Blick Tolkien reviews The Walking Dead – Survival Instinct

The Walking Dead - Survival Instinct — min., 2013
Written by Angel Gonzalez Jr./Chris Harvey/Drew Haworth/Matt Hohl/Taylor Langford/Morley Nelson/Robert Selitto/Oliver Wade
Directed by Angel Gonzalez Jr.
Language: English
My rating: ★★★★

…and bullets.

* * *

Game Premise:

The Dixon brothers navigate a walker plagued landscape helping others along the way they’ve found in their travels.

Review:

This is my first video game review even though it is not my first foray into the world of The Walking Dead. I decided to go with this one rather than the other Walking Dead gaming title because this one is a play through prequel based in the world of the television show. There are differing opinions on this title floating all over the web but I am not going to be supporting the opinion that you have to have received blunt force trauma to the head to enjoy this title. There seem to be two major complaints in reference to this game, those being graphics and that is it a first person shooter rather than a multiplayer RPG.

Speaking on the subject of graphics, I understand the disappointment as a person living in a world where video games have scenic sweeping landscapes rendered to perfection in titles such as the most recent Tomb Raider. God of War, Far Cry, and the last installment of the Metal Gear franchise. That being said, if you have time to stare and bitch about the environments, you must not be paying attention to the AI engine driven zombies that literally appear out of nowhere with no pattern of predictable movements, actions, or placement. Having played through sections of the game more than once, the zombie placement will vary. In the event you are killed and start a level over from scratch, you don’t have the luxury of knowing when you round a corner that there will be two zombies to your left and one to your right as you would with Resident Evil or most other rpg’s. Speaking of Resident Evil, even though this game is considered a first person shooter, it plays more like survival horror. Any fans of the Resident Evil games or titles from the Silent Hill franchise are definitely in for a treat by way of the nail biting, nerve wrecking jump scares that occur throughout each mission. Having grown up with Mario and Pac-Man being rendered in 8 bit pixelated blocks, I can appreciate the effort they put in with rendering the actual actors faces. However, I respect even more that their attention to detail focused more closely on the game play aspect rather than making the most photo realistic environments money could buy.

As for this being a first person shooter, I know that most first person games have shitty controls and aren’t very much fun after the second or third time around unless you are able to go online and play against real opponents. This breathes new life into a title that you’ve otherwise become bored with playing. The general assumption (which has good reason to be assumed) is that most first person shooters are war or hunting simulations. With games like Call of Duty or the Cabella Games, the FPS titles are geared more toward people that are into combat oriented games. The popular exception to this rule was the highly anticipated Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City which with its silky, cool, perfectly rendered environments, expansive maps, and fan based environments from the other titles in the Resident Evil franchise, this should have been a slam dunk for Capcom. Unfortunately, it blew harder than twelve cast iron prostitutes at the world’s largest orgy. The focus was more on making it look pretty than making it something that would be exciting and new to play through. Having talked about the game so far in generalities, I will now go into specifics.

The plot of the game is as follows: to get you oriented with the controls you start out playing as Darryl and Merle’s father on a routine hunting trip. After you are brutally killed (and this happens no matter what you do,) the gameplay switches to Darryl. Darryl’s mission is to find Merle and get someplace safe. To do so, he needs to gather supplies such as gas, food, medical supplies, and ammo. By getting all these supplies when scavenging through various open environments, you ensure you will have enough gas to drive to the next point on your map. As you get to each map marked location, you run into more people there whose sole purpose seems to be sending you on personal errands of theirs to rescue loved ones or recover items, and lastly send you packing to the next location. Eventually you run into your brother held up on a roof blitzed out of his mind and shooting at people with a sniper rifle. Being the douche that he is, he frequently leaves you to your own devices, refuses to help anyone else, and drags you into dire situations such as breaking into a place to get his stash in drugs, resulting in you leaving with a well whooped ass. This game, unlike Enter the Matrix, is not really a companion to the TV show even though It occurs in the world of the show. It fails to give a better understanding of the Dixon brothers or their motivations as it is a prequel. The game does end somewhat anti-climatically at a chopper while you mow down a relentless stream of zombies. After defending this chopper, Merle makes the decision for you and keeps you from boarding this plane because he saw the pilot may have been infected. Ending their missions in Atlanta, this is presumably where they join up with the survivors’ group lead by Shane merging this story and season one together.

There are a couple of nods to the TV show, some far more obvious than others. For those of you that like Easter eggs, you can hear the people at the helicopter talking about getting to a man named Jenner, who is the CDC scientist in season one, the bandana in Darryl’s back pocket. You see him acquire it from Anna Turner as they part ways as well. The more obvious thing is that apparently, Amy and Andrea’s parents are stumbled upon by Darryl during a mission so you finally do get a glimpse of what their father looks like and their mother, whom he had to put down at some point. Overall, the game isn’t bad, it’s just short for an RPG. Other than that, all this running around gets tiresome and if you happen to run out of gas between your departure point and the point marked on the map as your destination you’re thrown into a mandatory supply run where you must scavenge for more gas at the very least to continue. Out of 4 stars, I would rather give this a strong two rather than a weak three.

Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker voicing this game adds a lot of authenticity but the dialogue at points seems a bit stale, forced, and or flat out goofy given the situations they find themselves in. Hopefully the next game I’ll be reviewing should play at lot better because it seems to capture the essence of the graphic novels far better and there is a black guy in the lead role. Until next time, may all your games give you gore.

About Blick Tolkien

About Blick Tolkien: The bastard half brother of Zeb Carter, he grew up in Chicago's urban jungle, forced to be the victim of racial injustice and daily bullying until the day he saw Night of the Living Dead. the immersion into violence on film gave him the tools to externalize his hate and make the world a horror show for all his enemies. A card carrying member of the Black Panther party, he hates whitey and all forms of coonery including any and all Tyler Perry films. You have been warned. About Zeb Carter: The younger brother of Blick Tolkien, he used horror films as a way to open him self up to the social and story telling aspects of cinematic fear as well as his love of the silver screen. After seeing Gremlins at the drive in he was hooked. He also writes short fiction, has 2 daughters and a pack of animals that he is currently serves as the alpha male over. You can read his fiction at forums.drabblecast.org.
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