By Neil McCormick
When I heard that the first DLC for Borderlands was going to be zombie inspired, I groaned. Not another zombie adventure, surely it is a concept that has been played to death? After all ,we have had in the last few years, Dead Rising, Zombie Apocalypse, let alone two Left 4 Dead games, Resident Evil games, Alone in the Dark and the Zombie Horde mode in Call of Duty: World at War.
Well I was wrong – I have to put my hand up, GearBox has created probably the most inspired and arguably the best zombie experience I could ever have have wished for. In doing so they also highlighted a flaw to the main game of Borderlands. The story in the main game is pretty lacking, all the more surprising considering the emphasis on the RPG elements of the game. Do not get me wrong, I love Borderlands, it is probably my game of the year. After all what is not to like, about exploring waste land, finding some pretty fine weaponry and despatching enemies to their maker, whilst looting for dollars. In fact if you are looking for a game to play online, this is 2009’s best co-operative experience.
Firstly praise should be given for how the DLC has been implemented into the game, rather than being a stand alone affair like the Grand Theft Auto DLC packs, it is accessed no differently than how you use the fast travel pods. It is a great touch – you feel it is part of the game.
You are then automatically whisked away to Jakob’s Cove,which is a small patch of corporate owned property for the employees of the Jakobs Corporation. The Jacob’s Corporation is one of the major weapons manufacturers on Pandora.
Instead of finding a pretty little town ala Disney’s Celebration you find yourself in an almost horror movie cliché of a place. You see, Jakob’s Cove,was a bad scientific experiment which true to form has gone wrong. The town inhabitants have become an army of walking dead. It seems that the corporation have appointed Dr. Ned … who is a virtually a twin in appearance to Dr. Zed despite the striking similarities and the obvious fake moustache. So you find yourself going on missions to rid Jakob’s Cove of its zombies and other nightmarish creatures to reverse the wrongs caused by the experiment.
The story moves at a good pace and kept my attention through out. It was refreshing having a decent story to keep my attention. I wanted to find out what had happened. Whilst not the largest DLC you will come across approximately 50 missions or about a couple of hours to do the main storyline.
Speaking of the missions, the main story missions are fun to tackle. Also just like the previous areas such as Fyrestone, there is the community notice board that the Claptrap robot will happily point out offers side quests to help level up your character.. The side quests were quite similar in premise to what has been seen in the main story – such as the mission that has you looking for a woman’s lost husband. You’ll also be taking on a few bosses, many of which are actually quite interesting such as Pumpkinhead and a Frankenstein’s inspired monster. The Frankinstein inspired monster, looks very well in the cartoon style graphics.
Zombies have came a long way from the shuffling affairs of early Hammer Films. That is not enough for today’s gamer. The Left 4 Dead franchise have reinvigorated the genre, with its various types of Zombie. 2 K Games have pandered to the zombie loving player by introducing several types of zombie. They range from t running psycho zombies, leaping midget zombies, lurching zombies, zombie torsos pulling themselves by their arms, defilers that spit a camera clogging spray of filth upon you, tank throwing suicidal zombies that explode next to you and finally the tankensteins, giant undead behemoths with propane tanks on their backs that take a surpreme amount of ammo and effort to take down.
I am not sure if Gearbox could have portrayed the environment just as well as what was achieved here, if they had of been using a conventional game engine. The cel shading graphic novel style approach was very well suited to convey the funereal atmosphere with drab skies, crumbling graveyards and contributed to an over all feeling that something terrible had happened.
The only negative comment I can make about the DLC – for those of us wanting to see a raise in level from the current level cap of 50, it has not happened. At time of writing, the second installment of DLC has been announced and again it appears there will be no change in level cap again.
Ok, The Zombie Island of Dr Ned, may not offer that many new features. But if you are looking for something to while away a couple of hours that is endearing to play, I can think of no better a candidate for your time.