GameZone's 31 Games of Halloween 2013: Borderlands: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned
Borderlands erupted into the gaming scene back in 2009 and delivered a highly memorable mix of FPS and RPG action. It was soon followed by a tasty batch of great DLC, that to this day, I believe to be some of the best post-launch content to come to any game (with the exception of Mad Moxxi's Underdome Riot). But what does this all have to do with Halloween? Well, one of the DLC packs was The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned. That's right, we're entering the realm of the undead once more on GameZone's 31 Games of Halloween.
If you don't like zombies, though, you can go to hell. Oh, I'm not trying to be a jerk or anything — our last entry was Shadows of the Damned, which takes place in hell, so check that out.
Why it stands out
Zombie Island was the first content pack to arrive for Borderlands following the game's launch. There was a lot of potential there, and thankfully, the DLC delivered. You're dropped into a dark and menacing world filled with zombies and other monsters. While the undead aren't speedy by any means, getting surrounded by a gang of zombies doesn't bode well and forces you to either retreat or make every single shot count.
For Borderlands fans, Zombie Island is practically a must-play piece of digital content. It stays true to the formula that's worked for the series, but it throws in the pleasantly absurd novelty that's present in so many zombie-themed works of fiction. You'd think that the undead gimmick would feel out of place in Borderlands, but that couldn't be further from the truth, as Gearbox was able to make up a story that makes sense within the context of the series.
Also worth pointing out is the fact that we're treated to the return(ish) of a charming character from the main game, which is actually kind of nice.
Is it scary?
It's funny, but Zombie Island straddles the line between creepy and fun pretty damn smoothly. Jakobs Cove is quite atmospheric — it's dark, sullen, and gritty. Crumbling buildings and leafless trees surround you, and of course, the zombies themselves act as a perfect interactive backdrop for this interesting setting. An ever-present gloominess makes the whole thing stand out, and I truly consider this DLC world one of the highlights of the entire Borderlands experience, even if it isn't part of the main campaign.
This isn't some sorrowful tale, though. After all, this is Borderlands, so there's an inherent lightheartedness to Zombie Island that just makes it a blast to play. You're never really worried about what might happen to your characters, and you're never fearful that the story's going to take a foul turn. Simply put, this add-on is appropriately moody without going overboard, and it's clear that the fun factor is the main priority here.
Why play it on Halloween?
Depending on your play style, you can get through Zombie Island in anywhere between three and seven hours. Ideally, it's great for a play session or two if you're looking to rampage right through it, which makes it a fun quick play for Halloween. Add to that the fact that it features zombies and WereSkags, along with the tougher Pumpkinhead and Tankenstein, and it's perfectly appropriate for the October 31 holiday.
This DLC is worthy of any Borderlands fanatic's time and attention. No, it's not the best add-on for the first game, but it's still really great overall. Zombie Island is really the only part of Borderlands that's truly fitting for Halloween, and it's short enough that you can spend a few hours just playing the hell out of it while eating Snickers bar after Snickers bar.
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