Time played: 4 hours
I was in for a surprise as I set out for The Secret Armory of General Knoxx with a level 50 character, because as beefy as I thought my Siren was, she couldn't stand up to what was waiting for me at T-Bone Junction and beyond. Basically, I died. All of the time. I went from having around four million dollars in my bank account down to under a million before I even gained my first level in the DLC -- the hefty cost of respawning in the wilds of Pandora. And that's what made this whole thing so odd.
The expansion -- which is intended to give you some more mileage out of your maxed-out characters by raising the level cap to 61 -- continues from the end of the Borderlands story, so playing it before finishing the game proper is not advised. I finished my second playthrough with a level 50 character, so to start this add-on and run into such a wall, such constantly merciless opposition, was pretty perplexing.
So, my initial progress boiled down to baby steps, encountering a group of enemies, taking out one at a time, and running away when the pack advanced so I could regain my shields. I was forced to rinse and repeat until I was able to get my new ride (the Monster) and hit the wastes.
The Secret Armory of General Knoxx has lots of ground to explore. The highways rest high above the desert, but once I found an off-ramp, I was cruising through bandit hideouts and battling enemy armored vehicles littered across the sandy floor below in no time. It was then that the DLC really started to click for me and I found myself gaining a foothold, able to dispatch enemies without having to worry about dying every five minutes -- mostly thanks to my transport's supply of boost and heat-seeking missiles.
Eventually, though, I had to exit my new vehicle and proceed to an area on foot, as most Borderlands missions dictate. In one of my first tasks (disabling some roadblocks), I had to fight clusters of Lance troops who were a potent threat for what I assumed to be a pretty perfect Siren build. As the Lance troops tossed down turrets and shocked my shields away with lightning attacks, I felt as frustrated as I was at the outset, and the squad of fast, female ninja assassin types attacking me didn't help matters at all. To put it bluntly, it was a pain in the ass.
Maybe if I started the General Knoxx campaign at around 55, I wouldn't have had such a tough time, but I've completed the main game twice with this character, so I just don't understand why the difficulty is so high starting out. My advice? If you're planning on taking the trip down to T-Bone Junction, make sure you enlist a full group or kill a couple hundred Skags before you head out.
Editors' note: This review is based on Xbox 360 code provided by Gearbox Software.