Borderlands : The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned – Reviewed

3 min read
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Finding its release roughly half-way between Halloween and Christmas, The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, Borderland’s first DLC is a Halloween-themed gift from Gearbox.

A self-contained episode, The Zombie Island of Dr Ned focuses on the over-saturated, clichéd gaming stalwart of the living dead. Zombies really are everywhere these days; it’s getting harder to turn on a game these days without your brains being on the menu. Just when i thought I’d had enough of them though, borderlands delivers with a refreshing, humourous take on the rotting, brain-eating menace.

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The DLC is presented as a bedtime story told by Marcus Kincaid – The bus driver and weapons vendor from the main game – to a young child. While the story itself is seemingly set after that of Borderlands, it’s possible to quick travel to Jakob’s Cavern, the episode’s setting, as long as you’re level ten or higher – with the game auto-balancing the creature’s levels to meet yours. that’s the theory anyway, because my experience was a little different.

When I first transported my level 22 hunter to Jakob’s Cavern, an oddly colourful world with a spooky, yet decidedly fun atmosphere, the creatures that spawned were a full ten levels higher than I was, making defeating them a nigh-impossible affair. I had to return to the game proper and grind for a few hours before returning to eradicate the zombie menace.

After returning to the narrative I met Doctor Ned – “who is totally not Doctor Zed from the last story at all” – who has accidentally unleashed a catastrophic zombie apocalypse. It is naturally your job to fix everything – and kill zombies, the likes of which include the standard, lumbering braindead-undead, Defilers who like Left 4 Dead’s Boomers gob on you, impairing your vision and slowing you down. On the other end of the zombie scale are larger beasts such as the Loot Goon – complete with a gun-chest strapped across its back -  and the very large, very scary the Badass Tankenstein.

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The quests themselves will be pretty familiar territory – your standard “go here, fetch this, open that” fare, but it’s not as if anyone plays Borderlands for distinctive quest types – it’s all about the loot, baby. I am not aware if there’s any distinctive loot in the DLC – but how could you tell anyway? The main quests could be ploughed through in under two hours, with further side quests extending total playtime to around 6 hours.

Where the DLC does excel though is in it’s narrative, which is punctuated by snappy dialogue and self-referential meta-comedy. The story is far more focused than that of the game proper, and I hope this sort of self-contained episode is demonstrative of the direction in which Borderlands DLC is headed.

The Zombie Island of Dr Ned comes highly recommended to anyone who – like me – just can’t get enough of Borderlands. The roughly 1Gb download is available now on PSN for R75.00 and Xbox Live for 800 MSP.

Score : 82½

Please note that this review is for the DLC only. For a review of the retail game, please click here.

Last Updated: November 30, 2009

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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