There is no short supply of Walking Dead products out there these days. The real problem is sorting out the quality from the shit when it comes to America’s favorite zombie series. I seem to find a lot more disappointment in the world of the Walking Dead than I did when it was that little comic series Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore were putting together. McFarlane dropped the ball tremendously with their overpriced Happy Meal (Happy Meal is not accurate, but they are really bad) quality toys. I find the cast to the television show to be completely unlikable and the pacing is terrible. I really fell off the comic after Carl got shot and it feels like the series is winding down at this point anyway.
So after shitting on anything Walking Dead related I want to come out and say The Walking Dead video game from Tell Tale Games is actually a pretty solid adventure/story game.
Tell Tale continues its tradition of breaking their games up by episodes, Walking Dead will have a total of five episodes when all is said and done. The price is pretty good as well, I bought my copy off Steam and it was $25 flat for all the episodes. I believe the PS3 is charging $20 for the set, and Xbox 360 is charging 400 MS points per episode. So you will be paying about four to five dollars per episode.
I had some anxiety about how the game could turn out after playing Tell Tale’s Jurassic Park game. Jurassic Park relied very heavily on twitchy quick time events to the point where I just became annoyed with it and put it down unfinished. Like the comic series, the game focuses on the interaction of the characters with each other and the choices you make with them. The story is very dependent on the choices you make with your character. They give you a pretty good range of responses for any given situation so you can shape your character any way you want.
While they boast that the story will completely change due to your choices, there are some limitations to this as they have to move the story along. For example you will never make a choice that will cause you to just stay at Hershel’s farm forever. When it comes down to trying to save either his son or the little boy on the tractor, the same person is going to die both times but the supporting cast will act differently towards you depending on your actions. I think most people expect this but I just want to put it out there as a warning, this is not Stalker the cel-shaded adventure game. There is one choice that will carry over into the next episode where you have to choose a person to save … I won’t give it away but I am curious as to how long that person will last in the series seeing as how they need two different timelines.
The setting will be very familiar to a person who has fond memories of the early comic book series’ issues. It takes place just as the zombie outbreak is happening, around this time Rick is still in a coma lying on a hospital gurney. Our protagonist, Lee, is being escorted to jail by an elder police officer. The scene acts as a bit of a tutorial to the game and ultimately sets up the story. There ends up being a really quick reaction scene where an undead is walking across the road and you have four choices of what to say … I said “Watch Out!” but the cop hit the guy and drove off the road. The nice thing about this choice system is that it gives me a little motivation to go back and see what the other choices could lead to. Perhaps he swerves to miss the guy, and gets out and is attacked? I guess I will have to find out next play through.
This is another advantage of this episodic system, the episodes are fairly short. I cleared the first episode in about two hours. I’m not sure when the next one will drop, but if I do get curious it wouldn’t be a huge undertaking to go back and try the episode again … after all, I am sure I missed something. I wouldn’t mind getting in better graces with Hershel as well. The game offers you three save slots, so you can go back and redo things without losing your “main” save. Another cool feature is that it tracks your decisions and then at the end of the chapter it compares your choices to everyone elses … minor spoiler if you look at the next image, but it’s fairly vague:
The game has a good bit of fan service in it as well seeing as how I have run into two characters and a location from the comic already in the first episode. We spend a night sleeping in Hershel’s barn, then the next day he kicks us out after one of his sons gets eaten by a zombie. We then run into Glenn holed up in a convenience store in the city … we are then sent on a mission to protect him and eventually see him off to Atlanta where he meets Rick.
Tell Tale went with a really nice cel shading look for the game. Being a comic, the look makes sense as the backgrounds all look hand drawn. If you have ever played Borderlands it is a very similar style and works really well for this game. It looks really good at high resolutions, although there will be times where more detailed objects like zombie parts look a bit pieced together, but on the whole it’s really solid. One thing I noticed about both this and Jurassic Park is that for some reason they start me off at a really low resolution that I needed to adjust before I started. At least with this game I didn’t have to confirm every resolution change so it wasn’t really a problem.
Overall the game so far is great. Once you complete the first chapter they give you a big cinematic preview of the next one titled: Starved For Help. Much like the comic book it is based off of, the characters think they have found security but it only gets worse for them. I have high hopes for the series, as a guy who has really burned out on the comic series it is kind of nice to go back to those roots that made it so good originally. I recomend Walking Dead for anyone who enjoys a good adventure game.
The Walking Dead video game is available for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3. You can purchase it directly from Tell Tale if you so wish, they have some nice deals going at the moment.
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