I was fully prepared to hate the first DLC pack for Borderlands as it seemed like an attempt to cash-in on the zombie craze that's sweeping the video game industry right now. The first half of The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned lived up to these low expectations as it felt like the folks at Gearbox were just trying to incorporate bits of Left 4 Dead and the the Ravenholm level of Half Life 2 into their game which didn't work for a number of reasons. However, once you get past those bits and into the original Geabox content, the DLC pack really takes off.
The backstory for the DLC pack is fairly simple. Dr. Ned (no relation to Dr. Zed although he looks pretty much the same) has accidentally infected the island of Jakobs Cove with a virus that has turned them all into zombies. The island is home to the Jakobs corporation and they've hired you to help clean up Dr. Ned's mess and help keep it quiet.
I would recommend that you explore the DLC pack after you've finished the main story line (although you can play it before you finish which is what I did) as you will quickly outlevel your progress in the main storyline. This isn't a big deal as you can already do this if you play through the side quests in the game but I managed to tack on 10 levels to my character with the pack (level 27 to 37) and I'm now way beyond where I was before I played the new missions.
The DLC Pack replaces the dry, barren deserts of Pandora with a lush, green swamp to explore. The environment evokes feeling of exploring the Louisiana bayou minus the crocodiles and airboats. You do explore abandoned labs and a city area but the majority of the action is in the swamps of Jakobs Cove. As you would expect you'll be fighting the zombie versions of the game's standard enemies. There are a few other additions to the bestiary but for the most part you'll be killing waves and waves of zombified versions of the bandits found in boxed version of the game.
There is one difference between the zombies and the normal bad guys and that when you shoot the zombies in the head you have a chance to blow their brains out. Yes, you can literally blow the brains out of the zombies. The brains, while a nice touch, are used for one set of missions in the game and end up cluttering up the game more than adding any real value. This creates huge masses of clutter on the ground after a large battle and makes it difficult to find the useful items in a sea of brain matter.
Some of the newer, larger monsters while difficult to kill via traditional mechanisms are very easy to kill if you can get them stuck in the geometry of the game. I know it's cheap but it almost became a game to run around and see where I could get some of the larger monsters trapped so I could pick them off from a safe distance. The zombies are the traditional shambling zombies which allows you to out run them most of the time. There were entire sections of the game I was able to "Sinhaseni" by sprinting past large crowds to reach a goal. This wasn't really as much of trying to run because I couldn't fight the zombies but more because killing them had lost all of it's joy.
Don't expect any new mission types from The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned as you're going to get the usual collection of gathering missions, kill X number of monsters, and collect Y number of recordings that you get in the core game. Sure the content of the missions is new but Gearbox isn't breaking a lot of ground with the mission in the DLC pack. That said the missions are fairly well written and are entertaining to play through.
The game is best when the humor and style of Gearbox shines through. Talking about some of these would spoil major plot points in the game but I will say that the final boss fight is one of the best I've seen in a while and I'll never look at odd hats in the same way again. I'd venture to say the game is worth the $10 just for the final boss fight but that would skip over a few other clever moments in the game like the nod to Scooby and the gang and a few other clever moments tucked away in the game.
In order to get the most out of the Zombie Island of Dr. Ned you'll need one to three buddies to play with. I solo'd most of the game and while it was somewhat enjoyable the time I spent playing it with John made the experience significantly better. The game is also very generous with loot drops so if you want a quick way to score some sweet loot, cleaning up after Dr. Ned is the way to go.
It's hard to beat the value of the Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, there's a lot of good original content once you get past some of the first half of the content pack and the boss fight was a lot of fun. There are worse ways to spend $10 so if you've got time (and a few buddies) this is the pack to get.
Solid but not great, the first DLC pack is best when it the content is original. The final boss fight in the game makes the pack worth $10.
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