Tales From The Borderlands: Chapter 5

We had fun, didn’t we?
Tales from the Borderlands has ended with a bang after five lovely episodes. We’ve been menaced by Rakk hives, made deals with the Ghost of Handsome Jack, become Vault Hunters-in-Training and, frankly, left a lot of bloody mayhem in our wake.

The finale is the most oddly paced episode of the series, and yet manages to be the most exhilarating. We’ve spent the majority of the game in flashbacks, as Rhys and Fiona trudge through Pandora held at gunpoint by a mysterious stranger. The first half of episode five tidies up the flashbacks, with the last half finishing our heroes’ tale. Some spoilers below for those who haven’t played.

Episode Four ended with some pretty heavy shenanigans. Handsome Jack offers Rhys the chance to rule Hyperion (with Jack still living in Rhys’ cybernetics). You have the option of refusing, and Jack’s response, while ultimately leading to the same results in Episode 5, differ from crazed to furious. Regardless of your choice, he uploads himself into Hyperion’s system, and wants to make a more permanent move into Rhys’ body in a big ol’ robot skeleton. Rhys is understandably displeased. While Jack begins causing absolute mayhem aboard Hyperion, Fiona, Sasha, Gortys and Rhys try to get to the escape pods. Gortys, now ready to open a portal to a Vault, is taken by Vallory’s goons. Loader Bot (once again) helps to save the day, and the crew just barely escapes, completely destroying Hyperion in the process. We bid a fond farewell to Loader Bot, who sacrifices himself to save others aboard the ship.

This is the part where Tales makes a pretty huge couple of jumps. Rhys wanders through the wreckage of Hyperion as Handsome Jack gives a pretty sad speech about success and life. Realizing that Jack will never leave as long as he has his bionics, Rhys tears off his robot arm and rips his Echo Eye from its socket in a pretty gruesome fashion.

When Fiona lands, the Vault is already open and trouble is happening. A gigantic vault monster is wreaking absolute havoc, and Gortys (now gigantic) is pleading for death. As long as Gortys’ beacon remains active, the monster will hunt her down. After a (brief) stand-off with Vallory, Fiona and Sasha fire Vallory’s rocket launcher at Gortys, destroying their friend and closing the vault.

This ends the flashback portion of the game, and we cut to the captured Rhys and Fiona. It’s now clear that significant amounts of time have passed between their capture and the flashbacks. In a wonderful rapid-fire twist of events, Vaughn returns as a leader of a new colony and we discover the mysterious captor is actually Loader Bot, now attached to Handsome Jack’s mecha-skeleton. It’s revealed that he captured Rhys and Fiona to discover why they blew up Gortys, suspecting betrayal.

This leads to another time jump, but perhaps the most satisfying – Loader Bot wants to revive Gortys and destroy the Vault Monster. Your choices to date will matter the most here, as you’re asked to assemble a team of Vault Hunters to take down the monster. Almost every major character you’ve met along the way is up for hire, provided you haven’t pissed them off or killed them. If you’ve saved enough money, you can hire an elite vault hunter team. Sadly, I got the spendies and was unable to hire them.

The entire end battle is a terribly awesome Power Rangers/giant robot style battle, and the moves used are dependent entirely on the hunters you’ve chosen. This was probably the most weirdly satisfying parts of the entire game, and it’s apparent that a lot of love went into this segment.

While the finale of Tales has some of the most high-octane shenanigans that you’ll see in the five episode ride, the final note ends with a pretty hard cliffhanger. Rhys and Fiona’s whereabouts are left up in the air.

Given that we don’t yet have firm details on whatever’s next for the Borderlands franchise, I have to hope that it’ll be carried on in a nice way. We’ve grown to love these two characters over several hours of gameplay, and it’d be a shame to leave their journey without having some kind of actual resolution.

The PS3 version will display some choppiness and frame drops. The PC version was fluid and wonderful. This is one of TTG’s finest works to date, and I’d highly recommend it to Borderlands fans and newcomers in a heartbeat.