|System: PS3, Xbox 360, PC|
|Release: December 17, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, and Strong Language|
Telltale once again knocks character design out of the park with this new band of survivors. They all feel like living breathing people, each with their own morals and values. There’s a paranoid doctor, a hardened hunter, his somewhat hippie son, a couple ready to have a baby, a soft spoken man who gets overshadowed by the group, and even a naive girl who has been sheltered from the harsh realities of the zombie apocalypse. As Clem, you can choose to try and befriend these new people, use them, or keep them at a distance, but no matter what you won’t please all of them, and some of them are going to have to die. That’s just how the zombie apocalypse works.
There is one unfortunate hitch in the story, however, and that’s a small lack of immersion. You see, in season 1 Lee Everett came to serve as an avatar for your own morals and choices. As the game progresses, Lee became you. He made choices that you would have made. He did things that you would have done. Clementine, however, is not you. She is a character that you already interacted with in season 1. As a result, you don’t really make decisions based on how you would react, but rather on how you think Clementine would react. It’s a perfectly valid way to play the game, but it just doesn’t feel quite as personal as season 1 did.
In addition, the biggest flaw with season 2 is its stability. When the game starts, it loads up your season 1 save file, or at least it tries. Even though I had a fully completed season 1 game, season 2 would not import my file. I fiddled with it for hours trying to get it to detect the complete game that I can very obviously see if I loaded up season 1, but to no avail. I had to start season 2 with randomly generated choices, which kind of made everything I did in season 1 and 400 Days completely pointless.
The game is unstable in other ways as well. Character models would spaz out sometimes if they got to close walls. At one point, in the middle of a quick time event, my cursor completely disappeared and I needed to reload the game to make it appear again. Heck, the game flat out crashed right before the closing credit scene, which made me play the last section of the game twice. Expect more than a few bugs over the course of Clem’s story.
Despite its flaws, The Walking Dead: season 2: Episode 1 is still an outstanding game. It still makes you feel for its characters in ways no other game on the market does. It’s still one of the best examples of games as art our industry has to offer. In fact, this is perhaps the best piece of zombie fiction available right now. Yes, better than World War Z. Yes, better than Night of the Living Dead. If you are a fan of zombie fiction in general, you owe it to yourself to play this game.
Angelo M. D’Argenio
Date: December 18, 2013