The Walking Dead – Review (PS3)

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I watched the first TV series of The Walking Dead and really enjoyed it. I liked Telltale Games ‘Back To The Future‘ games but their form has been patchy (their Jurassic Park game was widely panned) so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this game.

Firstly this *isn’t* based on the TV series although it does take place in the same Walking Dead universe as the comics which the TV show is based on. Slightly confusing but the main thing is that this is an entirely different set of characters.

You play as Lee Everett, a university professor. As the game opens you are in the back of the Sheriff’s car on your way to prison for the murder of your wife’s lover. Thankfully for Lee the zombie apocalypse comes at just the right time and you end up having to escape from the cop car to survive.

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Soon afterwards Lee meets a 9-year-old girl, Clementine, who is alone because her parents are out of town and her babysitter… well I won’t say any more 🙂 . Lee takes her under his wing and they try to get somewhere safe and work out what the hell is going on.

The Walking Dead is a point and click adventure game, which means while you’ll have some freedom of movement you’re limited to small areas and different object to interact with.

Mainly you’ll be talking to the other characters and learning about the group of people you’ve ended up banded together with. And this is where the game shines.

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Firstly it’s a cast of well written and acted characters. And secondly the writers aren’t afraid to put you in some very difficult situations, usually ending in you having to make a choice that will alienate one of the group. It’s tense stuff and because most the choices have a timer running down, you’ll often feel a sense of panic because you’re being forced to make a call on something quickly when you’d love more time to think it over.

The game has lots of different ways to play out, although the overall narrative remains the same regardless of how you play. At the end of each episode you also get a breakdown of what percentage of other players made the same choices as you. This is a real eye opener at times! Certainly on one choice I presumed everyone would do the same only to discover at the end of the episode I was in a 12% minority!

The biggest compliment I can pay the game is that Clementine is a believable representation of a child. I’ve never seen a child character in a game before that had so many of the nuances and speech patterns of a real child. And I strongly believe that is the reason so many people had such a strong emotional reaction to this game.

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Telltale set up the relationship between Lee and Clementine in an identical way to the relationship you have when you have your own child in real life. What I mean by that is that when you bring home your newborn child it can’t fend for itself. It needs your help and support until it becomes strong enough to start looking after itself. Of course the real life bond is much more than can be conveyed in a game but I genuinely believe Telltale have given a lot of people a little taste of what being a parent is like. If you don’t believe me (and have finished the game – beware spoilers if not) check out the huge amounts of #ForClementine hashtags on Twitter!

The game was released in episode format over the course of months rather than weeks. I picked up the bundle before Christmas and I’d recommend doing the same at this stage – I believe the first episode is available free as a demo. If you haven’t played it you should definitely check it out. I would’ve loved to have experienced it spread out, for season two I will do just that.

The Walking Dead isn’t perfect. I encountered a glitch at one stage whereby I couldn’t continue the game. My character essentially fell through the train he was supposed to be on every time I went through a specific door. Thankfully a reset and reload solved the problem but I’ve heard of some people having other problems as well. Nothing major though and when the story is this good it’s easy to forgive the odd issue here and there.

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Overall, I can’t praise this game enough. It’s a different style of game to the stuff I would usually play but through the excellent characters and writing, Telltale have delivered an emotionally charged and superbly crafted story that will likely leave you with a lot more emotional baggage than when you started. Play it. Now.

Rating: 10/10

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Back To The Future (Episode 1) – Review (PS3)

When I first heard a new Back To The Future game was on the way I was overjoyed as I love the film series. That joy was tempered when I discovered it was to be a ‘point and click’ adventure game.

I’m just not a fan of the genre. It has pretty much passed me by for the most part and what I did play wasn’t great.

However I found myself pleasantly surprised.

Firstly I think a big part of my enjoyment was tied directly to the films so if you don’t have that frame of reference I’m not sure I’d recommend this game to you,

Taking place in an alternate timeline to the first film, we find the test run of the DeLorean doesn’t go as expected. Six months later it’s 1986 and we take control of Marty, who is trying to come to terms with the fact that Doc is still lost in time somewhere.

This is a traditional point and click adventure in which you interact with your environment to solve puzzles and uncover the story by talking to other characters.

Telltale Games are well known for the quality of their titles in this genre and the production values here are pretty high. Christopher Lloyd is on board to voice Doc Brown and A.J Loscasio does a great job as Marty McFly in the absence of Michael J. Fox.

While I haven’t gotten much enjoyment out of these types of games in the past, I thoroughly enjoyed Back To The Future. This is part 1 of 5 and clocks in at around the 2 hour mark.

If you like point and click games or Back To The Future then I’d strongly recommend picking this up – if you’re unsure I believe there is a demo up on the PSN, give it a try.

Rating: 7/10

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