Genre: First Person Shooter Developer: Publisher: Classification: MA15+ Release Date: 25th Feb 2010 Platforms:XBOX360
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The Good bits
New enemies, weapons and vehicles.
Lasts longer than most full games.
The Bad stuff
Lots of needless driving.
It’s no secret that there’s a lot of love for Borderlands. Hell, I love it so much I want to drag it behind Marcus’ school bus and make it pregnant. Yep. It’s that damned good. But bastard love-children aside, Gearbox Software has been listening to fans by giving us what we want; a constant feed of downloadable content to sate our desires and to give us something to do once we’ve clocked Level 50.
The first batch of DLC, The Zombie Island of Dr Ned, gave you a 6 or so hour jaunt with a brand new class of enemy that didn’t shoot guns, rather corrosive phlegm attacks to disorient while they swarmed, and was met with a favourable response. The second, Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot, ditched the open world formula for arena styled combat, and wasn’t received as well due to the lack of levelling up and it's a near impossibility to solo with a level 50 character. Gearbox heard fans’ cries and has now given us the best of both worlds with perhaps the most solid piece of DLC ever, The Secret Armory of General Knoxx.
Rather than just tack on a few new areas and throw in a boss here or there, The Secret Armory gives you a totally new feeling across the board. The first thing of note is the level cap has been raised to 61 - and you’ll need a couple of hundred thousand XP to get through each level between 50 and 61 so you might want to pack a lunch. You’ve lost the fast-track (teleportation) ability so you’ll spend most of the time driving from point A to point B - pretty much my only gripe with the add-on. The first few times you gallivant about you’ll have that tangible sense of wonder but by your third trip back from The Armory you’ll consider quitting and restarting to respawn back at the main mission hub. It artificially lengthens the play for no reason other than an attempt to prevent easy loot-farming - slightly disappointing but understandable.
Upon arriving at T-Bone Junction, early missions have you getting pieces together for a new ride - The Monster, lovingly knocked together by the white trash mechanic known as Scooter with some of his best dialogue yet - considering the epic amount of pop culture references and the wry sense of humour this title has, that’s saying something. The Monster is a beefed up off-roader with a chunky boost and homing missiles. You’ll later get access to the poorly armoured but super quick Racer and a Lancer vehicle with seats and weapons for you and three buddies - a turret, shock cannon and proximity mines all coming into play.
As you explore T-Bone Junction the first new enemies strike, Lance Assassins. You’ll be set upon by some ninja type babes with lightsaber-esque blades, and these honeys move quick as all hell, so stay frosty. Apparently Knoxx has put a bounty on your head so five teams of these sexy mamas will crop up and try to hack you to pieces, usually when you enter a new area for the first time. They teleport in, so again, stay frosty.
I should note that I was playing with a Level 50 character and while most enemies peaked at Level 39, it was still a challenge and is probably the toughest section of Borderlands to date. Veterans know any weapon with a corrosive element works wonders against the Crimson Lance, but they’ve flipped the script in General Knoxx, adding enemies like the Chemical Lancer, who is completely immune to corrosive damage - you’ll need a varied assortment of elemental damagers in your arsenal.
Other new troops include the Pyro and Shock Lancer, Rocketeer, a Medic that deploys healing turrets and the Devastator, a walker suit enemy who takes a tonne of damage before he goes down. The buck don’t stop there though. Midgets have also gotten a make-over, with many now using skags as mounts for a one-two punch combo, but the highlight of the DLC is the loot midgets.
You’ll be casually minding your own business, popping open the thousandth chest/locker/safe/fridge (or the new two-tiered weapons chest) for some cash or shiny new toy of destruction, when suddenly a 'meat popsicle' midget will jump out shrieking wildly trying to claw your face off.
Missions will be handed out by the usual group of ragtag misfits, including Scooter, a midget in the Sunken Sea, Marcus, Mad Moxxi and eventually Athena, who’s basically the star of the main mission arc and General Knoxx’s main adversary. You’ll have to liberate her from Mr Shank’s Prison to get the ball rolling. On your trek to get to the prison the final new creature known as a Drifter will greet you. No, these aren’t dudes that want to crash on your couch for a night and raid your fridge - they’re massive Daddy-Long-Legs that spew death, travel in packs and are best tackled in a vehicle. Once Athena is safely tucked away at T-Bone Junction, you’ll worm your way back through to The Armory.
Athena hides her mission updates in audio files prefaced by the male enhancement drug 'Engorge' and if that doesn’t immediately slap a smile on your dial, you need to check your pulse to see if you’re alive. You’ll eventually get to the final confrontation with Knoxx, who has been illegally stockpiling weapons of mega-mass destruction, as he, in a beefed up mech, and several Devastator back-ups try to blast you into oblivion, but he eventually succumbed to an arsenal of corrosive weapons of awesome.
After mopping up the leftovers, you’ll enter the code and be in The Armory. Athena wants to expose his treachery, so before you make it go boom, you’ll open it all up, for all to see. This gives you a three-minute window to go shopping. There are about a hundred or so weapon chests with all the randomly generated boomsticks and class-mods you could wish for, though the rarer types are accessed during the second play through, or with a full four-person crew. Cue explosion and credit montage…but that’s not all.
There are several other bits and pieces to knock out after Knoxx’s demise, the two most noteworthy, Circle of Duty and defeating Crawmerax the Invincible. Circle of Duty is an extended take on the arena combat from the original game, with you gunning down substantial waves of Lance elite troopers. This differs by having six instead of the normal three rounds and you’ll want at least one wingman for the last few, as vehicles enter the fray and will callously run over your sorry butt if you get caught out in the open.
Crawmerax is a giant crab that is to be feared and rarely taken on solo. Those in doubt note the Level 64 adorning his health bar, but
the brave amongst you will be rewarded with some of the most kick-arse weapons known to Pandora if you manage to defeat him. I wouldn’t recommend tackling this one until you’ve over-levelled to 61 and got a few buddies in tow.
The Secret Armory of General Knoxx is by far one of the best pieces of DLC out there and will give you a minimum of ten hours of gameplay, significantly more if you want to hit the new level cap, and with more Borderlands DLC on the way, they certainly know what the fans want, and how to deliver the goods.