Review: Borderlands: Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution (DLC)


Title: Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution
Format: PlayStation Network Download
Release Date: September 28, 2010
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Gearbox Software
Price: $9.99

Just when you think you can trust your spunky, little robot quest-giving compadres they go and try to overthrow all biological life on Pandora. Claptrap’s New Robot Revolution is the fourth, and final, Borderlands DLC pack, following on the heels of The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot and The Secret Armory of General Knoxx. Released nearly a year after the original game Robot Revolution doesn’t bring many new things to the table, but is the funniest Borderlands experience yet.

The story is simple enough. Claptraps are tired of being the low men on the galactic totem pole and behind an upstart leader, named Interplanetary Ninja Assassin Claptrap (INAC), begin to systematically take over the biological life on Pandora. The Hyperion Corporation, though trying to ultimately rid the planet of treasure hunters like yourself, calls you in to put down the growing robot unrest.

Borderlands has always walked a tightrope when it comes to story, providing just enough motivation to keep you progressing, while keeping the pacing quick so that you never spend too long outside a firefight. The result is that major, quest giving characters feel hollow and difficult to connect with and the story is shoved to the background in favor of blowing the nearest enemy’s face off. Unfortunately, this trend continues with Robot Revolution. The major story arc outlined above sounds exciting and exhilarating, but only boils down to four quests.

The four-part main story has you take down the claptraps supporting infrastructure and eventually their leader INAC. Along the way you bump into a few familiar faces from past DLC packs and sojourn on a handful of side quests. These side quests are especially tedious as one four-part quest arc has you simply collecting debris from destroyed claptraps. This does nothing to enhance the enjoyment of the game, it only insures that you will be jamming on the square button throughout most firefights and accidently picking up weapons you don’t want or need.

However, the structure of the quests themselves has never been the heart of Borderlands. What really drives players is the personality of the world and perfectly paced leveling system that constantly doles out skill points or new weapons. Robot Revolution has even more personality than the original Borderlands, primarily due to the claptraps that never shut up even when trying to rip your throat out. While outfitted with melee weapons, shotguns and SMGs the claptraps most deadly weapon is its vocabulary. You can’t blow one of these little metal buggers to kingdom come without hearing a quote dripping with pop culture panache. The 360 console failures, your favorite bending unit, a rust bucket from Oz and even Nicholson’s turn as the Joker are all subtly referenced in the claptraps’ banter. These little touches go along way to humanize the claptraps, making them much more relatable than even the other human characters. Ultimately, it’s the claptraps, not their revolution, that save this DLC pack from being simply more stuff to kill.

The leveling system remains unchanged in this DLC, though you will come across one quest that gives you a free skill point. Borderlands continues to have nearly perfect pacing. Every quest from the most trivial to the most insanely difficult still rewards players with gobs of experience points and increasingly cool weapons. Nothing says lovin’ like watching a bandit dissolve from a corrosive shotgun blast to the torso.

I loved the original Borderlands and more of it turns out to be a good, but not great, thing. While the story remains simple the personality of your enemies will win you over, couple that with the “gotta finish one more quest” mentality that Borderlands delivers and you will enjoy your time with Robot Revolution.

One of Borderlands’ strengths is its visual style. The comic inspired graphics really separate it from the first person shooter pack. This playfulness is infused into even the opening cinematic, which is told as a puppet show with a grandfather narrating to his grandchild the story of Hyperion, INAC and the robotically induced bloodbath. Of course the narration devolves into insults being tossed between the two and you are reminded that while the combat is deadly serious the rest of the game is not.

Tartarus Station, the setting for the rise and ultimate fall of the revolution, is an abandoned train station and small town serving as a hub for Hyperion activity. The environments in Robot Revolution differ very little from what you saw in Borderlands. It still captures the dusty, wind blown aesthetic of the original. Skaggs, bandits and rokks your favorite trifecta of hostile animal life is back and mean as ever. Though they now they have been assimilated by the claptraps and sport new robot brains, these tiny visual cues add further personality to your foes.

While Robot Revolution adds few visual nuances to the game’s look, the strength of the original art design of Borderlands shines through. Watching a skagg crumple to your feet after a hail of machine fire still looks as good as you remember.

The audio, especially the dialogue, is the MVP here. As discussed above the claptraps, and ultimately Robot Revolution as a whole, would be a lot less interesting without all their mouthing off. The dialogue from the quest giving NPCs provides a hint of personality, but without more of a story it seems like wasted effort. My advice, just speed through the quest dialogue so you can go shoot some more claptraps and have them crack you up.

The background music is indistinguishable from the original soundtrack. If there was any new music in Robot Revolution I could not tell. Gunfire, creature howls and the other sound effects are also from the original and still sound great.

Come for the skill points and stay for the dialogue. If you want to laugh while you empty your clip be sure to crank up the volume.

Online multiplayer is still a hell of a lot of fun in Robot Revolution. As with the original Borderlands, make sure you are partied with someone of a similar level or else one of you will be dealing one point of damage per shot while they have to take down everything. Of course, if you are trying to power level a new character with some high level buddies go nuts.

Looking back at Robot Revolution I have to ask myself a few questions. Is the story great? No. Does it bring a lot of new elements to the table? Not really. Is it a lot of fun? Hell yeah.

As with most DLC, Robot Revolution serves to expand your experience and give you one more reason to slide the game back in your system. If you liked Borderlands and love robots spewing pop culture references as much as I do, then drop a ten spot to extend your vacation on Pandora. Viva la robo-lucion!


Written by Justin Spielmann

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