Jul 3, 2012

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The Walking Dead: Episode 2 Review

The Walking Dead: Episode 2 Review

The Walking Dead has made a name for itself by providing an engrossing story that fans eagerly wait for between volumes. The Walking Dead TV show has carved it’s own niche as well with fans excitement growing between seasons. Like the TV series and graphic novels before it, The Walking Dead video game already had fans anxiously waiting for new episodes upon releasing the first in early May. After nearly two months since the first episode, The Walking Dead Episode 2: Starved For Help has finally released just barely making it within the monthly time frame TellTale Games originally planned. After such a long wait though, was Starved For Help worth it?

The answer is a resounding yes. Whereas The Walking Dead Episode 1: A New Day introduced us to Lee Everett and his group of survivors, Starved For Help hasn’t the need to spend time on such affairs. The gameplay is unchanged from the first episode once again focusing more on telling a story while progressing via quicktime events. The newest episode picks up three months after what transpired at the drug store, still being mindful to decisions and relationships players previously made. Almost immediately Lee is thrust into a tricky situation where he must decide whether to mutilate a trapped man or leave him for dead. Given barely a brief moments time, players assume control and have to make one of many difficult choices regarding another potential survivor. After this tough decision, Lee must now face the consequences of his choice and the responsibility that involves bringing new survivors in an already hostile group environment. Tension is at an all-time high within the group with a lack of food and a power struggle being at the forefront. Unfortunately stuck between it all is Lee who throughout this latest episode will find himself constantly being forced into uncomfortable situations. Though this may not sound like the most ideal position to be in, it provides some of the most tense and compelling gameplay I’ve experienced this year. With tougher decisions to be made, higher investment in characters, and a chapter that is even greater then the previous, Starved For Help exceeded my expectations following the enjoyable first episode.

Through the first episode players were able to establish certain relationships with other characters and get an overall feel on each individuals personalities. Whether you befriended the family man Kenny or showed your disdain for the resident jerk Larry, each decision made further invested and engrossed you into the twisted tale of Lee Everett. Instead of being random strangers, these survivors have now become your friends and the weight of knowing that every decision made could adversely affect them feels incredibly heavy. TellTale Games has done a wonderful job of letting players feel close to these NPCs by providing emotive reactions and passionate dialogue sequences. There are minor sore spots in some voiceovers but overall the experience tended to feel genuine. Caring wholeheartedly for the characters TellTale Games has created may seem strange at first, but the fact that they could illicit such emotions from gamers is a testament to how well their The Walking Dead episodes are.

There are still some minor issues that TellTale needs to address in this episode and hopefully all that follow. There is a noticeable delay at times between sequences which feels like a warning that a quick-time event is incoming. The lack of smooth transitions can easily take players out of the moment and this is a recurring problem seen in the first episode. Also, the voice-sync once again has issues with characters often talking without their mouths moving. Lastly, there was a bug that I encountered that prevented me from accessing my saved games and playing the latest episode. After much fiddling between profiles I was able to remedy the situation but this nuisance took over half an hour longer then what seemed necessary.

As a series, The Walking Dead games are downright excellent. While the first episode was an enjoyable introduction, the second surpasses it in nearly every facet. Decisions are tougher, situations are darker, and the emotions felt have a much wider range then previously experienced. Though your experience may differ depending on earlier choices made, the fact of the matter is that The Walking Dead Episode 2 is a wonderful follow-up to a stellar series and is easily worth your time.

The Walking Dead: Episode 2
Platform: PC, Mac, PS3, 360 (Reviewed)
Genre: Action Adventure
Release Date: 05/27/12
Developer: TellTale Games
Publisher: TellTale Games
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
MSRP: 400 MSP ($5)