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Walking Dead Survival Instinct: Doesn’t Have Any of Its Own
Once the trailer released, it was very easy to see that The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct probably wasn’t going to win any awards. It was also pretty easy to compare what we saw to the amazing Telltale Game’s version. The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct has major issues, ones that we should have realized. When the gameplay trailer was first released a few months ago, there were signs of problems. Visible screen tearing, strange zombie behavior and problematic street combat. It reeked of a cash grab, one that was trying to profit off of previous successes. However, Activision went out of their way to assure us that The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct was better than it seemed, that it would match the show even closer and that the trailer was deceiving. In this case though, it’s very easy to say the game and the trailer match perfectly.
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is a first person shooter that bumbles along. The story is simple. It takes place before the show from the perspective of the Dixon brothers, Daryl and Merle. Merle’s gone missing, so it’s up to Daryl to find him. There’s a bit of emotion in the beginning when something shocking happens. After that you just stop caring and the plot trudges along. You go through the motions, waiting for something interesting to happen. For a game that is supposed to make you feel connected to the show, I disconnected. I couldn’t wait for it to be over, and even if it’s just a zombie adventure you should feel something. Once killing zombies becomes a chore, you’ve got problems.
There’s a lot of grinding in The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. One of the main selling points of the game is the survival. Scrounging around and conserving supplies. But it’s tedious at best. You spend a lot of time walking from point A to point B on the map grabbing fuel to keep moving. And if you’re lucky, you might just get to take on the undead. And I’m not talking about the fun way, like running over zombies. The game doesn’t give you that option. Instead of allowing you to drive from destination to destination, the game takes you from point to point. The only choice you have, the only Terminal Reality gives you, is letting you choose the point. This has some kind of strategy because there are consequences for that choice. But its lather rinse repeat for the most part. Go on the road, get ammo and fuel, maybe kill a zombie, and on and on it goes.
You’re not alone though on the incredibly long and annoying road. In an attempt to get you to connect with it The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct bites off the superior Telltale Games’ version by introducing you to other survivors, all who end up being useless burdens. You’re more in control of them though. You can send them off on missions, but they’ll usually fail to either collect what is you need or they die. It’s just easier to do it yourself. More than likely you’ll end up not caring about any of them. Not even Daryl. There is no Clementine here, no one that you care for or want to protect.
And then there are the zombies. There aren’t that many variations and they behave strangely. They go from hyper aware to very stupid. One second you’re shooting from pretty far away and suddenly there is a horde all over you. But then there are the times that you can just walk right up to them and it’s like you’re not even there.
But that’s par for the course in The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. Guns don’t really work that well, you’ll miss a lot and in a first person shooter that’s almost inexcusable. Even when you have them in scope shots either go right by them or take forever to hit them. Melee weapons are far more reliable, but eventually even the hitting gets boring. You just hit them over and over again and there is very little variation. If there is a change it results only when a zombie grabs you forcing you into a quick time event where you need to press right trigger for the kill. But that’s not exactly fun, either.
There’s no incentive for doing well, no bonus rounds, no great weapons, and for some reason no multiplayer. Unless you pre-ordered the game. I mean who cares about multiplayer anymore, it’s not like some games are renowned for it.
And the graphics, well they’re nothing to exclaim over, either. Compared to Call of Duty, the graphics for The Walking Dead: Survivor Instinct are a big step down. There are major limitations in the level design, and the character renders are bland. Only Merle and Daryl stand out, and that’s because their modeled after the voice actors, Norman Reedus and Michael Rooke. They are a treat to listen to, it’s just too bad that doesn’t extend to the rest of the cast.
I understand what Terminal Reality was going for with The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. It’s supposed be a survival game at all costs, with a little human interaction combined with it. One of the central themes is keeping your humanity while doing what must be done to survive, but this game doesn’t even have a soul to keep. The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is repetitive and stale, the only real tie-in being the name and two characters. If you love The Walking Dead, then I highly recommend Telltale Games’ adaptation. This game is just like a zombie, lumbering, waiting for someone to put it down.
(Note: The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct was reviewed after 14 hours of gameplay on the Xbox 360 and is also available on the PlayStation3, Wii U, and PC. This copy was purchased by the reviewer.)