Borderlands: Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot Review
The strain may be starting to show on the Borderlands team after delivering a game and two significant chunks of downloadable content in the space of a few months, as this second Borderlands DLC pack is littered with small issues that keep it from greatness.
Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot opens with a cool-looking video that introduces you to Moxxi in the same stylized manner that the main storyline and Zombie Island were introduced before it.
To summarize what's said, Moxxi's a bit of a nutter, and she gets off on watching arena combat, taking on the role of an over-excited announcer throughout the battles.
Instantly you'll know what this DLC is - arena combat! In the download you'll get a several new arena locations and a hub that links them all together. The arenas are well-built but are all made from assets already on the disc - you won't find the fresh, different scenery of Zombie Island here - it's back to the barren desert locales.
You'll enter the arena either alone or with your co-op partners and the game will unleash waves of enemies on you. Again, there are no new enemies, so you'll be facing creatures and enemies you've seen before in the main game.
Every couple of waves you'll be faced with a boss wave, which will literally spit out one of the single-player bosses from the main game at you, complete with their signature weapons.
The game switches things up a bit more by adding modifiers which have a direct effect on the action by lowering gravity, draining health, removing shields and so on. It all makes it rather difficult, which is nice, but the content feels thin as you battle your way through round-after-round in these relatively small new areas built from old building blocks. Compared to Zombie Island, this feels lazy.
Between waves you'll be given healing items and such, and while there is loot to grab for completing various bits of the arena, you actually get far less loot for your effort here than you do in the main campaign.
In fact, that's the theme of Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot - combat for the sake of combat. There's no experience earned in the arenas, and the loot drops are few and far between - and when they did drop, I found them lackluster.
The game does offer up two new skill points (but strangely not levels) for completing everything in the pack, but it feels like a ridiculous amount of effort for such a tiny and easily-added reward.
The welcome addition of an item bank which lets you off-load some of those guns that you don't use but want to hold onto just because is nice, but overall Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot feels like it misses the point of what made Borderlands so great in the first place - character progression.
The thing that drove me to complete Borderlands twice and made me love it so much was the constant 'ding' factor as I leveled up and found bigger, better weapons - and in the Underdome all those things are practically removed. It's combat for the sake of combat.
Technically it's not a bad piece of downloadable content - there are substantial new areas, a significant challenge and some funny new voice acting and animation for Moxxi herself - but something about it just isn't right.
It's an admirable swing - but still a swing and a miss, especially when compared to the brilliance of the base game.