Borderlands: The Secret Armory of General Knoxx Review
Borderlands was released to almost universal acclaim late last year, which was a surprise to many out there who expected Texas-based Gearbox Software's shooter to fall flat. Game industry analyst Michael Pachter predicted that 2K sent Borderlands to die just before the release dates of bigger games like Dragon Age and Modern Warfare 2, but it went on to sell three million copies across its three platforms. It's only been about four months since then, and already Gearbox has released three DLC add-ons for $10 each. Unfortunately, the first two were big on style but a little light on the exact kind of gameplay people were looking for from a quick add-on.
That's fixed with the third DLC expansion, The Secret Armory of General Knoxx. It's got new vehicles to drive, an expansive playable area, an increase in the level cap from 50 to 61, and new weapons and gear to accompany the levels. The story revolves around Atlas Corporation and its Crimson Lance trying to induce a stranglehold on Pandora after the Vault has been uncovered. As one of the four Vault Hunters, your main objective is to kick them off the planet for good - even if you'll probably also spend at least a few hours on side quests that add to the flavor of this new area of Pandora but don't directly contribute to the story.
Of course, the way you'll take on the new and improved Crimson Lance is the same old way you're used to - by shooting them in the face repeatedly. The vehicle-centric new zones have you traversing the overpass-style highways that surround a kickass new quest hub called T-Bone Junction, and the indoor areas continue much of the same sense of humor and style of the original game. There are new Crimson Lance enemies to deal with, including some ninja-like assassins that dual-wield swords as well as specialized elemental soldiers (that are highly resistant to that type of element), heavier armor, and new native denizens of Pandora, too. Four players can even roll in the same vehicle with the new Lancer, plus there are a couple of more fun rides to try out, too. The sad part, though, is that the weapons on my level 50 Mordecai were so powerful that when I jumped into the Knoxx content on Playthrough 2, the vehicles' rocket launchers and guns were much weaker than a couple of quick shots from my Corrosive-based "Give Sick" revolver.
Still, there's some really great content here, as the Crimson Lance demanded the best aim and tactics from me in the original game, and the new enemies and levels to fight them in - along with actual loot upgrades, unlike the first two add-ons - have ensured that all of the things that motivated me to keep playing the first time were in play here. Borderlands is not exactly strong on story, and while the game's signature style is charming as hell, it's spread way too thin in those first two DLC packs. But here, with Scooter, Moxxi, and Marcus having parts in the game along with an amusing new boss, you'll find that this is a solid return to form for Borderlands. Plus, there's some super-rare new loot along with a side boss that's extremely difficult, so there are some good reasons finally to start running a boss (instead of just looting chests) to get some great loot. Gearbox also threw in a new arena you can deathmatch in, although I've found that if you're going to do that, you might as well just switch to a true competitive action game instead.
Knoxx is the best addition to Borderlands we've seen yet, but we're going to need even more for our money if Gearbox intends on keeping the DLC sales rolling in. They need to deliver more interesting and unique characters, more types of loot, keep increasing the level cap, and expand the base game by way of new weapon types, talents, and maybe even a new character. Hell, fixing the original game's disappointing ending (and almost complete lack of loot to accompany it) would probably be a good idea, too.
As DLC goes, Knoxx is one of the best I've seen ever since the trend of DLC started. It's not the best add-on I've ever played, as that would probably rightfully go to a higher-priced traditional expansion pack (like, say, most of Blizzard's expansion packs and quite a few FPS ones as well), but as DLC goes, it's damn good. I've had a hell of a lot less fun for the same amount of money or more with other expansions, so having the ability to enjoy this content together with friends (and get a new excuse to jump back into Borderlands again) is welcome. If you've been looking for a good reason to re-enter Pandora and start looting and shooting again, spending ten bucks on The Secret Armory of General Knoxx is about as good a reason as you're likely to find.