x360a Review: Borderlands' Zombie Island of Dr. Ned
Written Wednesday, December 02, 2009 By Nate Gillick
The secrets of the Vault may have been unearthed, but not every corner of the planet Pandora has been explored just yet. With the Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, developer Gearbox has added a satisfying amount of new content to the game that showcases on a smaller scale everything that made the core game so much fun, and hints at future tweaks to the franchise's formula.
Tankenstein wants to tenderize your face.
Borderland's core game got blasted for having no story, and while this expansion's story isn't brilliant, it's a clear step up from what we've seen before. Like the main game, Zombie Island starts with a brief and humorous cut-scene that sets up the story. Dr. Ned, who totally isn't Dr. Zed from the main game, has been turning the residents of Jakobs Cove into zombies for fun and profit, and it'll be up to the Vault Hunters to slay the undead and restore order to the besieged city. The story doesn't develop much beyond that, but the amount of humor on offer has been ratcheted up several notches. Expect plenty more quirky claptrap comments, undead jokes, and shenanigans from the Jakobs Corporation; all of which make this expansion feel fresh and distinct from the core game. Hopefully the expanded use of humor and increased presence of voice acting hints at more long-term changes to how stories will be told in the Borderlands universe.
Accessible from the fast travel terminals at any point during the game, Jakobs Cove offers variety in both its geography and the enemies that inhabit it. Divided into several zones, the gloomy, swampy terrain provide a sharp contrast from the barren deserts that make up the majority of Pandora. Besides the Jakobs Cove area, players will traverse a graveyard, pumpkin patch, lumber mill, and more. As fun as these new areas can be to explore, the lack of any fast travel within the expansion can be inconvenient. Always loading up the game at the entrance of Jakobs Cove, and the inability to fast travel anywhere can lead to a little too much backtracking, which somewhat pads the overall length of the experience. It's also worth noting that while the vast majority of this expansion's geography is completely new, the city of "Dead Haven" is essentially Old Haven from the core game, with some walls added to change how players progress through the area. This recycling is disappointing, but doesn't overly detract from the overall experience, especially since a couple of this expansion's most exciting battles are located there.
L4D2 isn't the only game with hordes of zombies.
What game isn't better with zombies? Zombie Island offers plenty of variety in enemies, from your traditional slow-moving zombies to speedier, zombified versions of enemies like the midgets and psychos. There's also totally new enemies like suicide zombies, which will throw explosive barrels at players, to terrifying wereskags. Former humans injected with skag DNA, wereskags are both blazing fast and incredibly powerful, making gunning them down the highest priority. For an expansion of this size, the variety of new enemies on display here is truly impressive, and brings a lot of replayability to the Zombie Island of Dr. Ned.
Five new achievements for 125 total points come with Zombie Island, all of which are pretty straightforward to obtain. Four of them will come by playing through the DLC's main storyline, with the last one coming for completing a side-quest series which requires players to gather up a large number of those soft, delicious zombie brains. Enjoy the zombie-slaying ride, and the points will come naturally along the way.
With a little over a dozen quests on offer, a multitude of new enemy types, and distinct new areas to explore, The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned has everything players could ask for in a quality expansion. Bringing the core game's humor to new heights, the 6-8 hours of this expansion will be fondly remembered long after the last zombie is killed for good. Of course, with Borderlands' excellent co-op play, Zombie Island is an expansion that begs to be played more than once.