It has been a while since we last visited Pandora in Tales from the Borderlands, and Rhys and Fiona are eager to continue their story(ies); as eager as only those held at gunpoint can be. But they’ll have to wait, because the second episode, appropriately titled Atlas Mugged, wants you to talk to (and mutilate) dead people and take part in a wild car chase, where the other car is a giant monster, before it can begin in earnest. However, it is that kind of wacky, and slightly disturbing, humor that makes Atlas Mugged so enjoyable to play through. And the fact we get to spend more time with Handsome Jack doesn’t hurt.
The story continues where we last left off – with Fiona inspecting the holographic map showing a potential location of a vault, and Rhys being weird and talking to himself. At least, that’s what it looks like from Fiona’s perspective. From Rhys’ eyes we can see the reason for his seemingly unexplained behavior – the digital ghost of Handsome Jack, which embedded itself in Rhys’ brain chip. Once again, it’s extremely entertaining playing the same story from two different perspectives and seeing how the personalities and mutual hate of the two protagonists affect events and their outcomes. Unfortunately, after an incredibly fun opening sequence, Atlas Mugged separates the two and thus loses some of its unique spin on narrative. However, it ultimately proves to be for the best, as we get to cover more ground and see more of Telltale’s version of Pandora and its denizens.
And those denizens are what makes this episode such a hoot to play. Whether it’s the creatures, the robots or the people, Pandora is full of things trying to either kill you or simply chat your ear off (or sometimes both). It’s always fun when a new character is introduced, since you know it will bring more of that crazy humor with it, but even the ones we’ve already met in the first episode still manage to surprise and entertain. Some of these crazy, crazy characters will be very familiar to Borderlands fans. For the sake of avoiding spoilers, I won’t mention too many names, but fans will see a few familiar faces, the most notable of which is Handsome Jack. Jack is his usual mix of charm, wit, juvenile sense of humor and psychotic blood lust, only this time (fortunately for Rhys) he is completely intangible, so no spitting, punching in the face or murdering, which are admittedly some of his better qualities.
Handsome Jack’s presence sure helps Atlas Mugged to be funnier than Zer0 Sum, but that’s not the only reason. The second episode feels more cohesive than the first one, and doesn’t seem to concern itself with too much drama. It is plain simple fun with lots of explosions, guns and bounty hunters. You get to mess around with powerful weaponry, make snide comments about someone’s hair and say “Bro” a lot. True, that may not sound like a hell of a good time, but when you put the Borderlands spin on it, it suddenly becomes the best time you had with a spoon and a dead man’s eyeball.
On the action front, things are pretty much the same. Rhys and Fiona have many more chances to get into trouble and use whatever means necessary to get themselves out of it. Sometimes it can be a sharp wit, but more often than not the solution is a bullet enhanced with elemental damage, or a homemade grenade. When all else fails, there is always the option to run, which leads to a few intense chase scenes. Overall there is less action and more talk in Atlas Mugged, but when this talk is done with folks all across the crazy scale, it can be much more interesting than simply running for your life.
Tales from the Borderlands: Atlas Mugged is light-hearted, funny and over-the-top, three great ways to describe a Borderlands game. It is more certain of what it wants to be than its predecessor, and thus manages to be entertaining on the most basic level while never sacrificing story or character growth. Handsome Jack and the other familiar faces help cement this series as a part of the Borderlands universe, and prove that Pandora still has a lot more to offer. It would have been nice to have more than one big set-piece, but the episode is paced so well that no one moment has to carry the weight all by itself.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.