Dr. Ned's Island highlights Borderlands' strengths
Zombies seem almost too easy by now, don't they? Between Dead Rising, Left 4 Dead, Call of Duty, Red Dead Redemption and Borderlands, lots of quality games look to the undead for enemy fodder. However, there was no doubt in my mind that Borderlands would make good use of the concept. Not only does Gearbox possess the ability to make genuinely funny games, something that comes in handy when dealing with such a ridiculous subject, I also reckoned the slow, lumbering manner that is inherent to the living dead would work well with the strafing nature of the gunplay that's featured in the game.
And it turned out I was right. In order to play through Dr. Ned's island, you need to travel to Jacob's Cove and meet up with the Claptrap there. With some quips, he informs you that the place has been hit by a flu that has zombified approximately 97 percent of the population. Since you've become a known quantity on Pandora through your vault-hunting antics, the Jacobs Corporation requests you to take care of the problem with lots of bullets. From there, the story is characteristically thin, choosing to get out of the way of the action much like it does in the full game. You simply go in, take on a number of quests and shoot a lot of zombies. There are a couple of jokes, the biggest one probably being Dr. Ned himself, who starts out by stating that he is most certainly not Dr. Zed from the full game. He furthers this point by wearing a fake handlebar moustache.
The zombies come in a couple of different flavours. You've got your regular green stupidi, spitting ones called defilers and suicidal zombies (if they hadn't already been sort of dead) who attempt to take you with them, amongst others. As usual, strafing backwards and sideways while shooting tends to deal with them quite well, especially if you have a fire effect on your gun. Acid shotguns and such, however, don't have any effect at all on these guys. The locations are larger than I was expecting, but the developer managed to avoid making them too big. That's a good thing, because there are no fast-travel station anywhere in this DLC; you will always end up at the very first location atop a hill overlooking the island, which works.
This first downloadable add-on looks pretty nice too. The original Borderlands seemed to take place in nothing but desert and cold steel buildings, but Jacob's Cove used to be a lush little place. The Halloween effect that the Jack-o'-lanterns and the ominous skies invoke impose a great deal of atmosphere that I very much enjoyed taking in. One location, the Lance barracks, has been slightly re-skinned and reused, which is unfortunate. All things considered, though, it's probably my favourite Borderlands locale yet.
Borderlands is a great game that you should play. On top of that, if you're like me and would like even more of that game than the original, 40 to 50-hour adventure can offer, Dr. Ned's Zombie Island is most definitely a worthy purchase, most notably for the humour and atmosphere, but also because everybody likes shooting zombies and popping out their brains. You like that, right? I thought so.