A standard video game used to mean that it would offer some gameplay or storyline mode, with the addition of at most a multiplayer option. These days, developers are relying on the extra content and extra modes of gameplay to increase their game’s shelf life. As gamers, our response has become to expect this as the standard, particularly for the big-name titles.
If you’re interested in the DLC available for Borderlands
, you’ve probably played through the story of the single player game. Maybe you’ve even picked up The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned
for the extra content. Now what? How about an entirely new gameplay mode of battling masses of enemies, round after round?
This isn’t anything you’re not familiar with. Plenty of shooters have incorporated this sort of gameplay mode to extend your playtime with the game (think Firefight, ODST). The intense rounds of battling with previously encountered enemies provide fresh blood, and no pretenses. This gameplay mode scraps the story and the RPG, and focuses on in-your-face combat.
Borderlands’ version of horde mode throws you into the fighting pit to await waves of enemies. Mad Moxxi hosts this showdown of gladiators versus bloodthirsty enemies, and she’ll set 5 waves of enemies per each of the 5 rounds of fighting per map. If you do the math, that’s 25 waves of enemies per map.
You begin with three maps in which to get your hands dirty. The enemies you face will reflect the map’s content, so the enemies and environment should be somewhat familiar. Each map has the appropriate amount of elevated platforms and barriers to hide behind, as well as the extensive spread of a spherical plot of land that you’re fighting on in which to scurry through when caught in a tight spot.
All 5 rounds are fairly similar: each wave represents a new challenge with new rules. Waves come in a particular order (Starter Wave, Gun Wave, Horde Wave, Badass Wave, Boss Wave), and dictate what sort of tactical advantages you’ll need to take. Mad Moxxi will make these announcements through witty commentary. She is brutishly upfront about her taste for murder, but somehow presents her fetish in a charming manner.
At times Mad Moxxi will give enemies bonus damage, or maybe she’ll strip you of your shields, and other times she will give you the advantage of low gravity. The rules are very diverse, and keep the gun toting fun going with new goals and challenges to heed to. The 5th, and last wave of each round will produce one of the bosses from the game.
I think the music featured throughout the waves is also worth commenting on. Although it is short almost toward feeling nonexistent, the pieces of music you are privy to are reminiscent of Justice tracks with their electronica feel.
Completion of each round will render half-decent loot at several levels beneath your own. Nothing really worth fighting over, but keep in mind that the stash is limited, so bring your more trusted friends along if you’re looking for new weaponry.Once you complete the three maps on the lower challenge mode, you’ll be introduced to an even more extensive firefight of 20 rounds, still at 5 waves per round, totaling 100 waves. Completing the lower and higher challenge sets gains you an extra skill point each; definitely more intriguing than what is usually useless – although definitely more frequent – gun drops.
The intense shoot-out battle is certainly fun. More over, you’re given an opportunity for solid multiplayer action as opposed to the somewhat lackluster co-op in campaign mode. Borderlands is a single-player game, but Mad Moxxi demands a lot from the player. Playing through 25 waves – which is the bare minimum, with the higher challenge setting at 100 waves – can be both draining as well as time consuming. You’ll need a few good teammates to watch your back, even if that means splitting the loot (it’s only half-decent, anyway).
Even with teammates, however, the rounds can be unbearably long. After trudging your way through half of the rounds in the higher challenge mode, you’ll be wishing Gearbox came up with a save or checkpoint option rather than the breaks you’re allowed to take between rounds.
On the other hand, Mad Moxxi also provides you with a bank in which to store your weapons. This is obviously to help give you room for the imminent spoils of battle, but I feel that it should have been a standard option within the game. Nonetheless, Mad Moxxi bank is better than no bank, especially with such limited bag space.
The Underdome provides the extensive combat and multiplayer options you might have been looking for, but I wouldn’t hold it against you if you didn’t have the nerve to fight through what can be hours of constant waves.