has instigated a bloodthirsty tournament to find the one destined to open the new vault, and renamed its location as “The Badass Crater of Badassitude”. At the moment, the number one ranked fighter is a hulking head-case named Piston, and it’s up to you to change that.
As they’ve already established with characters like Handsome Jack, Tannis, Tiny Tina, Mad Moxxi and Sir Hammerlock, Gearbox excel at creating out-sized characateurs, and Torgue is one of their finest examples; perhaps even more so than Captain Scarlett (the primary NPC in the last batch of DLC). Almost childlike in his enthusiasm for explosive thrills, his every word is literally writ large (all his subtitles are in capitals) and, despite his obviously unhinged mind, his bizarre code of ethics keeps him just about on the right side of the good guy / bad guy divide in a world where no one is entirely trustworthy. Torgue shouts and swears, spits venom at the weak and exonerates the strong every time, and his presence as one of the main narrative guides (alongside your sponsor, Mad Moxxi herself) actually becomes welcome amidst all the relentless murder, as he usually only chimes in when things are going your way and you’re ready to move onto the next objective.
Anyone expecting something as soulless as Mad Moxxi’s Underdome (the least enjoyable piece of otherwise-excellent DLC released for the original Borderlands) will be in for a pleasant surprise. Yes, the central conceit of the Campaign of Carnage is taking part in a tournament, but it’s far from the repetitive fight after fight grind that usually plagues the arena segment of an RPG. In fact, aside from an initial tussle and a handful of boss fights, you’ll spend very little time in the arena itself – and every time you do it’s fighting for your life against another ranked fighter.
In between arena matches, the gameplay doesn’t really deviate from formula. You’ll still be sent to kill stuff, collect stuff, find ECHO recorders and generally tear up the desert, but the quests here seem more imaginative (even though they’re really not) and so you forgive the lack of true originality because it’s all so much damn fun. The new areas aren’t greatly different from what has gone before, but the Forge (which you’ll enter towards the very end of the quest line) is a brilliant lava-covered junkyard filled with murderous machines and at least one Skag that used to be a guy who got cursed after cheating on his husband (you’ll understand when you get there).
Winning arena matches and completing various challenges (like starting a fight in a seedy bar and clearing out the Badass enforcers within the time limit, or winning a checkpoint race) will earn you Torgue Tokens with which you can buy some seriously epic loot. All of these challenges have several tiers and can be farmed by high level characters for some of the best guns available, even after the main campaign is done and dusted.
There are minor issues, such as the occasional graphical bug and a problem with having an inconsistent enemy respawn system in the challenge areas when you fail and restart. On more than one occasion I went back to the job board and reselected the challenge, but when I returned to the area I had to wait around for a few minutes before I could start properly. Also, the difficulty level spikes quite dramatically, and there are a few exterior areas where the relentlessly respawning biker punks become irritating and tedious rather than genuinely challenging.
Mister Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage took me around 6 hours to complete, and I didn’t complete a single challenge above tier one. Anyone who plans to grind and farm for tokens and loot will be in hog’s heaven for hours on end, as some of the gear that dropped even as I whipped through it with a level 22 character was incredible. I should point out that I completed every single quest that came my way, including the bounty boards, and I was pretty thorough with each. Still, an extra 6 hours of Borderlands 2 is well worth the 800 MSP (£6.99) asking price.
VERDICT: More proof that Gearbox are the kings of post-release content, Mister Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage not only stands up to the excellent Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate’s Booty, but surpasses it – thanks in no small part to the fantastic Torgue himself. More Tiny Tina, more Scooter, more Moxxi, more loot, violence, explosions and wild-eyed, psychotic joy, the Campaign of Carnage is exactly what every fan of Borderlands 2 wants; more Borderlands 2. An exceptional example of extra content and a brilliant quest line in its own right, this is what DLC should be. If Gearbox maintain the incredible high standard they’ve set with the next two add-ons, the final package will be one of the finest examples of balls-out first-person fun available on any system. So if that sounds like your cup of poison, Mister Torgue and I just have one question: