Tales from the Borderlands – Episode 2: review

 Tales from the Borderlands Episode 2

It’s been nearly four long and gruelling months since the release of Tales from the Borderlands episode one, which ended on an explosive cliffhanger with more bang than a slag charged Vladof rocket launcher. We were really fond of the first episode, Zer0 Sum, and its chaotic tour of bandit laden Pandora (seriously, read our review of Episode One if you haven’t already), so we had high hopes for part two, Atlas Mugged.

Without giving away any of the story, things pick up in the unusual place our heroes were left at the end of the last episode. The band starts off together, with Fiona, Rhys and their associates picking up the pieces and having a snout around the mini treasure trove in which they ended up. Gameplay is once again split between the perspectives of both main characters, meaning the story is free to hop about between locations as soon as the characters split up again. And it doesn’t take long for the chaos of Pandora to pick up and separate our gaggle of loveable rogues.

 Tales from the Borderlands Episode 2

Activating boost mode without seat belts is ill advised

After a fairly slow (although quite funny) opening, an over the top action sequence kicks things into gear involving a monster, a car chase, and a severe case of orbital bombardment. It doesn’t amount to much more than the kind of quick time event we’ve come to expect from Telltale, but it certainly livens things up in the typical action movie on crack fashion we’ve come to expect from this always over-the-top series. From here, things don’t tend to slow down much thanks to a steady onslaught of clever dialogue, funny banter and wholesome violence. A few familiar faces pop up too, including everyone’s favourite wasteland wheeler dealer and yet another fan-favourite vault hunter.

Popping between locations both new and familiar, the episode concludes all too quickly at another climactic moment. The result of your final choice in the chapter is left a mystery, presumably until next time (please don’t be another four months away), and definitely has us dancing with excitement for the next instalment. It’s just that the build-up to the final moments of Atlas Mugged lacked the impact we felt in the series’ opening episode. Instead of a bullymong-sized punch sending us hurtling into a conundrum, it felt more like we were slowly wheeled into position by a trundling Claptrap. Not to say the story is bad by any means, but the action cuts out just as things get interesting. Still, always better to leave the audience wanting more (especially when it’s in a torturously teasing episodic format).

 Tales from the Borderlands Episode 2

Now there’s a familiar throwing arm…

Whilst the story telling remains top notch as ever, the gameplay sections seemed to have taken a back seat this time around. Zer0 Sum had a variety of set pieces that carried a great sense of involvement, largely down to the use of Rhys’ ECHO eye and plenty of fun-loving violence. Atlas Mugged feels a little lacking in this department. Don’t get us wrong, it certainly has its moments, but they just feel very short-lived and not anywhere near as dramatic as the situations that cropped up last time around.

Another minor gripe we have is that our characters’ inventory pockets are starting to bulk up, but we’re not really sure what anything will do or how it will affect us later down the line. We keep coming across new items and cash that gets funnelled into the inventory panel which can be displayed on the screen at almost any time. The trouble is, you don’t get any sense of why you have these items, and no glimmer of satisfaction when it comes to using them. As such, we’re not sure whether it’s a wise idea to save the money that’s stacking up within Fiona’s purse, or just spend it during the couple of opportunities we’ve been given to splurge so far.

 Tales from the Borderlands Episode 2

Just how will you talk yourself out of this situation?

Still the criticisms here are minor, as the experience is still classic Telltale. You can tell they pour love into every franchise they work on, and Borderlands is no exception. There are just enough nods to characters and recognisable locations to immerse you in the world, but plenty of new elements that make everything fresh and feel like a new game experience. It’s great to see a Pandora that’s not obscured by gun sights and explosions, but still shares that sense of manic craziness.

Overall, Tales from the Borderlands episode two, Atlas Mugged, is still highly enjoyable from start to finish. It’s a little slower, noticeably shorter and lacks a bit of oomph, but it’s still overflowing with that completely loveable Borderlands charm. Telltale have perfectly captured the feel for Gearbox’s smash hit world, immersing us amongst its colourful characters in a way we didn’t think was possible. We’re very much looking forward to part three of this Borderlands epic, but hope it picks up the pace a little bit, not to mention gives us content that feels a little fleshier. Atlas Mugged was over far too soon

critical score 7

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Written by Anthony H

Anthony has been playing games for far too much of his life, starting with the MS-DOS classic Mario is Missing. Since then his tastes have evolved to include just about anything, but his soft spot lies with shooters and the odd strategy game. Anthony will inspire you with his prose, uplift you with his wit and lie to you in his biography.

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