Should Walker away from it

by Shane Dillon
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ANOTHER Walking Dead game? Deja-vu for readers, or perhaps I should say, zombie-view.

Definitely not to be confused with the acclaimed, multi-award-winning Telltale 2012 game,

The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct (TWD:SI) is developer Terminal Reality’s stab at taking a bite at some of the zombie apocalypse fun, with this cross-platform title.

Unfortunately, it’s more of a shot in the foot than a shot in the arm for gamers, as I’ll get to.

But first, let’s examine the pedigree of the game, before the game’s zombies (Walkers) stroll, stagger and lurch into view…

Based on the same setting as the cult hit TV show of the same name, TWD:SI is a prequel, using the popular redneck brothers from the show, Daryl Dixon and his tough-nut big bro, Merle (both voiced by their actors, Norman Reedus and the incomparable Michael Rooker, respectively).

While TWD has been presented by other developers as, say, a complex adventure story, or a Facebook social strategy game, amongst others, here we’re presented with a marginally innovative first-person shooter.

After all, creeping around a zombie-infested world from a FPS viewpoint should be a natural fit, right? Sadly for Daryl and Merle, the Dixon boys’ world has a lot more problems than just zombies to contend with.

Obstensibly following the brother’s attempts to survive in an apocalyptic America (in the period before they would meet the fellow survivors at the start of the first series of the hit TV  show), TWD:SI follows primarily Daryl, aided by Merle, as they scavenge resources, explore, press forward and occasionally meet other survivors, all the while trying to avoid – or eliminate – Walkers.

With familiar scavenge/escort/eliminate missions to undertake, and with slight – I said, slight – freedom in how to approach situations, it’s a standard FPS that has a familiar resonance with the show.

Stay silent, don’t attract lots of Walkers, distract them with noises – Daryl and Merle (and you) know the score.

Fans will certainly appreciate some of these efforts that Terminal Reality have taken to capture the essence of the characters, and the show’s general setting.

Unfortunately, the game’s problems are obvious from the get-go.

Frankly, it’s one of the most visually unappealing titles I’ve seen in a while. Uninspiring environments. Lifeless textures (no pun intended). That’ll-do levels of animation and character design.

And, worst of all, even for a game primarily built around zombies, the game’s AI is particularly brainless, with danger tending to come from clumsily implemented strength-of-number scenarios rather than expressly from the enemies themselves.

Considering the stunning games we’ve been treated to recently – and while games certainly don’t need amazing graphics to impress, by any means – it’s very hard not to see TWD:SI as a cheap-and-not-so-cheerful rush job.

When presented with such an underwhelming title – and one that looks like it was bashed out several years ago, I might add – it’s hard not to shrug at yet another missed opportunity to make a great film/TV show tie-in with more than just a rudimentary lick of paint over the game.

Much like the show’s and game’s Walkers, this is one to avoid …

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