Actual game hunting and general mustachioed antics take a backseat to the machinations of the evil doctor Nakayama, who's trying to create a clone of Borderlands 2 villain Handsome Jack aboard his massive downed ship. The DLC takes place after the campaign, with enemies around level 30 and up. With a local tribe of psychos under Nakayama's mind control, there isn't much big game hunting going on at all.
In fact, dashed expectations is the underlying theme of Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt. The DLC spends a lot of time building tension for a conflict with Nakayama which resolves itself in an unsatisfying, anti-climactic event that comes off as more insulting than humorous. When it's finally time to take on Nakayama, players are given the proverbial shaft and then the credits roll.
In Borderlands 2 proper, Handsome Jack is a smarmy, cocky talking head with a robot army to back up his schtick. Nakayama, meanwhile, is a second-rate Jack wannabe, a guy who instantly regrets challenging you and your fellow Vault Hunters. He contradicts himself constantly and monopolizes much of the DLC's focus, detracting from a potential gentlemen's holiday full of ballyhoos and exotic hunts with Sir Hammerlock. In fact, despite the campaign being named after him, Sir Hammerlock is barely featured at all.
The downloadable campaign takes place across three chapters, with a few side quests tossed in to pad things out. The DLC is fairly short, and where Mr. Torgue's Campaign of Carnage was bolstered by a few great mouthpieces that distracted from the rote mission structures, Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt doesn't have the charisma of Mr. Torgue or Tina to liven up what are ultimately a few switch-flipping and fetch quests.
In a half-hearted attempt at humor, ClapTrap even admits he's trying his best to make a flip-switch quest interesting, but then he gives up, shrugs and tells you to just go and flip the switch. Most of the missions simply task you with destroying DNA sample canisters, or shooting a few animals to tick them off a bullet-point hit-list. The biggest challenge, honestly, is not turning off Borderlands 2, especially with Nakayama telling you how awesome Handsome Jack is and how sorry he is for picking a fight with you and hey-why-don't-you-leave-me-alone.
Thankfully, those burdens are lightened by the elemental savages and witch doctors that help make each firefight more intense. Witch doctors are formidable foes, able to heal other savages and blast away Vault Hunter shields with a single shot. Sometimes they also carry an innate elemental charge. A slag witch doctor, for example, has a heavy resistance to slag while dishing out plenty of his own. Sometimes they even turn into a whirlwind of elemental force, making them very difficult to hit.
Still, even with some powerful new enemies, Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt is mostly a wasted opportunity, setting up a great hunt across exotic lands that never delivers. Nakayama pales in comparison to some of the other major enemies in Borderlands 2 or its previous downloadable content. He's a bumbling, unfocused, insecure wreck and the perfect allegory for Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt as a whole. Instead of being a potent focus of force throughout the campaign and a real threat, Nakayama feels more like a sidekick trying desperately to be accepted. The juxtaposition of the weak Nakayama against the powerful Handsome Jack is probably supposed to be funny, but the gag never works.
Finally, there's the very anti-climactic final encounter with Nakayama, an event that was set up as a joke but deflated the two hours or so it took me to get there. It's a simple event that devalues everything up until that moment and completely derails the final conflict – a fitting end for the laughably lame Nakayama, but ultimately a disservice to players. In the end, Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt feels like a schizophrenic pile of half-baked ideas and bad jokes, with any and all value firmly anchored in the merits of the vanilla Borderlands 2 experience.
This review is based on final code provided by 2K Games. Sir Hammerlock's Big Game Hunt is available on Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and PC for 800 MS Points ($10).
Note: Joystiq does not provide star ratings for downloadable content reviews with the understanding that the quality of the core game's experience is unchanged from the retail release to DLC add-ons; see>: Borderlands 2review.