Monday, October 14, 2013

Review: The Walking Dead

Now how's this for a polarized review. One of the best stories in recent gaming history, (perhaps since Full Throttle), meets one of the worst conversions since World Cup 90. I Played the first Chapter on Xbox but held off the rest for the Vita version, which is a shame. And, if you've played it through on another format, then move on by, there's little to see here.

The story, sees convicted murderer Lee sent on his way down a road full of harrowing choices, stark realities, gruesome discoveries and general zombie ickiness. Across five chapters of rapid-paced decision making, quick-time events and life-or-death moments, you need to lead the people you meet to safety, or at least to make it through to see another dawn.

Its not only the zombies that are causing problems, the frailties of a fractured society are dragged to the surface in grim juxtaposition to the zombie's simple need for brains. I won't spoil any details (so this is a really short review), but it shocks, stuns and brings emotional response like few games will as you choose who lives, dies or suffers due to your choices. The end particularly can make for traumatic playing... with an audience conditioned to last-minute heroism, deus ex machina interventions and other gimmicks, this is as close to hopelessness as its likely you'll feel in a game.

All of which mastery, painted in a world-of-brown palette and broad brush, but effective, charactisation, with some fun zombie cliches thrown in, is so nearly ruined by a poor conversion from the big screen versions. Scenes are broken or are glitched, graphics appear incomplete, with weapons missing, horrible pauses mean you can die without reason, or are just left hanging, wondering if something is broken.

So, to cut a short story shorter. Buy this game, but not on the Vita, sure it comes with the 400 Days extra episode (more of a series of vignettes than a real story), but its not worth ruinous effect the shoddy conversion has on the experience.

With Season 2 on the way soon (and a GotY edition that matches this offering for consoles), hopefully the developers will fix the broken engine before a Vita release. Actually reading through some forums, it seems most versions are borked in some way. So perhaps the Vita version isn't so uniquely gimped.

Score: 8/10 (for another format which is slightly less glitchy, 7/10 for the Vita version - upgraded a point since I found out most other versions are pretty ropey too)
More Reviews
Price: £14.99 (PSN)
Telltale Games
File size 2.3GB
Progress: Braaaaiiiinnnnns!

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