So, on one level, all of Borderlands 2 is basically the same, right. You go to a place, you kill the things that are there, and then you pick up a bunch of guns. No matter what anyone says to you on the ECHO recorder, it's all going to boil down to that.
That being said, sometimes the messages you receive to give you a thin excuse to blast the hell out of random enemies are freaking hilarious, and that is the case the with Mr Torgue's Campaign of Carnage. Mad Moxxi and Tiny Tina are used perfectly, egging you on with their own unique brands of insanity, and the titular Mr Torgue is a delight.
I have a theory (expounded several times before) that the Borderlands 2 writing is at its best when it gives you permission to act as if you were playing a video game, and Mr Torgue is a further example of that particular virtue. He is CONSTANTLY SCREAMING IN EXCITEMENT, and is clearly enamored with the spectacle of the game's violence. He is a pure concentration of everything "macho" (he once wrestled a shark wearing a bolo tie) while retaining a childlike innocence that makes it more a celebration of excess than "Dr Pepper Ten"-style overcompensation.
As you know, we are all about celebrating excess here at the decadent gamer blog, so Mr Torgue quickly became one of my favorite video game characters. I mean, everything about him is incredibly goofy, sometimes cringe-inducingly so, but that is the essence of his charm. As much as we sometimes dress it up with serious examinations of theme, the hobby of playing video games is silly more often than not, and it's nice to have a character who embraces that silliness without making fun of it. I kind of wish there was an optional "Mr Torgue commentary track" for every video game in existence.
My only complaint about this DLC is the final boss. So, after fighting your way up to the top of Pandora's Ultimate Baddass Tournament bracket, your rival for the championship substitutes a giant robot dinosaur, Badassasuarus Rex, in his place in the championship fight. Now, on the face of this, it's great. My first thought was "I approve of every part of this plan." Yes, it's cheating, but as I mentioned before, Mr Torgue's Campaign of Carnage is a celebration of spectacle, so fighting a giant robot dinosaur is more or less the perfect way to round it out.
Except the damned thing reflects bullets. I hate this mechanic with a fiery passion that can scarcely be described. For literally dozens of hours at a stretch, I can make it through the game with a philosophy of "deal so much damage it doesn't matter if half my shots miss and I have no effective defense," and then these stupid bullet-reflecting bosses come along and make me aim and take cover instead of standing out in the open like a moron. It's a jarring and unfortunate reminder that I'm not actually good at the game.
So, this DLC was mostly incredibly fun, with a great new character and some hilarious performances by a couple of the main game's MVPs, but then it fell apart in the last ten minutes and unnecessarily whiffed what should have been an easy climax.