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Borderlands: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned
Score: 96%
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Gearbox Software
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: First Person Shooter/RPG

When Borderlands hit shelves back in October, it quickly garnered the praise and adoration of many critics, myself included. A bit of a surprise hit, the game embodied many of the great elements of both the FPS and RPG genres. For FPS fans, the action was fast, furious and well-executed. Want to run-n-gun, you can. Want to snipe from a distance, go ahead. Want to plow through a bunch of alien spiders in a tricked-out dune buggy, hey, that's in there too. From the role-playing side of the house, the leveling and skill system allowed developmental control over any of the four archetype characters available. Then there are the guns. We are not talking just a few guns here. We are talking 17,000,000+ possible variations. Picture Neo in The Matrix as the racks and racks of guns go flying by him and you'll be in the right neighborhood. To put the icing on the cake, the storyline was entertaining and the game's humor was spot-on. Gearbox Software did an outstanding job with Borderlands, and it does not appear that they are going to stop the fan-service there. For those vault-hunters that have finished the first adventure, a new DLC expansion has been released. Pack your bags, it's time to visit Borderlands: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned.

A Visitor's Guide to Pandora:
Those intrepid adventurers that have already traipsed across Pandora are readily familiar with the dusky, junk-strewn, desert-like environments. Upon arriving at The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned outpost (called Jakob's Cove), players will instantly realize that they are on a far different area of the planet. Gone are the dusty, arid plains; replaced by soggy, swampy areas full of overgrown vegetation which are a perfect breeding ground for all kinds of foul creatures. The entire DLC looks like something out of a Halloween in South Louisiana bedtime story. Graphically, the style is the same as Borderlands, with cel-shaded graphics and a great eye for detail evident throughout. Borderlands: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned offers players six new areas to explore, as well as some interesting new enemies to face. I would love to say that there were also new weapons available (Jakob is another arms manufacturer on Pandora after all), but since I never collected all 17 million weapons from the main game, I'm just not sure whether the items I got were new or just something I hadn't seen before.

Welcome to the Zombie Apocalypse:
So, what brings our anxious adventurers to The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned? Well, I'm glad you asked. It seems that Dr. Ned is experiencing a bit of a dilemma... in the form of a zombie apocalypse. All of the island's residents have either fled or have been turned into brain-gobbling nightmares. You have been tasked with finding out what has caused this transformation and, further, putting an end to it. Doing so takes the form of completing a series of quests.

Borderlands: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned contains a fair number of quests, most in direct relation to the main story, but also throwing in a few side missions as well. There is even an appearance by a character not seen since early in the previous adventures on Pandora, but I'll leave that one for the player to discover. During my play-through, all of the missions were marked to be of trivial difficulty for a level 30+ character. Playing my character, a fairly well-equipped 37-ish sniper, I found little serious challenge, although I was overwhelmed by sheer numbers a couple of times. What the expansion lacks in challenge for upper level characters, it makes up with in storytelling and, of course, in a staggering body count. Did I mention that there are LOTS of zombies? Lots and lots, and they come is all shapes and sizes. Besides the generic "I want to eat your brains" garden variety, expect to see Frankenzombies, suicide zombies (who throw explosive barrels and then charge the player, pulling off their own arm to detonate themselves), crawling torsos, midget zombies and the Loot Goon. Unlike the main game, where creatures only exploded upon death, it is quite possible to shoot off the arms and legs of zombies and have them still advance upon you. Headshots work like a charm, however, often serving up a zombie brain as a reward for a well-aimed shot. Just to keep things interesting, expect some were-skaags and other interesting creatures to try and make a meal out of your character as well.

Overall Value:
Borderlands: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned is an excellent expansion. It takes everything that was good about the original game and continues the concepts. If anything, the story and humor are even sharper than the original and, as we all know, zombies just make everything better! For a 30+ level character, expect 6 - 10 hours of gameplay with all of the side quests. If Gearbox Software continues to turn out high-quality DLC such as this, the Borderlands IP has the potential to be a long-lasting series. As a now die-hard fan, I certainly hope so. At $10, Borderlands: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned is an excellent bargain and should be purchased by any fan of the original game.

-The Mung Bard, GameVortex Communications
AKA Buddy Ethridge

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