Borderlands: The Secret Armory of General Knoxx • Page 2

Hard Knoxx.

It's not just a narrative experience, however. If you're after the stats - and, since this is Borderlands, that would be totally appropriate - The Secret Armory clocks in with over 40 new missions, three new vehicles, a bumped-up level cap of 61, a new class of rare weapons, and a brace of new enemies and maps.

The new maps are amongst the best so far. Focused on T-Bone Junction, a figure-eight of tarmac with a surprisingly bustling hamlet threaded into it, ribbons of highway are flung out to both the left and right. They're covered with Crimson Lance checkpoints and lead to nice roomy scatterings of desert, perfect for exploring - and even more perfect for accidentally blowing yourself up on rusting depth charges (this landscape was once underwater, after all).

Highways, being pretty linear affairs by design, mean that there's a fair amount of tooling along in a straight line. But even these sections turn out to have plenty of secrets of their own to discover, and while there's a lot of backtracking involved, there are enough side-quests to fill in while you're going from A to B.

They're the ideal spaces to try out the new vehicles, too. Ranging from the flimsy to the brutally heavy, the three new rides add a much-needed element of variety to the game's barren garage. At the high end is the Lancer, a kind of depraved Hummer with a grinning grill stuck on the front - a fearsome, if lumbering, beast that can likely withstand a direct hit from a nuke. Then there's the Monster, a rugged mid-ranger blessed by a fantastic homing missile launcher and enough flame decals and white-trash piping to make it the kind of thing Evel Knievel would probably have piled the kids in for holidays.

Finally, there's the Racer, its exhilarating boost balanced by the fact that it explodes in an awkward flash of boiling metal and bouncing tyres if you so much as sneeze while cornering. You can fling it off the end of a ramp and watch it tumble through the sky for the best part of a minute, though, even if you don't really want to be inside when it lands again.

Assassins race around in short epileptic bursts: it's both unnerving and kind of funny.

Granted, all the vehicles have to contend with Gearbox's bizarre physics modelling - in short, the game can never decide whether you're skidding over the surface of the moon in a bouncy lunar rover or trying to cross a large expanse of gravel on a SMEG refrigerator tricked out with skateboard wheels - but there's been a nice attempt to make each car handle a little differently.

If the vehicles are merely OK, some of the new enemies are genuinely fantastic. Those Assassins pop up every so often to keep you on your toes, flipping in and out of shotgun range and leaving attractive crimson slashes across your vision, while the other Lance corps have been boosted by everything from racketeers, hovering overhead and letting loose with missiles, to the Devastator, a gigantic mech that can take a frightening amount of damage while it shreds your health bar in seconds.

Warping into confined spaces, Devastators are a terrifying presence. They still pail beside the towering Drifters, however. Five-storey daddy-long-legs with glowing slopes of brain and a hideous spindly gait, this latest addition to the Pandoran ecology reminds you that the very best enemy design lies outside the realms of mere artistic appreciation because it freaks you out too much to actually look at it. They're fantastically horrible to contemplate, and whenever I heard one pulling itself out of the sand just around the next corner, I found myself wishing I was very far away. Possibly holding a frappucino.

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About the author

Christian Donlan

Christian Donlan

Features Editor

Christian Donlan is a features editor for Eurogamer. He is the author of The Unmapped Mind, published as The Inward Empire in the US.


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