By Marty Mulrooney
Atlas Mugged is the second episode of Tales From The Borderlands, a five-part episodic video game series from Telltale Games (Tales From Monkey Island, The Walking Dead). Continuing right where the previous episode left off, players must once again take control of Hyperion ‘suit’ Rhys and Pandoran con artist Fiona as they fight for their lives – and against each other.
The opening credits of Tales From The Borderlands: Episode 1 – Zer0 Sum were fantastic. Episode 2: Atlas Mugged goes one step further, with Kiss The Sky by Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra featuring Nino Mochella playing as the game enters into a slow motion interactive opening credits sequence. It’s breathless, memorable and seriously bloody cool.
Honestly – it’s one of the best opening credits sequences in film, television or video games this reviewer has ever seen. Unlike the parallel running Telltale Games series Game of Thrones – Episode 2: The Lost Lords, this follow-up episode isn’t about the calm before the storm. This is the storm. Thought the opening instalment was pedal to the metal? Atlas Mugged doesn’t have any intention of letting up on the gas whatsoever.
The main characters are by now all well established, with the motley crew of Rhys (Troy Baker), Vaughn (Chris Hardwick), Fiona (Laura Bailey) and Sasha (Erin Yvette) a constant delight. The voice acting is perfect, the chemistry between the voice actors palpable and the comedy seldom misses its mark. Once you’ve heard Rhys and Vaughn fall out then make up whilst riding a flying Loader Bot, you’ll never think of the word ‘bro’ in quite the same way again. Like, no way bro. Never bro! Atlas Mugged is so well written that an initially annoying ‘bro out’ soon becomes both endearing and hysterically funny through sheer perseverance. Hey! We’re bros bro! That’s so bro, bro. Bro-bro-bro…
Supporting the superb comedy is a storyline that actually engages, with Rhys constantly wrestling with the digital version of Handsome Jack stored inside his head (that only he can hear and see) as his ragtag group tries to track down the mysteriously named Gortys Project. Hot on their heels are bandits, assassins, bounty hunters, Rhys’s nemesis Vasquez… the pace never lets up and as a result, the excitement never fades. Decisions always feel genuine because they’re made under pressure and there is a surprising amount of ‘feels’ to go along with the nicely choreographed action sequences and consistently deep belly laughs.
Tales From The Borderlands: Episode 2 – Atlas Mugged certainly isn’t cutting edge in terms of graphics or gameplay (though both elements are still very strong), but when it comes to sheer enjoyment it’s hard to think of a better game released in recent memory. It’s the perfect balancing act of making you laugh with (and at) the main characters whilst still caring about them a great deal. If Telltale Games can keep up this level of excitement, quality and pace in future episodes, there’s no reason why Tales From The Borderlands won’t become one of their most successful episodic video game series to date. Just don’t keep us waiting so long next time, OK bro?
9 OUT OF 10