Borderlands: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned

Borderlands: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned
Borderlands: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned Cover
Platforms Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows
Recommended? No
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If there’s a formula that has worked the last couple of years for video games, it is that zombies makes things more fun. Call of Duty: World at War was wildly successful with Nazi Zombie mode, and the Left 4 Dead series is one of the most popular online games played today. In the near future, Dead Rising 2 will be released and Crackdown 2 will feature zombies roaming around the city during the night. Just about the only series moving away from zombies is Resident Evil, with both 4 and 5 featuring a lack of undead we know and love.

So it probably came of little surprise when Gearbox announced the first piece of downloadable content for Borderlands would be about zombies. The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned to be exact. The name itself is intriguing to veterans of the game, as Dr. Zed was a friendly NPC that helped you on your quest for the Vault, raising the question: who is Dr. Ned compared to Dr. Zed?

The answers lie within this multi-hour extra, along with many, many zombies to blow away. This DLC is available via download or by buying the Double Game Add-on Pack disc which contains Zombie Island and Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot, which I’ll be playing next. The disc is useful for a number of reasons, while the initial price is the same as if you bought the add-ons online, you can pass the disc on to friends or even resell it. The only catch is if your hard drive gets wiped or you uninstall the content, you’ll have to install the DLC from the disc again.

What I liked: Well, if you’re looking for more of the same Borderlands, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth in terms of time investment. The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned took me at least six hours to finish all the content and nab all the achievements. There is a lot of ground to cover and it is all very atmospheric, plus the 25 quests will keep you busy and force you to trek around.

It wouldn’t be Borderlands without the black humor, and Zombie Island is full of it. From the zombies wearing beer drinking helmets to the hilarious commentary piped through the levels’ intercoms, there is little to be afraid of in what should feel like hell. Zombie outbreaks can be funny!

New enemies abound too, and while most of them are just your typical staggering sapien, we also get midgit zombies, suicide zombies, and giant loot-carrying zombies. Not to mention the wereskags which is a bizarre combination of werewolves and Borderland’s native skag.

What I didn’t like: Zombie Island of Dr. Ned has a few problems that really hampered my experience, the main one being I didn’t really know what I was playing for except to finish it. I played the DLC after I beat playthrough 2, so I was sitting pretty at level 50. All the bad guys then were right at my level too, which is good for a challenge, the problem was I didn’t have any real goals. I couldn’t gain any more experience since I was at max level and from trading with friends, I was comfortable with my arsenal guns. If I didn’t need experience or weapons, all that was left was to have fun.

And even having fun was difficult with wave after wave of zombie around every corner. Most higher level encounters in Borderlands challenged you many different ways and you really had to use your entire skillset to survive. On Zombie Island though, it was just a frantic fight to stay alive against the horde. There wasn’t any real strategy to each encounter except to aim for the head, I was getting seriously bored as it dragged on.

It didn’t help that one of the achievements available in the DLC called for you to finish a brain collecting quest line. There were five levels of brains to collect: 10, 25, 50, 100, and 250, and the only way to collect a brain was to kill a zombie with a headshot. So you have to collect over 400 of these guys across five quests, and whenever you finished a set you had to run all the way across a very populated map to turn it in, dragging everything on even longer. Of course, you could complete them while you worked on the other quests, but you’d still have to return to turn it in and start the next one.

Yes, I know that this was basically just for an achievement, and while I don’t consider myself an achievement whore, I basically have Borderlands 100%’ed and I’m not going to leave one achievement unfinished, annoying as it was. So the Braaaaains quests just linger in the back of your mind the whole time, perhaps even forcing you to fight differently than you would have.

Circling back to my first point that there was nothing to play for, this hinges on the fact that there is simply no appropriate time to play this DLC in the game. Play it at level 50 and you won’t gain any experience. Play it before level 50 and you’ll gain levels during your undead adventure and unbalance the main game. Play the third DLC first (which raises the level cap to 61) and Zombie Island will be way too simple. My suggestion for Borderlands 2 is to make every encounter in the game scale to your level so that you could tangent off and gain a few levels playing some DLC and return to the main game and not be overpowered.

Not Recommended

Basically, it all comes to the point where you’re just going on for the sake of going on, Zombie Island of Dr. Ned just isn’t that much fun. It turns Borderlands into the mindless shooter it always struggled to avoid becoming.

Borderlands Zombie Island of dr ned