Borderlands, the hit Gearbox game that took the world by storm in October gets its first taste of DLC with Zombie Island of Dr. Ned. The game has a great DLC potential with its simple yet elegant way to travel between locations via the many Fast-Travel stations, which ensure that the people and places you venture to and run in to can be as out-of-control and crazy as possible, and oh-so-different from the Pandora you know and love. And with The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, that’s just what Gearbox has done. But even with its unlimited potential, does Borderlands DLC work its magic into our hearts, or will we be left with burned out pockets and not a lot to show for it? Read on to find out.
The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned will have your hero and any companions you care to take with you into the unknown on an adventure like none other seen on Pandora. As soon as you take your very first steps from the Fast Travel station onto the dark and gloomy island of Jakobs Cove, you will know something’s not right. Everyone gone and the surroundings are scattered and destroyed worse than a Haymaker concert. There are pools of blood at every corner, and before you know it, you will be getting a face full of zombie brains as the dead start to raise and leave you scared and running for your life. This is where the real adventure begins and you must solve the mysteries of this mysterious island before it’s too late, for the citizens of Jakobs Cove and yourself. But worry not! The famous Dr. Ned is here to help a hand against his so-not-made-up brother Dr. Ned! Strap in and enjoy the ride.
These days zombies are all the rage. Countless games and taking part of the zombie fiasco, from Dead Rising (1 & soon, 2), to the unique and ingenious Left 4 Dead (1 & 2), not to mention LIVE arcade games like Zombie Apocalypse, and heck, even a serious WWII shooter seems to have fallen under these devastating creatures spell, with Call of Duty: World at War. And while certainly not a serious take on the living dead, the Borderlands DLC sure does stand out from the crowd. It manages this with its trademark dark humour and unique graphical styling combined with the near-unlimited amount of loot and weapons to dispatch the zombie horde. But even standing out from the crowd can’t keep it up on its own. The game needs substance to sustain itself, and put bluntly, that’s just what its lacking. The missions are the same as most of the missions from the actual game, which take the form of collecting a few things, or killing a few enemies. Another given is the humour within these missions, which although funny as always, feels forced and shows signs of obvious neglect.
Speaking of killing enemies, apart from the Corpse Eaters, which are smaller, more annoying versions of the Rakk, a brilliant boss, and werewolf like creatures aptly named wereskags, the only enemies you will be facing off against are, surprise, surprise; zombies! There are zombies everywhere, no matter where you go. And there’s no stop to them. They just keep on coming, and while its a great way to get some experience, and is mighty fun for a little while, get extremely tiresome and you will end up just running from objective to objective ignoring the usually slow zombies. To make things a little more inviting, most of the zombies take the form of the more common enemies from the actual game, for example, Zombie Psycho and Zombie Midget are but two names you will be seeing a lot of, along with some more unique enemies like the Suicide Zombie.
Borderlands Concept Art Style graphics, which a few years ago was dubbed ‘cell-shading’, is still the most interesting point in the game, and the DLCs zombies look great rendered in it. The blood covered clothing and mutilated puss faces of these enemies look more ‘Borderlands’ than ever and are in fact some of the best looking zombies we’ve ever seen in a video game. The atmosphere for the entire island, from Dead Haven to the swampy mash is a great improvement on the environments and atmosphere from the actual game, and the thought that went into this really should have went into the real game, which would have made the whole so much better. It genuinely feels like a whole zombie-based game, at least for the little time it lasts.
To keep the aforementioned atmosphere up, The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned has some lovely horror themed scores to kill your zombie counterparts to, and apart from that and the obvious grunts and groans of these horrific creatures, there isn’t much out of the ordinary from the game itself.
Most DLC expansions are a fun way to increase the playtime and enjoyability of any big title, and while this is still true for Borderlands The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, you really must have a particular taste for the main selling point to get your enjoyment out of it; zombies. That’s right; it’s unlikely that any non zombie-fanatic will get much fun out of this little slice of hell (that’s a compliment in this case). For a rather steep 800 Microsoft Points, The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned will please any zombie fan and apart from that particular crowd, anyone who loved Borderlands so much they are looking for any excuse to get back into the action.
As far as DLC goes, The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned is a great way to take the basis of the original game and make it something much more unique. But despite this new look and feel, the expansion is very much a lacklustre made for a very niche’ gamer market; hardcore zombie fans. With only a few hours playtime and not much replay value, coupled with a boring number of enemies and a few all-too-familiar missions, The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned is a fun-at-first but all round dull experience not worth its price tag. We hoped for a lot with its announcement, but such high standards pretty much ensured our inevitable dissatisfaction. Thanks for the kind gesture anyway Gearbox.
AAG SCORE: 6/10
Great Atmosphere and environment
Zombies look great
Lots of Zombies
Far too short
Dull missions and enemies
Steep price tag for product.
Reviewed & Written By John Elliott