Tales From The Borderlands Episode Two: Atlas Mugged Review

Be aware of Episode One and Borderlands 2 spoilers as Episode Two arrives… At las-t!

01

Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Format: iOS, PC (reviewed), PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Released: March 17, 2015
Copy supplied by publisher

It’s been quite some time since Telltale debuted Tales From The Borderlands, kicking off with an excellent episode that demonstrated how the studio’s award-winning formula could be applied to comedy just as deftly as tragedy. With a wonderful mix of action and humor, Zer0 Sum was a ton of fun, and while Atlas Mugged takes a more subdued approach, it still hits plenty of high notes and provides more than a few giggles.

As Episode One concluded, half of our protagonists (one, basically) came face to face with the holographic ghost of series kinda-villain Handsome Jack. It really makes you wonder why Gearbox Software ever killed him off in Borderlands 2, since they clearly designed him to be popular and haven’t been able to let go of the guy since. Nevertheless, Hyperion’s former CEO is yet to wear out his welcome with me, and he provides most of the entertainment in Atlas Mugged, coming to terms with the fate of his mortal body and taunting his apparent “host” Rhys.

Episode Two follows the formula established in the premiere, continuing as a flashback told from two perspectives. Rhys and Vaughn find themselves split from their grifter allies as they contend with their nemesis, Vasquez, and make their way to Old Haven. Aside from one particular revelation, there’s very little plot unfolding on the corporate side of the tale, with most of its time given over to developing a relationship between Rhys and Jack. Though light on storytelling, there’s some valuable characterization for the principal players, as well as Vaughn, who’s steadily evolving into a delightful sidekick.

02

On Fiona and Sasha’s side of the ride, things are a lot more intense. The duo learn they’ve crossed the path of a new antagonist, deal with some of the fallout from Felix’ betrayal, and attempt to escape the wrath of Pandora’s underworld – including Borderlands mainstay Athena, who cuts a somewhat creepy figure. Less focused on comedy, Fiona’s perspective delivers a lot of story and some darker tones, all of which lead us to a… near conclusion.

Episode Two is mostly a lot of Telltale setting things up for future installments, the kind of “grind” episode that tends to pop up in the studio’s episodic ventures. Lacking the fast pace and swift variety of scenes evidenced in the premiere, Atlas Mugged could run the risk of disappointing those who waited so long between chapters for more of the same. Telltale provides some solid material and a good few chuckles here, but it’s most certainly muted in comparison to the first. The environments are less plentiful, action sequences rarer, and cast of characters minimal.

It’s a necessary episode, however, one that moves things along and promises a lot of climactic action when the third episode rolls around. As it spends its time edging toward a big reveal involving the Atlas corporation, it crucially builds upon the principal players established in the last episode, and lines up dominoes for future use. On its own, Episode Two isn’t as great as the series’ debut, but it is of important utility, and sometimes we need a wind-up before the pitch.

03

Atlas Mugged is pretty good stuff all around – not as explosive or hilarious as last time, but consistently entertaining nonetheless, with a handful of slick action sequences to keep things spicy. As far as the bigger picture goes, Tales From The Borderlands currently runs the risk of becoming my favorite Telltale game series. We’ll see what happens in Episode Three, but if Telltale manages to hit the ball Episode Two serves it, this particular game is going to have it made.

We’ll have to wait and find out about that, though.

7.5/10
Good

 

melbye
Guest
melbye

Come with me if you want to leave

Giraffa
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Giraffa

Question: is it necessary to be familiar with the original games to understand the story of this one, or i can just go play it blind?

CCV
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CCV
I’ve played BL 1and 2, had a lot of fun but never really got deep into the mythology of the series. That said, there are a lot of references and nods to BL 2 that someone might not totally get, but the story of TftBL is so good on its own–and despite the references stands on its own–you should enjoy it plenty. Play the Telltale games. TWD and this are so fantastic they are legitimate must play games. The GoT one is pretty damn good too. Haven’t played the Fables one yet, though I’m a fan of the comic. Heard… Read more »
carg0
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carg0
overall, im liking it a lot. the writing, plot, characters, voice acting is all top-notch but this particular episode never should’ve taken this long to come out. it’s been 4 months since ep.1’s great start and there isn’t nearly enough going on here in ep.2 by comparison. it certainly didn’t help that it took about 2 hours for me to finish. i totally agree w/u Jim about Jack, though. for a character that was (and remains) so prominently featured and summarily killed off 3 years ago, he inexplicably continues to remain front & center in the Borderlands universe more than… Read more »
Not Lord Atkin
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Not Lord Atkin

Here’s a question: Is playing through Borderlands 2 required to understand what’s going on in Tales? Because the way I see it, Tales is what Borderlads should have been in the first place. I love the characters and dialogue in B2 hut holy crap is the minute-to-minute gameplay boring and repetitive.

So yeah, I really, REALLY like the idea of Tales. but should I try and finish B2 before I jump on that particular bandwagon?

Not Lord Atkin
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Not Lord Atkin

….I’ve just realised that my avatar is a walrus.

APersonAmI
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APersonAmI

You do not need to play through B2 first. Tales is great so far, and I feel like it is well written enough that the jokes still work even if you don’t have the entire context. (I don’t, and it still had me very engaged.)

Chris
Guest
As someone who was lukewarm at best on the first Borderlands game (didn’t finish it) is it worth looking into the Telltale episodes? I suppose this review was made for people who have some basic knowledge of this series, but I would have loved to know what type of gameplay this has etc and a bit more about how it works. I found the gameplay of the original game tedious and the world / humor just relied on that ‘flippant about violence’ “joke” which always bugs me. I ain’t against violence really but that certain type of “hey his head… Read more »
Dave Dogge
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Dave Dogge

I can see your point, it’s really a game for loot whores who like weird boss fights and standard quests.. I sort of liked it back in the day… the random online co-op was a bit hit and miss I thought, I am upset that the PS4 remake doesn’t include Borderlands 1 and because of that (as Deborah Meaden would say) .. “I am out.”

arakus72
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arakus72

I would strongly recommed playing Borderlands 2 before playing this, it’s a significant improvement over 1 and without playing it a lot of TftBL’s best story bits and jokes wouldn’t work as well. I would recommend playing Pre-Sequel as well, but it’s not nearly as essencial.

Marty
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Marty

Borderlands is basically first person Diablo in a Mad Max-ish setting, the story barely mattered. As for how this game works, may I suggest looking up a video of any other recent Telltale game? Mechanically they all pretty much work the same, so you’d get an idea of the gameplay without ruining any story for this one. Alternatively, I think Total Biscuit did a “WTF is…?” on this, which might give you more insight.

t4nky
Guest

I played the second game first, then Pre-Sequel, then got bored with the first. Personally, I think it improves mechanically every time. If the whole “durr hurr, his head exploded” thing rubs you the wrong way, you may not want to come back. I don’t know about the TellTale games, haven’t played them. Would like to, though. If it’s anything like The Wolf Among Us, it should be really good.

BAH!
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BAH!

I haven’t played Tales from the Borderlands, but I think I can assume it plays like every other recent Telltale game.

If true, Borderlands and TftB play nothing alike. Like, not even a little. The Telltale games are based very much on dialogue and choice-making, with a QTE section thrown in occasionally. And since TftB seems to include Handsome Jack as a significant character, it would probably be wise to power through BL2.

Everyone’s already said it, but I feel I should chime in: Borderlands 2 is MUCH better than the first in pretty much every respect.

Enuo
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Enuo

I still cant believe Telltale’s doing Minecraft.

BAH!
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BAH!

I’ve only played The Wolf Among Us (and just recently, at that), but it immediately became one of my favorite games of all time. However, I played it on the 360, meaning it ran very poorly at times- most often when I needed it to not run poorly.

That said, I have a question. Does this game run well on the 360 or XBone? I have the former, and plan on getting the latter eventually.

Sanlumiere
Guest

Oddly, for a point and click, Wolf Among Us experienced performance issues on PC as well. It’s certainly very intermittent, but based on what you saw on the Xbox 360, I am not sure it wasn’t a specific problem with Wolf Among Us.

I did NOT experience any performance issues on the PC with the first episode of Borderlands, so while that doesn’t answer your question, it does perhaps speak to TellTale Games having fixed some optimization which could reflect on the console releases as well.

Max
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Max

Wolf Among Us had hiccups on both PS3 (only played ep 1) and PS4 for me. Borderlands by comparison ran flawlessly. Not xbox I know, but near as I can tell they worked out a lot of the issues Wolf Among Us had with this latest release.

BAH!
Guest
BAH!

That’s certainly good new, fellows!

I knew (or thought I did) that TWAU had issues on PC as well; but a friend of mine played it, and reported that his not-particularly-powerful rig ran it with no issues at all. So that made me wonder just how bad the disparity between platforms was. Thanks for the answers.

Seventyfour
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Seventyfour

Great review, really looking forward to the new episode. Though I’m pretty sure the first episode was called Zero Sum, not Zero Hour.

zoombalagc
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zoombalagc

Stealth release!

tvirusgetz
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tvirusgetz

Oh crap, is it finally out?

Sapphire Crook
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Sapphire Crook

It *MIGHT* be, but some people believe it’s a temporal collapse because it comes from an era where Half Life 3 is released.