Tuesday 26 March 2013

The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct

For most of us the brand name speaks for itself, for those who have lived under a rock for the past 3 years The Walking Dead started as a comic which grew in fan base so quickly that it was developed into a TV series and now acts as one of American TV giant “AMC” flagship shows.  Set after the zombie apocalypse (Zom-pocalypse).

The story follows Daryl and Meryl Dixon in a prequel to their time in the TV series where the player takes on the role of Daryl the red neck crossbow wielding bad ass. 

Now that the synopsis has been covered unfortunately I should cover the game, which in passing sounds like an epic piece of gaming - a first person shooter with some role-play elements to keep the interest.  Though the role-play aspects have been done well the actual handling and graphics leave a lot to be desired.

Firstly there are the “walkers” or zombies to non-WD fans. The number of models used were so limited during my game play I resorted to naming them and counting off the kills of each person per level. The game engine seems to forget that an area has been cleared and entering a building or area you cleared mere minutes ago will often see new walkers roaming about.  Next we have the melee based combat, which in all essence is the key to making this game work since noise is the primary thing to attract walkers. It feels almost clunky and after a while makes the badass we all know and love feels like a teenager who failed to climb the rope in gym class. Running is almost as painful since the run time is limited to about 5 seconds before a water effect/sweat pours down the screen and you’re reduced to walking again.  Most of the game you will spend crouched sneaking about but be sure to check your corners twice, random spawns often end up happening when you least suspect it.

This leads on to my next issue with the game – The set piece walkers play dead, sitting or lying in place waiting, even gunshots don't wake these guys. Yet, the second you step close that snarling sound kicks in and you have a minimal amount of time to execute a quick melee attack to kill them in one hit before they stand up and can take a much heavier beating. While lead pipe or a machete can kill most enemies in one hit, these guys require at least 3 smacks before they finally die.

Should the situation arise (and it will) that you get overwhelmed and close to having your fleshed clawed from your body by multiple walkers you will find yourself in a quick time event which becomes tedious rather quickly in which you need to quickly move the right analogue stick into position to then launch a quick head stab while your life gets slowly witted down. Sounds okay? Well when you have more walkers the more times you have to do this in quick succession which loses its charm relatively fast.

Now after a lot of negativity let me tell you some positive points, the role play aspects are great, your inventory space is limited both on your person (10 unique items as standard though stackable) and your car (more on that shortly) so what you keep and what you leave becomes an issue sooner or later. There are 2 forms of health items, sports drinks (minor) and meals (major) and since regenerating health does not exist outside of ending a level.  Distraction items in the form of bottles and flares, as well as an array of shotguns, pistols, rifles, ammo, melee weapons and of course Daryl's signature crossbow and bolts. 
Survivors are a key element to the game, during your travels you will meet many people wanting a ride and although level wise they provide no support you do have the option to send these minions out to gather supplies for you each time you reach a destination to hunt for ether ammo, fuel or food, though this does come with the risk to their own health and potentially their death.
Each survivor will have their own traits, which will play towards your decision-making, their preferred weapons, if they are strong or weak, reckless or smart. These all will aid in your decision making of who gets that final seat in your luxurious transportation to the next area and again be sent off to find you more resources and who gets left behind to fend for themselves.

Next up is the choice of transport, every few levels you will find keys to a new ride which may be beneficial to trade up for or ignore since each car has a number of seats for your gathering monkeys as well as inventory space and rate at which it will drink your fuel supply. 
The next factor you have to consider is how your going to travel, I.e. Highways, streets or back roads, giving you a choice of high congestion (breakdowns), moderate or resource spots respectively.  Needless to say all these aspects lead to a lot of decision making to come which to be honest adds a refreshing mix to your usual bland FPS gaming.

If you’re an achievement hunter, which I will admit I am, this game doesn't cough up its points easily, and the full 1k will set you back a second play thanks to collectables which are on both sides of a choice you will make on where you wish for your crew of zombie fighting scavenger crew and yourself to set down next in hope of finding somewhere untouched by the wave of risen dead.

To be fair, the game has some really good qualities but feels rushed and forced out early to try and maximise sales off a franchise currently living in the spot light and it suffers for this all in all the only way I can sum it all up is Terminal reality (Developers) I'm not angry just disappointed.

Fans of the series its worth picking up for the joys of getting to play as Darly, live the choices of a zombie survival game which isn't just gun down everything and run to a safe room, but don't be expecting a game of the year award winning title. 


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