Thursday, November 27, 2014

Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 1: Zer0 Sum review

    "I shall name my firstborn child, Loader-Bot."

    Okay, that was just ****ing awesome. No, seriously, this is probably the best Telltale game yet and I think The Walking Dead is the best video game of all time. The two can't really be compared aside from structure, though, because The Walking Dead was a tragic drama while this is a action-adventure comedy.

    Still, I'm grinning from ear-to-ear.

Loader-Bot died for my sins.
    After some iffy games, this was the perfect antidote to my blahs. The episode is hilarious from start to finish, exciting, well-written, and entertaining. I loved the characters too. Laura Baily is already one of my favorite voice actresses being both Jaina Proudmoore (World of Warcraft), Chun-Li (Streetfighter IV), and Serena (Skyrim).

    I can now officially add Fiona to the list as she is the classiest gal on Pandora. Troy Baker (Bioshock: Infinite, The Last of Us) is somewhat overexposed in recent years but his Rhys is a great character too. Rhys is a smarmy, self-satisfied, and jerkish Hyperion middle-manager but he has a heart where Handsome Jack had a black hole. Watching these two play off each other and their surrogate family-in-the-making is great.

I liked Rhys' developing relationship with Sasha. That was unexpected, since I was shipping him and Fiona.
    Telltale manages to bring Borderlands' Pandora alive in a way which was hinted at by Borderlands 2 but never really got the chance to be. We get a sense of how people live on the planet (badly), how desperate they are (very), and what they think of the Hyperion executives living above them (very little).  The post-apocalypse Space Western vibe to the place has never been more vibrant and alive, showing how much potential the setting is.

    Borderlands is a series which thrives on memes and in-jokes but Telltale manages to derive plenty of humor from the dog-eat-dog world around our characters. Whether you live on the space-station Helios or in the deserts around Sanctuary, everyone is betraying everyone.

    So, the protagonists are given permission to do the same!

Our heroes are a collection of lovable cowards trying to survive very dangerous situations.
    The premise is Rhys and Fiona have been captured by an unnamed bandit in the middle of the desert. Said bandit wants to know how they got there, so both characters get to tell their side of the story. Rhys is out to steal a Vault Key from his boss and a local crime lord in hopes of propelling himself to the top of the Hyperion corporation food chain. Fiona is trying to make one last "big con" so she can get off Pandora.

    With their best friend and sister, respectively, depending on them, the two end up digging themselves a very deep hole. By the end of the episode, they'll be after a Vault ''and'', potentially, in debt to the tune of ten million of Hyperion's hard-stolen dollars.

    The supporting cast is amazing, too, with Sasha and Vaughn being some of the most likable sidekicks I can remember. I'm more fond of Sasha than Vaughn but that's not for lack of trying by the latter. The character of Shade, who was one of the most loathed in the franchise, somehow becomes highly entertaining.

    The father-daughter relationship between Felix and his daughters was touching as well as sad. I even like the absolutely insane antics of Zer0 and Bossanova, who show what it's like to be in the world's second-most-popular sci-fi shooter series from the perspective of civilians.

I fell a little in love with Fiona. In an entirely not-creepy, non-weird, wife-approved way.
    One thing which surprised me is the amount of action in the game. It's not a shooter like the Gearbox Borderlands games but it's got plenty of people shooting at our protagonists. There's more running, dodging, and fleeing in this game than a season of Scooby Doo. My favorite action scene was a Death Race-style, well, death race, which takes place in a bandit-filled mining platform ruled by a stereo-obsessed warlord.

    The game has some noticeable flaws, though, which I'm overlooking because of the warm glow I get from playing it. The game is glitchier than Telltale's usual fair. Loading times are considerable, sometimes I had to restart, and the last part of the game had dubstep music playing over the conversations. I'm not pleased with that and hope Telltale will fix them soon. This game is too good to be left unpatched. The beginning is a bit slow with Patrick Warburton's Hugo Vasquez being an uninteresting and unoriginal villain, the one fly in a very creamy ointment.

    In conclusion, buy this whether you're a fan of Borderlands or Telltale or both. It's as close to a Firefly game as you're probably ever going to get and a lot funnier.


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