Borderlands: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned (XBox 360) Review
Posted by Adam Larck on 12.03.2009
How does fighting hordes of zombies feel in Borderlands? Find out inside.
Title: Borderlands: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Gearbox Software
Players: 1-2 (1-4 Online)
Rated: M for Mature
The first downloadable content for Borderlands, called The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, was released last week. The Halloween-style content was just in time for Thanksgiving.
Even though the timing of the content may be a bit off, what exactly does Zombie Island have to offer for Borderlands?
To start, there is a completely new area to explore called Jakobs Cove. The only way to access the Cove is by using the fast travel. The good thing for people starting a second or third playthrough is that, even if the fast travel system hasn’t been opened yet, players can still travel to Jakobs Cove and back.
As soon as you set foot on the Cove, a background video starts up. The video is actually pretty funny to watch, as it is trying to be explained to a kid. However, like previous cutscenes in the game, this one is unskippable as well.
To summarize the main plot of Zombie Island, Dr. Ned (really just Dr. Zed with a mustache and taped on name that they joke about throughout) has changed the workers at the Cove into zombies and has hired you to kill them. While going through, you’ll start learning more about the truth of the infestation and how it actually happened.
Throughout the content, I used my (then) level 41 Soldier. However, on playthrough 2, the minimum level zombie was 42, and the zombies often started destroying me when I would get swarmed. Due to this, I went back to playthrough 1 to explore the land and do quests. Even on playthrough 1 zombies started out at 35 and went up to 39.
This content was definitely meant for people who were a good portion of the way through the game, and not for people starting off.
Anyways, after getting to the Cove, a ClapTrap will give you your first quest. The few ClapTraps in Zombie Island is still just as interesting as in the full game, and actually says new stuff that relates to the content.
Another thing to note about the content they changed is that even during the loading screens the tips that pop up are related to the content. It’s a small touch that’s a nice change.
There are quite a few quests in the content, both main quests, quests you can pick up from the bounty board and a hidden quest to find. The hidden quest is actually five different quests given by Zombie TK where he wants brains to eat.
This brings me to my first problem with the content, the zombie brains. They’re easy enough to get. All you have to do is just critical headshot a zombie to get them to drop one. However, any brains you collect before the quest starts and additional brains you collect once you’ve completed a quest but haven’t turned it in do not carry over. I probably had 500-600 brains before starting the quests, but couldn’t use any of them in the quests, which was annoying.
As far as the zombies go, most are just generic fodder zombies. Some of them look new, while others are reskins of other enemies, like the psychos and midgets. There are some new types, though, like suicidal ones or Tankensteins. Also, there are new bosses to fight in the content that offer a decent challenge as well. There are three different types of enemies I want to talk about in particular, though: Corpse Eaters, Loot Goons and Wereskags.
The Corpse Eaters are a quicker version of the Rakks, and are also a bit harder to hit because of their smaller size. Loot Goons are actually the new enemy I like the most. They are one of the stronger types, but once you kill them they drop a gun chest that you can loot from his back. The final type, Wereskags, is just what they sound like: humans that have been bitten by skags and transformed. The main benefit they have is the ability to fully regain their health one time when it gets low. When they do this, they grow bigger as well and their claws glow red.
Zombie Island also has different areas to travel to as well, such as Generally Hospital, Hallow’s End and Dead Haven, among others. While most of these are completely new areas, even the old ones, such as Dead Haven, remind you of places you’ve been before but still look noticeably different, which is a nice change.
These new areas also bring about my biggest complaint with the content, the lack of travel options. There are no places to fast travel to in the content, and no places to even use vehicles at either. Throughout all of the areas, you’ll be hoofing it. While it doesn’t seem that bad, when you’re just trying to run through zombies to get to an area to complete a simple quest and run all the way back, it does get tiring quick. Vehicles would have made traveling in the main area a lot easier.
A problem that goes along with this is when you restart on the content. Instead of keeping you at the area you were in, you go back to the very beginning of the Cove. So, if you were at the other end of the map in a completely different area, you get to walk all the way back to get there. This seems like it should have been fixed to not allow that to happen.
While exploring the areas, you can also find ECHO transcripts that are sometimes a part of a quest and sometimes aren’t, that give more information about the zombie infestation. Probably the most interesting ones I saw were parodies of Scooby-Doo.
Another thing to add is that there is at least one ClapTrap to rescue found later in the content that gives a backpack upgrade when rescued. Also, there’s a new vending machine to use in the main area as well. The machine seems to have a bit rarer items than normal, but I couldn’t always access the machine. However, the items in there were often not better than what I had equipped anyway.
Overall, the content is fairly short. I beat it in about six hours. It would have taken me longer on playthrough 2 due to having to be more cautious going through, but wouldn’t have been that much longer. Still, it does add quite a bit to the game and is great to play with friends.
For fans of the game wanting an excuse to spend more time in Borderlands, the content is worth a buy. It adds a completely new area that lets you take on hordes of undead with any guns you like, which is always enjoyable. Even though the content offers no additional leveling options, this just gives more reason to go back to an enjoyable game with friends and have some fun.
The new area looks completely different from the original game. There’s quite a bit to see and explore. Plus, the various zombies are great to see as well, even if they do lose their individuality after a short time.
The gameplay was just as fun as the first time I played it. Even though you have to walk everywhere, I still had a lot of fun when playing with a group.
There’s not much music in the area, but the sound is still great. Being able to hear a lot of that commentary is more than worth it. 2K Games did a great job here, much like they did in the full game.
Even after beating all the main quests and bounty board quests, the “Brains!” quests will take you quite a bit to complete. Plus, being able to take on zombies with your friends will give you quite a bit of entertainment for a while.
Travel problems aside, Zombie Island is just as fun as the original content. The commentary was fun to hear, zombies were fun to kill and even the storyline was fun to watch unfold.