Saturday, 3 November 2012

The Walking Dead: Episode 1: A New Day

I wasn’t surprised to hear of a video game adaptation to Rob-ert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, but I was curious to see how the whole adventure route would work in this universe. Over time, our minds have been accustomed to mowing down hordes of zombies, but in hindsight, I’m glad Telltale Games went with such a different approach. Not only does this lend the game a distinct personality, but it can stay true to the source matter without being labeled a Left4Dead clone.If you’ve read the comics or have seen the TV show, you know what the basic set up is. Zombies have overrun most of America and a rag tag bunch of survivors must do whatever it takes to stay alive. The comics tread a very dark path by highlighting some truly unspeakable acts performed not by the undead but by humans themselves against other liv-ing people. It goes to show how low humanity can sink when the brown stuff really hits the fan. The game’s tone isn’t quite there yet, but I sensed glimpses of it in this episode. We’re guessing copious amounts of nastiness will ensue in the coming episodes.
Fans of the comic/show may be disappointed to know that Telltale Games have gone with a completely new roster of sur-vivors for the game, who will meet characters from the comics now and then. You play as Lee Everett, a seemingly normal sort of guy, who hides a dark secret. On route to the police station (that’s the part where his past comes into play), his ride gets wrecked by a couple of lumbering corpses, and so begins his journey as well as a new lease on life. He soon encounters a little girl, takes her under his protective wing, and heads out to meet other survivors. Normally, I’d have a problem with children in video games because they’re annoying or just plain cocky. Clementine, on the other hand, is a well mannered, scared little girl, who’s just trying to wrap her little mind around all this madness. In that respect, the game does a commendable job in making you feel for certain characters. That is, in large part, thanks to some solid voice acting.Like I mentioned earlier, The Walking Dead takes the adven-ture route, but it isn’t the traditional point-and-click variety. You control Lee using the WASD keys (on your PC), but the camera isn’t fixed behind him like a third-person game. There are static cameras spread out through every level and as you move through it, the camera angles keep changing. To explore or interact with the environ-ment, you simply hover your mouse over certain objects and chose the option you desire (like opening a door).
While this set up does work, Lee’s movements felt a bit off especially, with the keyboard. Also, the limited camera con-trol can be cumbersome, especially when you’re searching for something small like a key. The game is also quite slow, with heavy emphasis on character development, just like the com-ics. If you’re expecting to blast zombies with reckless abandon, you’re clearly playing the wrong game. The Walking Dead is a decent looking title and borrows the cel shaded look you’ve seen in games like Borderlands. This is kind of an odd art style choice for such a game because it tends to make everything look bright and cheerful. However, when it comes to gore, the game doesn’t hold back. You’ll see the undead tear through humans, gorging on their intestines with gusto, and Lee himself is capable of going completely mental on them with an axe or a hammer. And it isn’t pretty.
Telltale have decided to take the episodic route, so instead of one eight hour game, you get five episodes spanning roughly two hours each. However, each episode will offer players a sig-nificant amount of replayability as you’re forced to make cer-tain choices throughout the game. So you can always go back and chose the other option. This will change the outcome of the story as most of them include saving X or Y.
As a fan of the comics, I thoroughly enjoyed the game. Even though I never got to play as Rick Grimes or punch Lori in the face, I’m happy with the way the story is unfolding. I’m guessing this game also felt a bit slow because it was the first episode, setting players up for a rollercoaster ride that’s about to follow in true Kirkman style. If you enjoy the show or the comics, this is a must-buy. Even if you’re new to this franchise, we suggest you give it a shot as it a refreshing change of pace from the usual brain dead bloodbath associated with the genre


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