Borderlands expands its world with its second offering of downloadable content. In Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot you will be able to test your skills against an onslaught of Pandora’s biggest, and baddest.
Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot is a new concept for Borderlands, one that steps into the addictive territory of arena battling, similar to ‘Firefight’ in ‘Halo: ODST’ (review), or ‘Horde’ mode in ‘Gears of War 2’ (review). This format worked in Halo, and Gears, and now it works in Borderlands, making it even more addictive than before. Besides a rejuvenation to the standard gameplay, 'Mad Moxxi' gives the Borderlands masses a bigger challenge than Pandora could provide. Now you have a new excuse to try all of your hard earned uber-weapons from your journey across the wasteland in this fast paced dual to the death.
Only the Hardcore Should Apply
Installing 'Mad Moxxi' is easily done by downloading the content from Xbox Live, or the PSN. From there you simply select ‘The Underdome’ from any teleport stations in the game, and you will find yourself teleported to this new piece of content. The new content is unlocked without prejudice to your level, or class, although I would advise on waiting until your above level 12 to head into the Underdome.
Compared to the last piece of downloadable content produced for Borderlands 'The Zombie Island of Dr.Ned’ (review), The Underdome is more of an add-on mode, and not a new mission, or territory to explore. This makes Mad Moxxi more of niche purchase, focusing on the more hardcore audience, rather than the average player, or the Borderlands newbie. Mad Moxxi feels like it was created to please the crowd who wanted a more challenging scenario, and more activities enjoy with their friends. In this regard 'Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot' excels, and you will find a worthy advisory in Moxxi's playground.
Into the Underdome
The Underdome itself acts as a central HUB with an atmosphere that is reminiscent of 'Bioshock', if Jim Rose was decorating. Call me crazy, but The Underdome could have been easily an outtake from Rapture. This is not a bad detail, since Borderlands rocky wasteland needed some spicing up. The options in the Underdome are self-explanatory with the addition of a new feature called ‘The Bank’.
The Bank is exactly what you think it is a place to store you goods. The bank can be also being expanded via the vendor machines, and the top-hat Claptrap will happily store and retrieve your items. This is perfect for dumping all loot into to examine it at a later time. I don’t think it will work too well as a locker concept for the main mission, because you would have to travel back to this realm every time you wanted to switch an item out. For the bank to really feel useful it needed to be spread all across Pandora, like the rest of the vending machines.
The Host with the Most
This circus-sideshow vibe carries on with the Underdome's host, Mad Moxxi. Moxxi is a face-painted, voluptuous vixen who has a sweet tooth for pain. (Harley Quinn inspired?) Not much information is given on Moxxi aside from her troubles with relationships, but really what else do you need for an arena battle? Even without an extensive background check, you will probably enjoy the vibe she gives out. Moxxi's interaction with the player is kept to a minimum which is a shame, so the compensation of her worlds will have to be enough satisfaction.
Let the Challenge Begin
In the Underdome you can enter three arenas of challenge (Hell-Burbia, The Angelic Ruins, and The Gully). Each level is a different take on locations from Pandora, with plenty of high and low grounds to make the deathmatches interesting. Sadly, Moxxi doesn't introduce any new enemies. However, you will have the pleasure of battling all the boss characters from the main quest along with all the little minions that occupy the land.
Each arena has five rounds within five rounds with the boss battles at the end of each round. The first round/wave is the 'Starter Wave' which is filled with bandits and skags. The second is the 'Gun Wave', enemies have guns. The third wave is the 'Horde Wave' which is mainly filled with charging Psychos. The fourth is the 'Badass Wave' featuring the big bruisers, and the fifth wave is the 'Boss Fight' which brings back a boss from Pandora for another harmful round of death. Each arena has five waves within five rounds with the enemies ramping up in difficulty. To help you survive each round you will simple health and ammo fall from the sky after each round, but its only for a few seconds, as they over-sized items will fade into the ground. Defeating each wave will pleases Moxxi, and bring you one step closer to completing the Underdome challenge.
What gives 'The Underdome' a little more spice, besides Mad Moxxi and her 'bouncy' personality, are mutators. The mutators act as special modifications to the gameplay that are activated in the later rounds. The more you progress, the more are piled on, and harder it gets. The beauty of the whole system is that it is random, so every game will play out differently. This is when Borderlands gets real interesting, and becomes more challenging than the standard campaign.
Modifiers can change any aspect of the game from gun related ones like making headshots do more damage than normal shots, or lessening the power of every other weapon except a particular type (example: SMG has bonus damage, and the others do less). These are the best ones you can hope for because some of the others benefit only the enemies, like, having the enemies spawn with higher caliber weapons, making their movement speed double, increasing their shields power, and more. This is when the enemies have a clear advantage, and not only with numbers, when you are up against super-powered modifiers, is it time to do some moving and shaking. I would be going on forever if I went through all of them, and hey, not knowing is half the surprise.
No Rewards for You
Experience, and loot is also handled differently in this DLC. Enemies will no longer give experience points when killed, or drop loot. The only looting comes when you kill the boss in the fifth wave that releases a few items underneath Moxxi’s podium. From my experience the majority of the weapons are on par, or a little better than what you are carrying. However, it doesn’t seem as rewarding as the normal, gun and loot gameplay Borderlands was built on. The obviously reason why Geaerbox might have disabled this is to detour gamers from jumping in and out just for the purposes of leveling up, but really isn’t that what Borderlands is all about? If anything, this fact is one reason not to purchase the new DLC.
Achievement Points, and Trophies is one type of loot that you can expect to collect... the loot of more prestigious points attached to your gamer profile! The achievements in Moxxi are based on overall performance on completing levels, and not some silly little objectives like kill 20 enemies in a five seconds, although that would have been cool. This means Trophy hunters will want to search out Moxxi to snag up the extra points. However, keep in mind the journey might not be easy as you would think because The Undrdome can become rather difficult at times, even for the experts.
Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot is a worthwhile addition to Borderlands that will give you more reasons to keep your disc spinning. The action is fast, and the tournament style really takes to the creative gunplay in Borderlands. It's something you can really sink your teeth into with friends, best experienced in co-op. Those are the positives, and for the negatives, well, they match up equally as strong.
Mad Moxxi does nothing to address the currently issue of raising the level cap. Furthermore, you really don't gain all that much fighting through Moxxi's challenge as you fail to earn experience for killing enemies, or the satisfaction of looting dead bodies. Loot is only dropped after defeating the boss in the last round, and even then, it is not much. It would have been nice go receive a little XP boost when you consider the numbers you have to go through to make it through five rounds of ONE challenge.
All being said, Mad Moxxi's Underdrome Riot is still a entertaining diversion that breathes some extra life into Borderlands. The horde idea is perfectly matched to Borderlands gameplay, which should please all those looking for a little more challenge in their post-apocalyptic world.
If Gearbox keeps pushing out more DLC, let us hope they can broaden the foundation with more fan requests, like a boosting the level cap, or adding some new vehicles. If not, I would love all this extra effort being diverted to making downloadable content put into creating the most ass-kicking sequel ever made. Oh, and let's hope this not the last time we see the delightfully deadly, Mad Moxxi.
Final Score: 7.0
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 01.04.09
- Horde style matches are perfect for Borderlands
- Interesting mutators
- Arena battles provide a strong challenge
- The Bank, now you can store your loot!
- Perfect add-on for co-op gaming
- For obvious reasons, we love Moxxi, the character
- Can not continue from where you left off in a battle
- Don’t gain experience points in the Underdome
- Enemies don’t drop weapons, or loot
- Playing all five rounds is time consuming in one sitting
- Level cap has not been addressed
- No storyline
More Borderlands DLC: Claptrap Revolution (6.8) | The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned (8.0) | General Knoxx (8.5)