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The Walking Dead Game: A Review
Survival horror and anything in the first person is not my specialty. However, after getting a dose of the addicting Walking Dead series, my curiosity got the better of me. I rounded up three others with an obsession level that matched mine and decided to tackle the game together. Although the game gets it's charm from surprise undead attacks and split second decisions, I must admit that we took on the task a little differently. As we were expected to make decisions, we paused the game and discussed each situation until we could agree on an answer or response. What's the big deal you ask? Well everything from the things you say to the way you act effect the future progression of the story. A split second decision made in the first episode could dictate which characters die in the third one. Call it cheating if you like, but some decisions one person shouldn't have to make alone.
You play the game through they eyes of Lee Everett, a convicted criminal on his way to prison when the officer escorting him suddenly crashes into something that jumps into the middle of the road. As the car spirals into a near by forest, the driver is killed, but Lee takes the opportunity to escape. To his horror, he finds himself trapped by members of the undead. As Lee fights his way to safety, he meets Clementine, a little girl who has been hiding in hopes her parents will return to rescue her. Lee realizes the odds are slim and takes her under his wing until the world regains some sanity.
The story is by far the best part of the game. You are so involved from the get go, that it will quickly suck you in. It is an incredibly gruesome story and will test everything that you thought you knew about yourself. I realized that I put those I care about above the others in the group I was traveling with. The ending of the game is gut wrenching. Although I knew what the outcome would be, I was still moved. The Walking Dead is by far one of the most emotionally charged games that I've ever played. In fact, the last game I was moved by, Final Fantasy 7, couldn't hold a candle to the tragic story of Lee and Clementine.
The cast has a wide variety of characters which is refreshing. Despite where they fall on your love/hate spectrum, they all have something endearing about them. One character in particular, Kenny, I grew to really dislike with a passion, even though I understood why he made the decisions he did. The voice acting won some major points by being absolutely spot on. Voices matched characters and conveyed emotions expertly.
Many people say that the graphics are under-par, but I thought that they were superb. I agree that the characters could look flat, but it also gives the impression that I'm flipping through a comic book.
The controls are the one aspect that hold the game back. Their tendency to freeze, resulting in a character with choppy or blocky movements and is often clunky at best. Aiming and shooting moves very slowly, which led to my demise more than once.
As great as the cast and storyline is, there are a few issues that I have to call out.
First off, the game is not very long. Without interruptions, it could be beaten in one sitting. It took my group about a week to finish as we only played a few hours each night after the kids went to bed. It's rated M, so children should definitely not be watching! I think the biggest complaint I have is that the replay value is moderately low. It seems that the final ending is the same no matter how you progress, so I felt no interest in playing a second time through, choosing the opposite choices along the way. If there were some expansion packs, a difficulty setting or even being able to play through a different character would breathe new life into the game. The only other big issue I had was with the split second decisions. I recognize the fact that the game is trying to make it seem like you're inside the game, but a few extra seconds to read all the options would be nice. Sometimes I was only able to read through two options before the clock ticked out.
So, is the game worthy of all the hype surrounding it? Absolutely! Yes the game has it's flaws, but it is an incredibly intense experience. There are a lot of games out there that could take a few lessons from The Walking Dead. Even if this isn't the type of game you usually play, the emotional sucker punch is something that everyone should experience at least once.
The XBOX 360 version of the reviewed game.