Tales from the Borderlands Episode 2: Atlas Mugged Review [Placeholder, Please!]
Check out the review for Tales from the Borderlands Episode 1: Zer0 Sum here!
Once again Tales from the Borderlands slam-dunks the player directly back into the occasionally silly narrative of our intrepid heroes: Rhys, Handsome Jack groupie, and Fiona, practiced Scooter-charmer.
As these two cordially snarky friends-turned-emphatic-question-mark continue to snipe at each other in between fragments of backstory, they are herded along to places unknown by the same stoic stranger in a gas mask and voice changer.
Thankfully for those of us who started in on Episode 1 as it was released, the narrative does a decent job of catching you up without deliberately spoon-feeding you all the details.
(Just in case you forgot any of these crazy faces.)
In any multi-episode narrative, there's bound to be some downtime - and in all honesty, the majority of this episode feels a little like one long segment of downtime before what is hopefully another round of crazy hijinks in Episode 3. Sure, there are several run-ins with some neighborhood Psychos who wouldn't mind digging the eyes out of your fleshy meatsack with a spork, but these altercations are brief and the quick-time events (QTE) actions are somewhat unoriginal and forced.
They make sense in context of what's going on... but compared to controlling and aiming your friendly neighborhood Loader Bot and his mini-arsenal of body-squelching rocket launchers in Episode 1, mashing Q to watch Rhys pull his foot out of a completely obvious gaping hole in a dumpster lid so he can reach one last powerbox just feels a little flat.
To their credit, it kept me keyed to attention and my hand ready at the mouse at all times - not always the case in the midst of long cutscene segments.
It's also important to note that "not as exciting" does not necessarily equate to "boring."
This episode was far from boring.
In fact, it felt like it ended far too quickly - faster even than going through Episode 1. I finished it in about 2 hours where I finished the first one after approximately 2.5. (Steam tells me 2.9, but I distinctly remember some deep technological derping on my part getting it to run properly at first.)
Time count aside, this game felt faster because it also played through faster - fewer instances of crawling around in slow motion and walking painfully slowly around single enclosed spaces. Sure, you can still walk around, point and click, but it does not have the same sense of a snail oozing along at a glacial pace to take a look at all the things you need to - a definite increase in this aspect of fun factor compared to Episode 1.
And just as before, you have the same eclectic mix of sassy fun and over-the-top weird of the Borderlands franchise tempered to the perfect degree of funny.
The game does not hold back from poking fun at itself - and in fact, poor Scooter's big Borderlands-typical entrance gets shot down a little by Fiona's oh-so-eloquent attitudes of ".................wtf are you doing."
It also pulls no punches when it comes to making snap decisions on what kind of person you want your characters to be - the Telltale comes out to play as you take the reins on just how big of a jerk you're willing to be and to whom. (Not to mention how you deal with the size of your best friend's pipes.)
This may not be The Walking Dead where your decisions can have tragic consequences, but it's always interesting to see how your choices can make a difference.
While this episode may feel a little like filler in the grand scheme of things to come, the robot-laced ending is still likely to have you chomping at the bit for more.
Thinking of buying in?
Once again, for those of you who haven't gotten into this franchise before, I highly recommend you having played at least Borderlands 2 (which will fill you in reasonably well the events that occurred in the first Borderlands). Starting this on its own will inevitably cheat you of the sly humor and the generous helping of backstory you won't get by going "dude, who's the dead guy?"
If you're still keen to jump right on in, you can find this title easiest from the Telltale Store which will lead you in the right direction for your particular platform.