REVIEW | "Tales From The Borderlands": Episode Two
"Atlas Mugged," the latest episode in the Tales From The Borderlands series, has been a long time coming. Whatever delayed its release, the time Telltale Games and Gearbox Software spent working on it shows that they're about giving the best quality experience you can find on an adventure to Pandora.
We begin Episode Two with the return of Handsome Jack, in the form of a hologram that only Rhys can see and hear. The frienemies discover that a clue to a Vault Key may be in the abandoned town of Old Haven, but after being separated during a moonshot battle Fiona and Sasha and Rhys and Vaughn find that their paths are filled with danger at every inch of the way. Vasquez is hot on Rhys's tail, whereas the bounty on Fiona's head becomes too good to resist. Only an unholy reunion of sorts can bring back whatever calmness may exist on Pandora, but will it only occur with the help of Handsome Jack or through some extreme trust exercises?
This was the last time they brought Gallagher to a Vault Raid.
Let me just say that whenever Handsome Jack makes an appearance, nothing but pure maniacal joy will rush through your veins. Reprising the role from previous Borderlands series, Dameon Clarke pushes the dementedness to the extreme. You can tell that he has an amazing time when playing such a dicky character. This does not take anything away from the rest of the cast, with Troy Baker, Laura Bailey, Chris Hardwick, Erin Yvette, and Patrick Warburton all doing an amazing job with their portrayals. There is not a single miscast to be found within this story thus far.
As for the story, writers Pierre Shorette and Adam Hines give the Borderlands fans everything they'd want on a shiny silver platter. The comedy is golden, with a reconciliation of sorts between Rhys and Vaughn on Loader Bot being the epitome of the silliness that you'll find while traversing Pandora. I sometimes found it hard to choose certain parts of dialogue in the game because I had a feeling all the picks would lead to some great banter. This is a sure sign that your choose-you-own-adventure game has a great story, where the urge to pick, choose, and then restart back from the previous save to see what the other choices lead to overtakes your gaming spirit.
When it comes to the more action-packed scenes, the gameplay flows with near-perfection. Even the Quicktime Events feel more rewarding than most games, with reactions and end results leading towards some pretty stellar moments. Nary a glitch or strange background rendering was discovered during my entire run-through, possibly making this the most finely tuned episode of anything Telltale Games has released as of this moment. It also helps that this is the most gorgeous series the point-and-click adventure experts have ever concocted.
It's truly hard to talk about Tales From The Borderlands without fear of spoiling any of the good parts. If you have played "Zer0 Sum," then you've seen only a fraction of the entertaining elements that this series brings to the screen. Even if you are not familiar at all with past Borderlands games, the quality of both the storytelling and the humor make Telltale's adaptation easy to jump into.
- Some of the best writing in gaming to date
- Fantastic voice cast
- QTEs feel more rewarding
- Not enough bro-ing out
- Still no Claptrap
There's obviously a good reason why Lionsgate announced a partnership with Telltale Games, and if it's not because of the amount of love and hard work put into Tales From The Borderlands then I don't know what it may be. Whatever the case, "Atlas Mugged" is a true action-packed hilarious tour-de-force that puts most of the best TV shows America has to offer to shame. With Handsome Jack back in the picture the lives of Rhys and Fiona in the next few episodes are most definitely going to be fun, with a capital F and U.
PS4 review code provided by Telltale Games and Kim Manuel of Sandbox Strategies