Jango's The Secret Armoury of General Knoxx (Borderlands DLC) review
When I first heard that there would be a new DLC for Borderlands I managed to muster as much excitement as I do cleaning my toilet. Why? Well, the last two DLCs for Borderlands have, for the most part, been quite disappointing offering slightly disjointed experiences that seem to be total strangers to the original story, with as much playability as a doll's house that's been hurled off a cliff. So when the announcement about 'The Secret Armoury of General Knoxx' was made, and subsequent details started dribbling out (as if from a freshly squished slug), I could be forgiven for my cynicism and overall 'meh' about it. However, why did I eventually get it? And more importantly is it any good? Well, here's why ..
In the beginning there was 'oooh' ..
As soon as I took the jump gate to 'T-Bone Junction' (the starter zone for this DLC) I was immediately struck by how it looked. Now, the original game had a very unique look to it for an FPS hybrid, a look that sadly turned some interested parties away, but as those who played Borderlands will know it actually hid a great deal of immersion that you soon came to appreciate as sheer awesomesauce. So why bring this up? Well, this new DLC brings with it another level of detail on top of the original game so the environments come across as fresh, vibrant and multi-layered. As I mentioned, from the very outset you're treated with a taster of what's to come from the vista you first look out upon to the first settlement you wander aimlessly around in. They've done some really nice work to add more depth, more tweaks, and more atmosphere to the game .. moreso than the original had already achieved so well.
My experiences with Borderlands DLCs immediately made me resist getting excited, instead taking the more cautious approach of expecting the zones to be tiny, the detail eventually to become samey, the usual recoloured enemies to kill, with a story and characters so flimsy you could cough and destroy any substance they had .. all things that made the previous DLCs make me want to pluck out my gaming soul with a rusty spoon. However, I was soooo wrong. In the first 3 hours of the DLC I had seen many different enemies, many different details, many different fight mechanics, and HUGE zones. I'll be honest, I was waiting for something negative at almost every corner but it never came .. what did come was more awesomesauce, sometimes with win-fries.
Quests, loot, vehicles, levelling, enemies and blubber ..
Within the first hour of the DLC you get to meet some old and relatively new friends. Scooter, the redneck from the original game who requested your help to get back at the guy who 'destroyed my ma's girl parts', is back and with an awesome new vehicle for you to use with guided missles. Marcus (the weapons guy from New Haven) is also in town trying desperately to not look like a cross between a Columbian drug baron and an Italian pimp. As well as these old faces, there's also the slightly odd but welcomed appearance of Mad Moxxi (the subject of the second DLC). The first few quests introduce you to the main zones in the DLC, where these key characters are, as well as help you find key locations like the bounty board and so on. However, what's quite refreshing is that you immediately find a handful of things that were absent in the other DLCs that made the original game so great, and almost without noticing it. Before long you're venturing all over the place on various quests that take you on to meet some very formidable opponents, and some awesome environments.
Borderlands always prided itself on loot .. weapons in particular. I'd almost forgotten how many guns there are in the game, and this new DLC brings even more to the already trembling table. Personally I didn't get my first weapon upgrade until I hit level 54 (some 3-4 hours in), but don't let that fool you there's a LOT of loot to be had and money to be made. You'll certainly need to pay more attention to the weapons you pick up than in the previous DLCs as the enemies are more sophisticated and more of a challenge - you can't just blast away and wade through it - this isn't like the Doctor Ned DLC where it's effectively a blast fest, far from it. However, I can't say how frustrating it would be if you didn't have the Mad Moxxi DLC with the bank facility to store your spare weapons, but I certainly found that there are a very large selection of vending machines around each zone for you to clear your inventory. Needless to say I still didn't have the need to pick up anything worth less that $150k .. it's just isn't worth it (yeah, my mercenary is rich for sure).
As I mentioned earlier Scooter has a nice new vehicle for you to try out with guided missiles, something you'll be grateful of as you zip across canyons and make bridge jump while being hotly pursued by a robot politely stating 'Atlas Corp wishes you to not inconvenience yourself, and let us murder you quickly' .. nice! The vehicle itself is very robust, much more than the simple desert racer in the original game, and it won't be long before you see the reason why - the enemies. There's all sorts of traps on the roads from the usual barrels of chemicals, to enormous road mines, with a decent spattering of joy-riding highwayman. Even with the size of each zone you still find yourself working your way up a broken highway in your vehicle to get somewhere, which is simply another example how they've clearly maximised the use of space and brought the gameplay back to what made the original game so good.
As you'll know if you've followed any of the recent General Knoxx news the level cap has been raised from 50 to 61, and yes this DOES mean you get to spend more talent points to hone your already awesome toon. Generally speaking you can expect a level every hour or so depending on how fast you go through the DLC, with the appropriate experience and monetary rewards being as healthy as they are. What this essentially means is that you can create more diverse builds for your character(s) that make the best of your class' special abilities, something that frustrated some people at the beginning of the second play-through. This is great news, but you'll also soon discover that this is being done to help you survive the challenging enemies ahead so it's not all sugary jam donuts.
As I mentioned there's a whole host of new enemies to fight, some of which have very surprising abilities often with the more innocent-looking being the most deadly (so true in real life too, ahem). You're in for a treat here, the enemies come from the sky, from behind cover, they come from all sorts of places and often when you least expect it. This aspect of Borderlands is a return to form where you really feel challenged all the time .. in other words, it goes a long way to immersing you back to the original feel of the game again and not on the outskirts of it all as you might have felt in the first DLCs. There are some epic fights along the way, and thankfully you're eased in, all be it pretty rapidly.
Why did I mention blubber? Well .. some of the enemies are big, very big, and you can clearly tell they've taken some advice from a random buffoon on TV about dressing big to hide their plump physiques. It matters not though .. it just makes for a more impressive kill animation :P
Summing it up ..
So, to not put a finer point on it I can tell you that the General Knoxx DLC is a HUGE improvement over previous DLCs and a real return to form, and you can clearly tell that Gearbox/2k have listened to the feedback they got following the previous DLCs. There's lots to do, lots to see, lots to kill, lots to loot, and loads of fun to be had. The story is engaging as are the characters, and there's a pleasant return to the humour that enhanced the original game no end. All this combined with the graphical enhancements and combat mechanics make this DLC the most impressive content for Borderlands since the release of the game.
Now, for the cost of the DLC (just over £6, around $10, or 600 Microsoft points) you simply can't go wrong. There's around 10-12 hours of gameplay here, rather than the 2-3 hours in the previous DLCs, and that's an average. For what you get in the game it's a no brainer. It's available now on all platforms, and if you have the original game and need to choose one of the DLCs to get .. then this is the one for you, by miles.
A return to what made the original great .. a must have for Borderlands fans.
*More details about Borderlands DLCs and more games info and news on Game-Bank.info.
Last edited by jango; 02-26-2010 at 09:18 AM.
very nice review jango, as always i loved reading it. You never fail to give me a chuckle. thanks mate
Great review, and timely as I bet there are a lot of people who could use the info right about now.
Have you finished it yet and reached the lvl cap? I feel so far behind everyone...
How am I doing? Ambivalent. Look, thats the word I'm using, either I am ambivalent or I'm not. -see what I did there?
not sure how i missed this question bob, sry
Originally Posted by BobTD
yes, i finished it on my siren and soldier, and i think i was quite near the end with my hunter before moving on to another game
Following-on from this, I've been playing some Borderlands recently in preparation for the forthcoming release of Claptrap's New Robot Revolution DLC and thought I'd do a video showing how to defeat General Knoxx from The Secret Armory of General Knoxx Borderlands DLC. I still enjoy playing this DLC (so much more to do, lots of places to explore etc, oh and pwn loot ), so I thought I'd do a video on the fight itself and how to do it - OK, so he's not massively difficult (certainly not as hard as Crawmerax the Invincible), but this might help if anyone's struggling.
Borderlands - General Knoxx fight & tactics
Last edited by jango; 09-16-2010 at 01:24 PM.
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