The newest episode of Tales from the Borderlands hits our screens this week and I mostly discussed how sexually appealing I find Handsome Jack. Especially now he’s dead.
It’s safe to say that Borderlands is pretty much my favourite video game franchise of all time. Not only is it funny as hell, enthralling to play and totally open to immersive RPG character building, but I’m really fucking good at it as well. So imagine my erection when Tales From The Borderlands came out and the good folks down at TellTale Games gave me a cheeky extra window into the turbulent world of Pandora.
The newest episode, Catch-A-Ride, comes out this week (22nd June 2015) and I was lucky enough to get my dirty hands on it early and live my
Pandorian experience through the not-so-capable hands of Rhys and Fiona – the Hyperion crook and the slimy con-woman, respectively. Whilst it continues on with the same dry humour familiar to the original Borderlands franchise, TellTale takes a few side steps away from the strong narrative thread that gripped you through the first two episodes in place of an excruciatingly adorable robot and a couple of celebrity cameos.
Lets take this back 3 months ago to the last episode, Atlas Mugged, where we were left with the difficult choice of whether to trust your tricksy and unwilling partner Fiona or the ‘dead-but-in-your-brain-and-ruining-your-day’ Handsome Jack over how to save their doomed companions. It goes without saying that I hit the Jack option so hard I lost several of my nerve endings and witnessed Rhys lose bodily control to a guy who was once hellbent on total universe destruction. The excitement was piss worthy.
But now Episode 3 comes along. The fight scenes are still fascinating to explore, particularly because of the clever ways a fast-paced ‘shoot-n-loot’ has been turned into a talkie, quick-time event centered game. The characters are all still deeply untrustworthy and you’re guaranteed to get the shit end of your conversations options because the bottom line is that you’re fucked either way.
However, this episode did struggle to maintain its hold on a central plot line that I thought was incredibly strong – we may have opened a couple of Vaults in our time, but why the fuck not open one more right now?!The guy may have died in Borderlands 2, but fuck me I’m glad TellTale brought him back – Handsome Jack has a direct line to my reproductive organs. And before you think I’ve lost my mind and I’m the shittest video game journalist in the world, let me tell you that Jack more than just ‘makes an appearance’ in the newest episode of Tales From The Borderlands; he basically MAKES it.
Instead, we become friends with the Gortys Project; a fucking heart-attack inducingly cute robot with a map to the Vault. But first… let’s turn this whole episode into a Fetch Quest to find his Energy Chassis. Yeah, that happens. But don’t get me wrong, it’s silly, a butt load full of fun and there isn’t a minute of gameplay that makes me want to switch off, but dammit TellTale, you had me sold on the Vault story – DO THAT INSTEAD.
Along the way to pick up this pointless bit of sparkly tin, we see the evolution of a few core characters in ways that seem to be setting up an incredibly moving and difficult end game. Vaughn gets nostalgic and metaphorically sucks off Rhys to remind him what good bros you are. Sasha gets flirty in the Eden Project and lets you put a fucking flower in her hair. Athena gets a humanising conversation with her girlfriend Janey Springs and becomes less of a douche canoe. Even Loader Bot gets some personal growth by befriending Gortys and having playful robot sentience banter. We’ve become such a beautiful fucked up family and you just know something bad is going to happen, which makes TellTale such powerful game developers – you’ll know what I mean if you’ve been anywhere near their famous Walking Dead series…
The culmination of all of these events – whilst still set inside the Eden Project – builds into an amazing crescendo of action that must have taken up at least the last third of the episode. It’s thrilling. It’s fast paced. But unfortunately, it doesn’t leave you completely satisfied as the same pattern of events from the first 2 episodes comes along to ruin your fun.
Whenever you’re stuck in a corner and things are looking bleak, don’t spend a single second writing your Will because you can guarantee Loader Bot will appear out of thin air and whisk your ass off to safety. Honestly, he’s the robotic incarnate of Tolkien’s Eagles.My first CAR playthrough had no major casualties, but a traumatic run-in with two of those celebrity cameos made my tits fly back into my chest cavity as I prayed for dear life. The shock arrival (and I mean shock; they fucking rugby tackle their way through a building as an entrance) of two prominent old Vault Hunters from the very first game turn up as bounty hunters to tear apart my close-knit family for some frightening old hag called Vallory, or the ‘Queenpin’ as she affectionately goes by.
9 outta 10. Catch-A-Ride creates multiple moments of genuine laugh-out-loud moments entwined with mentally challenging spells of conversation when you’re stuck for choice on who the hell to trust in your present company. The final effect is a polished game designed for Borderlands fans regardless of their status in the 2K Fan Club. A definite recommendation for anyone with a tenner lying about and in need of a good time.
(Disclaimer: I’m definitely not talking about prostitution, as I cost at least double that.)
Watch the full Launch trailer below and see what you think!