A truly epic experience. . .
The Walking Dead has been getting alot of buzz leading right up to its retail release. It’s being declared “Game of the Year for 2012″ from Spike Awards and various other online media outlets and publications. Now, for me, I try not to follow the crowd and just say “Hey, this is the greatest game ever” without trying it out myself. Needless to say, I got the opportunity to and well. . .let’s just throw it into discussion.
You start off as a man named Lee Everett, a former History Professor who taught at the University of Georgia and a Native of Macon who killed a state senator for sleeping with his wife. One can’t fault the man for doing that right? Right, so you start the game in a police car.. everything sounds about typical. Seems your life is signed away until that golden moment when the police car crashes. You hear a bunch of sounds about what your going to be facing sooner rather than later. Not trying to place any spoilers (well.. maybe this one) You basically fight off your first set of walkers. As you progress through the game, you very quickly will learn that the world you once knew is going to hell in a hand-basket.
Eventually you won’t be alone for long, as you’ll come upon a few survivors along the way who, like you, are just trying to find a way out. The very first Survivor you will meet will be a young girl by the name of Clementine. A lot of your decisions will be based around this girl, as she right along with you are trying to make sense of whats going on and how to get out of it. You will meet a set of survivors along the way, and based on the decisions you make will determine who will be left. Don’t take this the wrong way. as I’m sure you’ve heard “Your decisions will have an impact on the rest of the adventure.” The Walking Dead is serious — since the decisions you make really does influence how things pan out throughout the entire game. If someone dies in one of the episodes, you won’t see them in the rest of the game. Unless of course they become walkers themselves.
That’s one of the biggest highlights: your decisions actually making a direct impact in the game. A lot of other games promise that, but very few have a significant influence to the degree seen in The Walking Dead. There’s never really much of a dull moment (apart when I got stuck in some places), because when stuff is going down, you only have but a few seconds to make something happen. The characters you’ll meet will come from all walks of life, some who will like you (depending on decisions), and some that will hate you (also based on your decisions).
This isn’t your typical zombie game where you will run-and-gun your way (see: recent Resident Evil 6, Call of Duty Zombie modes, Left 4 Dead, Dead Island, etc), This is about as close as being realistic should a zombie apocalypse ever break out. Food and water are scarce at best, even weapons, ammo, electricity and other vital resources are practically non-existant, and occurrences to secure shelter are equally rare. This creates some some nail-biting moments as the rate of walkers multiply at an alarming rate and the number of survivors just keep on dwindling.
You’ll experience this type of sensation often, but your quick wits and the drive to keep moving will keep you and as many people you can, alive. After you finish an episode, you always want to go to the next one to see what happens next. Thankfully, I got to experience it all in one shot, whereas before they released a disc-based version, you literally had wait about a month before the next release was available.There’s a total of five episodes to explore, each requiring roughly under 2 hours each to complete. And yes, fortunately there’s a respectable degree of replaybility since every decision you make (or don’t make) leads to an entirely different outcome with every new game session.
There are some things, however that I didn’t care much for. For starters, there’s a random frequency of framerate issues that arise now and again. This would usually happen during a intense scene and I just died because the framerate decides to magically drop on me as I struggle to hold onto dear life from the zombie epidemic. Then my other concern was having to start over. I had actually purchased the first two episodes before it went the on-disc equivalents became avaialble. I figured: this won’t be bad — I could pick up where I left off.
Oh no. . .
Instead of starting off on Episode Three, the game magically reset itself and I found myself starting right from the beginning. I am not sure how or why that happened, but it left me so outraged that I found it difficult to muster up the incentive and play later that night. Fortunately, this issue never showed its head again.
Even though this game does have a few minor problems, they’re not significant enough to impede your ability to complete the game from start to finish. I won’t spoil the events of the final episode, but I will say, that it moved me emotionally. I’ll even go as far to say in this review that I shed some tears on the ending. Very few games tend to create a connection that moved me like The Walking Dead. For all the accolades Telltale Games’ latest production has garnered from various sources, I definitely concur with the nominations – Game of the Year is very fitting for this title. It succeeded with introducing a fresh gaming sensation that isn’t commonly seen in today’s crop of releases on the market. Telltale Games has done a remarkable job and definitely set the bar in terms of story direction, something that other companies should take a few cues to step up the caliber of their own productions slated for the near future.