WR: Borderlands: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned DLC (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)

December 15th, 2009 by (Niels Witbraad)

Zombie island review pic

Developer: Gearbox Software
Publisher: 2K Games
Genre: FPS/Action RPG
Players: 1-2, 2-4 (online)
Console: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
Hours Played: 8
Progress: Completed all quests on 1st and 2nd play-through

Only a month-and-4-days after the release of Borderlands, the first offering of downloadable content becomes available, although seemingly soon after the game’s launch, people have been panting for more of Gearbox’s looter and shooter extravaganza. Considering how good the original game was, you really can’t go wrong with some extra content, right? Well… read on to find out.

The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned takes place on an island… filled with Zombies… end review. No, actually after spending 800 Microsoft Points to download the extra content you’ll be able to teleport to this remote destination by walking up to any teleport station, even if you haven’t unlocked the privilege of teleporting yet. You quickly find your way to a small outpost called Jakob’s Cove, which is run by the Jakob’s Corporation. Devoid of labourers, apart from a lone claptrap, the town is overrun by zombies and your only link to this eerie phenomenon is Doctor Zed’s “brother” Ned, and so your quest starts to find any survivors and liberate the island from this undead plague.

The player will be welcomed by surroundings different enough from the previous desert-type environment, although only moderately so. The island consists of  greenish rocks and paths along with swamp-like ponds and eerie locales like a graveyard and the desolate “Dead Haven”. Gearbox oddly enough gave the game a Halloween theme by dotting the landscape with pumpkins and the like, almost a month after the actual holiday and in the run-up to Christmas.

Graphically, the change in environment is welcome enough, as are the addition of cool new bosses, but the issues we found in the original Borderlands have not been fixed, as a matter of fact they’re worse. Slow-down is more apparent this time around as the screen is often populated with more enemies in the shape of hordes of zombies, a possibility that would’ve seemed obvious when considering the concept of throwing heaps of brain-hungry zombies at the gamer.

Gameplay-wise it’s the same gambit of shoot-this, collect-that missions found in the original game with the focus being getting rid of large groups of enemies before they engulf you and offering the potential for plenty of head shots (zombies are slow and pop brains when shot in the head). A Jakob’s Company vending machine offers new weapons, mostly wood-grain pistols, but disappointingly, this vending machine only becomes available after completing a specific mission and then promptly shuts down after this. Frustrations like getting stuck behind scenery and the map marker pointing towards the wrong location on the map sadly still exist and really should have been cleaned up with the release of the new DLC.

There’s lots to shoot, and who doesn’t like shooting zombies?  There is also a lot of loot to collect, but the experience wears a bit thin this time around as the island provides only limited freedom and a shallow assortment of objectives. The humor is still there, as is the intense shooter action, but this effort feels a bit half-hearted.  Existing issues haven’t been addressed and there is less variety and innovation this time around. Perhaps worst of all is how brief the experience is: 1.5 hours wraps up the main story and another 2.5 covers the remaining bounty board missions. Compounding the brevity of the experience is the easy difficulty.  While there are many, never will you feel overwhelmed by the number of zombies coming at you, for the most part they are slow and there will always be room to back up and take them out as they come at you. Thankfully, The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned only costs 800 Microsoft Points, which is good because it’s hard to justify a higher price for this limited experience, although considering the overall structure of Borderlands, many might feel it’s worth it none-the-less.

New Borderlands DLC is very welcome and although there is once again much to shoot and collect, none of which more enjoyable than decapitating zombies, the experience is short, easy and a tad repetitive. Previous graphical and gameplay glitches haven’t been addressed and although the cost is only 800 Microsoft Points, we recommend only true fans (or rich ones) invest in Borderlands’ first downloadable content package.