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The Island of Dr. Ned download content for Borderlands is a welcome friend in my house. I haven't been more surprised this year than with my compulsive love of Borderlands on the Xbox 360. It just goes to show that despite my adoration for deep and meaningful videogames, I still enjoy the cathartic process of blowing stuff up (see Red Faction: Guerrilla) or shooting bad guys with a multitude of different weaponry.
This first instance of downloadable content - The Island of Dr. Ned - condenses much of the 30+ hour experience of the original game into a four hour romp through some very different landscapes and environments. It even addresses one major flaw of Borderlands by actually including a narrative to the experience, complete with an introduction and conclusion narrated by Ivan, Pandora's seemingly omnipresent weapons seller.
The premise of this Borderlands expansion is excellent B-movie fodder - you arrive at Dr. Ned's island and find out that the good doctor has 'accidentally' created a never-ending stream of the undead. It naturally falls to you to help him correct his mistake by putting various bullet-shaped holes into the zombies and going on the typical stream of quests that Borderlands has at its core.
Gone are the bleached-out visuals of the Arid Hills around Fyrestone and instead you have the gloomy swamps and heavily wooded environments that bring a sense of claustrophobia and unease into the game.
This DLC adds around 50 of those new quests, but the biggest change I experienced was how different the look and feel of the game was. Gone are the bleached-out visuals of the Arid Hills around Fyrestone, instead you have the gloomy swamps and heavily wooded environments that bring a sense of claustrophobia and unease.
Let me be clear, this isn't suddenly an early Resident Evil or Silent Hill, but I found the change dramatic enough to feel uncomfortable - particularly when fighting against the zombies for long periods of time. The evil red eyes of the infected ravens and the way the zombie midgets fling themselves around in such a savage way started to get under my skin. The game doesn't shy away from pitting a lot of undead against you at the same time. I was frequently overwhelmed and surrounded - a situation completely unfamiliar from the rest of Borderlands.
Playing a lot of the content for laughs with several winks to the camera and a certain Brothers Grimm design aesthetic, I thoroughly enjoyed this add-on download content for Borderlands. Changing the mood and the environment of the game completely gave me a much visually darker and, at times, an uneasy feeling when trudging through the zombie-infested swamp-lands. Even after release Borderlands continues to be my surprise hit of the year and this content furthers my adoration for its atmospheric setting and simple mechanics.
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