Tales From The Borderlands Review
*Disclaimer* The reviewer received a season pass code from PR. This does not affect his judgement
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Platforms: PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC & Mac
-Good story otherwise marred by technical issues-
As a fan of the Borderlands series developed by Gearbox Software and a growing fan to the works of Telltale Games, I was thrilled to find out that the RPS (Role Playing Shooter) was going to get the storytelling treatment. The world of Pandora kept many secrets and suffice to say, the Borderlands titles didn’t do a good job of detailing those secrets for players. While not every bit of info was explained, Tales From The Borderlands is easily the best game in the series to do storytelling right. Nothing less was expected from Telltale Games, the company that shapes stories from IPs such as The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us and more. Unfortunately, players must overcome the outrageous technical issues that still haunts these games while trying to enjoy the ride.
Before touching on these potential gamebreaking issues, I have to say how pleased I am to see such a wonderful cast of characters in this crazy romp of an adventure. The adventure itself spanned a little less than a year to complete with the pilot episode launching in November of last year. As I stated with my pilot episode review, prior knowledge to certain story elements and inside hints helps players understand the story especially when it comes to the villain of TFTB. In short, for those players who have not played at least Borderlands 2, a quick brush up on that game’s events can make this experience much more meaningful.
Rhys and Fiona are absolutely a match made in Pandora with their back and forth banter. There were plenty of moments in the game where I thought one of them would eventually betray the other– as is the norm to survive on Pandora. Instead, what I got was a delectable rivalry supported by a widely diverse character roster.
The player assumes the control of Rhys and Fiona at specific junctions within episodes as each of them leaves their mark upon the story. As with every Telltale title, the majority of the game comes down to conversations had with other characters. These conversations will leave a lasting mark as to how characters will respond to Rhys or Fiona in the future. I did find having conversations with the various characters found throughout this adventure to be much more fun than previous Telltale installments.
The humor found in Borderlands games transitioned well into TFTB, which results in the funniest story Telltale has concocted thus far. I had plenty of moments where I would literally bust out laughing from some character’s random response or action. For me to laugh as hard as I did with this game is a pretty rare occurrence and yet, there I was, laughing it up with each episode.
My gratitude extends out to the wonderful men and women who used their voices to bring these various characters to life. Their talent made each characters vibrant and not a dull moment was spent playing TFTB; I expected as much with a crew containing Laura Bailey, Troy Baker, Nolan North and plenty more. As such, I thoroughly enjoyed playing each episode and I have to admit– the pilot is still my favorite of them all.
As strange as this is going to sound, while I did enjoy the cast and crazy moments they were put into, I didn’t feel emotionally attached to any of the characters the way I was probably meant to. Some characters flirt with death and some even embrace it but during these emotion filled moments, my face remained a stone wall through it all. Why did this happen to me? I can’t really say for certain but I can probably guess that I viewed TFTB as too much of a comedy over horror (The Walking Dead) or drama (Wolf Among Us).
Those previous installments saw me tearing up over character deaths or tensing up during those gripping moments. However, this doesn’t take away from the good experience I had with the game, it just means my funny bone was tickled rather than having my heart ripped from my chest cavity.
Now, what kept this experience from being a great one came from the numerous technical issues I ran into throughout all episodes. As much as I enjoy playing games from Telltale, something needs to be done about the current engine being used. Every episode contained some problem or another; I experienced audio cut outs, FPS drops and moments of complete gameplay freeze. I even had to rest my PS3 entirely a few times during episodes 4&5.
The worst offender would be how badly the finale chugged along during it’s final portion. Having to reset my PS3 multiple times was bad enough but when I couldn’t get four seconds of smooth running gameplay during the final boss, I fell out of the experience immediately. What should have been an awesome final fight turned into an eye-straining choir I wanted no part of.
Of course, I’m no game designer, nor do I pretend to know what goes into designing but this kind of choppy gameplay can’t be normal. At first, I thought it was because I played on my PS3 and though I believe all games should run smoothly no matter the hardware, I was almost willing to accept this glitchy affair on a last gen system. That is, until I remembered playing Life Is Strange on the PS3 and encountered no incriminating issues such as audio lagging or major slowdowns during gameplay. One could argue how Dontnod had the support from Square Enix and I would slightly agree. So for the sake of not veering off course any more, I would just love to see Telltale improve their engine to avoid further issues before future games launch.
+ A hilarious story sure to tickle funny bones
+ The music selection goes along perfectly
+ Great work from the voice actors/actresses
– Audio glitching
– Big frame rate drops
– Choppy gameplay
While I may have sounded harsh concerning the game’s issues, I feel they are justified to the fullest. Even with my complaints, I still agree with a majority of people saying Tales From The Borderlands is a solid title. I enjoyed how each episode made me laugh in some form or another. For the people curious about the Vault Hunter business, I do suggest reading up on Borderlands 2′s story for a deeper understanding of the story here. When I get down to it, I don’t believe the game comes anywhere close to be being horrible or unplayable– An improvement to the engine or even a brand new one to make the future games run smoothly would make a lot of folks happy, including myself.
Pretty Decent Recommendation