GAME NAME: The Walking Dead: Episode 3 – Long Road Ahead
DEVELOPER(S): Telltale Games
PUBLISHER(S): Telltale Games
PLATFORM(S): Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC, Mac, iOS
RELEASE DATE(S): August 29, 2012
This review is based on the XBLA version of the game.
Picking up seemingly right after the events of episode 2, this new chunk of zombie goodness gets started with the group still coming to terms with the twisted events which took place on St. John’s Farm. Things quickly go from bad to worse as before too long those bandits who relied on the farm for their supplies have now descended on the fortified motel. This early encounter sets into motion a whirlwind of events that may or may not (depending on how you play the game) shake the foundation of the series. Again, it remains for the most part up to the player to shape what happens and this episode has some of the most gut wrenchingly hard choices yet.
I like to compare the ‘choice’ system to the Mass Effect series, I do it all the time, yet after finishing episode 3 I realized that in reality the way I make choices about what to say and do is so completely different then the epic space opera. In Mass Effect I would set out to make the decisions I thought I’d make but soon find myself turning my Commander into the biggest prick possible. In the end all I cared about was maxing out good or bad and never found myself stuck in a moral grey zone. This is not the case in The Walking Dead, in fact I’d say that over the course of the first three episodes that the complete opposite has happened.
I didn’t think I’d be able to identify with Lee and at the outset I thought I’d make all the tough choices or ‘action hero’ choices that would prove the best way possible to survive. Three chapters later and I have made some bad judgement calls, which have most certainly led directly to many of my people biting the big one. As each chapter passes I spend more time weighing options and thinking of possible consequences, when something goes wrong it hits me like a ton of bricks. This is how Telltale has truly succeeded up to this point and if things continue like they have been then I may be an emotional wreck by the end of episode 5.
Gameplay, like you would imagine remains largely unchanged. Lee still walks around a given environment while chatting with fellow survivors and looking around/interacting with the environment. There is an interesting little bit of gunplay early into this chapter which has you looking down the scope of a rifle and actually firing off a few headshots, it’s not exactly Modern Warfare but it’s a fun little addition that comes during a hectic scene. The game still staggers a bit with its framerate and loading times, but not to any game breaking effect, if you made it through the first two episodes then it’s nothing new. Beyond that the game’s audio continues to do a fine job with some great tunes and V.O. work. In the XBLA version I noticed a few odd moments when the audio levels dipped randomly but not enough to ruin my experience.
As Adventure games go The Walking Dead series has been fairly light on the traditional formula that games like Sam and Max perfected, but episode 3 seems to dip its toe into a more adventure-y, less action-y pool. You’ll be searching environments a bit more than you’re used to but it all pays off with some truly ground shaking events. There are more ‘WTF’ moments in Long Road Ahead then there were in the first two episodes combined. I literally dropped my controller in shock at one point. Great Stuff.
The Walking Dead: Episode 3 is another winner with yet another tantalizing cliff-hanger that sets up what’s sure to be another great entry once Episode 4 arrives. While less a ‘thrilling’ chapter, Long Road Ahead is the most impactful yet. The characters you’ve come to know and care for are starting to come undone and it’s up to you to try to keep everyone moving forward. If the final two chapters in The Walking Dead keep this pace up then when all is said and done we will have one of the best playable dramas yet.
A copy of the game was provided by Telltale Games for reviewing purpose.
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