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Borderlands: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned Micro-Review: Brains Optional

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Borderlands expands Pandora's borders with the downloadable Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, a new landmass that's infected with all manner of spook, from reanimated corpses to half-man, half-skag abominations. Yup, Borderlands got itself some zombie killin' too!

The draw in The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned are new locations in which to adventure, loot and shoot, plus new enemy types of the zombie variety at which to shoot. The downloadable expansion brings with it a new suite of missions and a new, self-contained story about Dr. Ned and his beastly creations. And did we mention zombies?


Does the Zombie Island of Dr. Ned expand the Borderlands experience enough to warrant a download? Or is this new content just death warmed over?

Loot Goons, Wereskags & Tankensteins: While much of the Zombie Island of Dr. Ned is teeming with slightly more rotting versions of the psychos and midget psychos Borderlands players are no doubt familiar with, the new area is home to many a unique species. Some of these, like the vomit-spewing Defiler and charging Tankenstein, while unapologetic in their unoriginality, will require new tactics to combat and present a noticeable challenge for higher level characters. Others, like the dexterous Wereskag, explosive Suicide Zombie and lootable Loot Goon just add welcome variety to the mix of new things to shoot. The rest of the stuff, the rank and file undead, are merely cannon fodder, but perfect for going after those killstreak chain challenges.


Location, Location, Location: During my playthrough of the Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, not once did I come across a vehicle or "Fast Travel" teleportation beacon, ensuring that one of my prime complaints about Borderlands—its excessive foot-based travel and reliance on frequent map-checking—was still an annoyance. While the valleys of death the player must walk through are attractive, a moody change of scenery from the bright and arid Badlands, the expansion's go here, fetch this, cash in tedium is the same as it ever was.

Where'd All Those Brains Go? You'll harvest zombie brains throughout the game. Who knows how many I'd collected over the five to six hours worth of scouring Dr. Ned's island of the undead? Probably hundreds, considering how many headshots I'd accumulated. Too bad that at near the end of the downloadable episode's experience, when I need all those brains for a particular mission, my stock of brains was a whopping zero. And speaking of brains, the enemy AI is just as artificially brain-dead as ever, with path-finding issues making two of the game's more voluminous bosses—including the final final boss—a joke to take down.

The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned is a fine addition from a content perspective, offering a gigabyte sized slice of Pandora to explore and exterminate. If more of Borderlands' addictive brand of gameplay is what you're looking for—now with more of those zombies the kids are so crazy about—this downloadable episode should suit your needs.

What the downloadable content is lacking is anything substantive beyond that. There's no adjustment to the level cap, so anyone looking to grind on zombie flesh will rack up experience points that go nowhere beyond level 50. While the content is fresh and probably worth the ten dollar ticket to get to Dr. Ned's island, don't expect much beyond reanimated, recycled corpse looting.


Borderlands: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned was developed by Gearbox Software and published by 2K Games for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on November 24. Retails for $9.99 USD. A download code was given to us by the developer for reviewing purposes. Completed all story missions and bounties on Xbox 360 with the exception of the extended "Braaaaaaaaaains!" series of missions.

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