Version tested: Xbox 360
It's fair to say that Borderlands caught a lot of us off guard. From curiosity to cult hit, it was one of those rare games that comes out of nowhere and establishes an exciting new franchise without being pushed along by a freight train of industrial-strength hype. It succeeded on its merits, a wickedly funny blend of post-apocalyptic shooter and loot-drop RPG, and was all the better for it.
The warm feelings continued when it became one of the best-supported shooters for DLC. A steady stream of new content, each episode with its own flavour and style, kept fans busy on multiple play-throughs, always looking for that next random weapon combination that would kick those all-important stats up a few notches.
Borderlands has thrived because it has made a habit out of surprising us. Perhaps that's why Claptrap's New Robot Revolution feels like a let down. This is the first DLC chapter that has felt like it's treading water, going through the motions, making do.
The story finds the Hyperion Corporation growing tired of the treasure hunters running rampant on Pandora. They've served their purpose and are now hampering the company's commercial ambitions. To deal with the problem, they introduce the Interplanetary Ninja Assassin, a stealthy CL4P-TP robot designed to wipe out the bandits and rogues.
Unfortunately, this uber-Claptrap gets distracted by the rotten working conditions of its hapless robotic comrades, reduced to slapstick punchlines in a cruel comedy. Instead of doing Hyperion's bidding, the Ninja robot foments a revolution, inspires his fellow Claptraps to take up arms and even assimilates human and animal foes into its cybernetic scheme. Enter you, plus up to three friends, to put things right by following waypoints and blasting away at everything.
New Robot Revolution has some fun with its concept, at least to begin with. The robot guerilla leader bombards you with squeaky-voiced rhetoric over conveniently placed loudspeakers as you arrive at Tartarus Station to begin your mission, and it's hard not to smile at the fun being had at the expense of more portentous games like BioShock.
The humour continues with the newly radicalised Claptraps, shifted from amiable servants to furious killers. Some, wearing combat helmets, blast at you with shotguns. Others, sporting Mohawks and boxing gloves, speed up close and batter you with windmill punches. Kamikaze robots chase you, detonating if you let them get too close. When defeated they utter enjoyable quips about 404 errors and seeing three flashing red lights of death. All are easily dispatched but, like the zombies on Dr. Ned's island, it's the sheer force of numbers that provides what little real threat they pose.
That's sadly it as far as innovation goes, however. It soon becomes clear that the Claptrap revolution is more an excuse to reuse and remix existing assets than to provide anything fresh. You're facing the same enemies from the rest of the game, just with Claptrap parts welded and stitched on. This doesn't change their tactics or talents, and unless you plan on getting up close for some melee damage you won't really see the difference.