There is a particular moment of slapstick that stuck with me in the latest chapter of Telltale’s Tales from the Borderlands. Vaughn is trying to sew up his friendship with Rhys, offering him the ultimate sign of acceptance – the bro-fist.
“Thanks, bro,” says an ecstatic Vaughn after a bro-tacular clash of fists.
“Hey, we’re bros, bro,” responds Rhys. A Loader Bot than gets in on the act and bro-fists both Rhys and Vaughn. “That’s bro, bro.”
It’s easy to tell where it goes from there and, with Handsome Jack’s cameo at the end of episode one, as well as his vulgar, comedic presence in Atlas Mugged, there are more laugh-out-loud moments to come.
As expected, players pick up where they left off in Zer0 Sum. Handsome Jack appears, telling Rhys that a two-piece object they discovered, in an underground bunker, is part of the “Gortys Project”. Meanwhile, with Rhys dumbfounded as to why nobody else is reacting to Jack’s presence, Fiona and co. find a video log from a former Atlas assassin named Athena. The audio tape is traced to a Gortys facility in Old Haven – the gang’s next port of call.
However, things don’t go smoothly. In typical Borderlands fashion, Atlas Mugged has a pretty awesome opening cutscene. Both the main characters and the supporting cast are in a hurry, as their escape involves a dangerous weather event, an unroadworthy vehicle, and a Rakk Hive. The accompanying track is pretty catchy, too.
They become separated once more, now with Jack in tow. One thing that’s particularly good about Atlas Mugged is that, once all the pleasantries are out of the way, several characters become more fleshed out and have a greater impact on the underlying story.
One of these characters is Vasquez, who develops an even more scornful relationship with ex-employee Rhys. Patrick Warburton’s role is fantastic here, injecting some seriousness and wit to Atlas Mugged. One standout moment sees Vasquez holding a Torgue-like prototype shotgun towards Rhys – only to find out the gun doesn’t work. His macho-factor dwindles significantly, as he spends a few hilarious minutes muttering and cursing trying figuring what’s wrong.
The minute changes in gameplay also give rise to more affecting decisions on Atlas Mugged’s story. There are a lot of choices that ask players to question the trust of not only Rhys and Fiona’s immediate relationship, but also that of Fiona’s sister, Sasha, and Vaughn. They may seem like trivial moments at first, but you can be assured they will manifest into important decisions later on.
Then there’s Handsome Jack (Dameon Clark) who, in a holographic state, tries to grab Vasquez on his crotch. It’s lewd, crude, and as much as you try to stop laughing, you can’t. Jack’s antics only continue further into the episode – with highly amusing results.
The storyline in Atlas Mugged plays out at a nice pace and provides even more infectious humour, friendly faces, and some pretty nifty action sequences as you progress. The latter comes mainly from your encounter with Athena, who is after the bounty on Fiona’s head. She’s a very intimidating character with glowing red eyes and dark garb, using gunfire to power her boomerang-like spiked shield.
Despite the improvements made over episode one, there are a couple of problems I have with Atlas Mugged. Firstly, infrequent frame rate issues and stutters during gameplay are still present. Also, it’s a much shorter episode than Zer0 Sum – coming in at just under two hours. After almost a four month wait in between drinks for the series, is the quantity enough?
The series is also virtually barren, at least in comparison to the main Borderlands games, when it comes to weaponry. Hopefully, the gunplay will get more serious as the storyline in Tales from the Borderlands opens up.
Atlas Mugged is a satisfactory follow-up to Zer0 Sum, filling in a slightly thinner plot with a stack of laugh-out-loud moments. So far, this is a very enjoyable game that has stuck to the roots of its ancestors. Fingers crossed players aren’t kept waiting as long for the next instalment.
An Amusing Tale
Another side-splitting adventure in the land of Pandora.