Average User Score: 4.0Mar 19, 2013At a release price of $49.99, you know right away you're not holding a blockbuster in your hands, but The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, forAt a release price of $49.99, you know right away you're not holding a blockbuster in your hands, but The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, for what it's worth, offers some really great ideas and new directions for gameplay, even if those great ideas are balanced with an equal helping of slipshod development, hackneyed gameplay, and lazy storytelling.
On the plus side, much like the popular show, you're thrown directly into the action, no waiting through any sort of cutscenes or setup, and since this is the exact opposite of every other game in existence, the result is jarring, in a good way. You feel like you would if this were the real zombie apocalypse. In this prequel to the television series, you play as Daryl Dixon, searching once again for Merle, on your way toward the supposedly safe city of Atlanta. Your job is to gather supplies and make careful decisions as to how to continue through the infested and overrun state of Georgia.
Most of the time you'll find yourself sneaking around in environments peeking from behind things and doing your best not to be seen or heard by any walkers. This is where the gameplay really shines too, because the feeling you get is actually intense and scary, a feeling most popular zombie games fail to capture these days. This is true survival horror at its best: slow-paced action with extremely limited weapons, and long stretches where you may not see enemies followed by large unexpected hordes. Parts of this game will remind you of what was great about the early installments of Resident Evil The game has its own pervasive mood, that is undeniably creepy.
Survival Instinct brings a bit of fresh thinking to the genre, which varies up the gameplay a bit. You'll find yourself given different ways to distract zombies and pull hordes to one side of the map while you attempt to sneak past. You'll also find things in the environment that can be strategically traded for other things. The survivors you encounter play as much a part in the game as the walkers.
The Walking Dead environment is well sold, thanks to voiceover work from Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker, which will add a bit of enjoyment for Walking Dead fans. That said, the writing isn't as strong as it is in the TV show, and it seems to exaggerate Daryl's quiet character. He's a bit of a jerk to everybody he meets, often answering questions with one or two words when people really need his help.
Ever since Gears of War and Call of Duty, game controls have sort of found themselves to be standardized, and this game (thankfully) doesn't deviate from tried-and-true formulas. It's relatively easy to wield weapons and move about, and doesn't seem to suffer from any collision-detection issues. The HUD is simple and intuitive. NPCs behave as you would expect, and supplies are hidden without too much difficulty, depending on the paths you choose.
Unfortunately, This game won't be wowing you with graphics. Coming from Terminal Reality, the same team that gave us Ghostbusters, you would expect a better job in this department. Sadly, the drab, simple environments and terrible texture rendering make this graphically more akin to Duke Nukem, which is just plain inexcusable considering how great Ghostbusters looked when it was released 4 years ago. There are about 5 character skins. You'll kill the same zombie a lot.
In addition, the environments overall feel limited, and it was disappointing how linear the game ends up being. You would always hope that a game that pits you against hordes of the undead would give you some room in the sandbox. This game, however, is a far cry from its predecessors, like Dead Island or Deadrising. Plan on moving forward a lot, because that's the only direction you'll be going.
In the world of storytelling, there isn't much to offer either. Don't expect a lot of cutscenes or much original dialogue. It happens, but when it does, much of it is a retread of things we've done in zombie games a hundred times before. Go get batteries for this, restore the power to that, get the key to this, etc. The NPCs feel cold, flat, and uninteresting. They're exactly the same people we've met in every zombie apocalypse ever. I would almost trade them for the much more interesting, if completely retarded ones from the first Deadrising. Lastly, and this is where the game design is an utter failure, this is one of those better-keep-the-console-running-because-there's-nowhere-to-f@$#ing-save kind of games. Extremely frustrating, you can play for an hour or more without finishing an objective, and should you be faced with shutting down, you're not getting that hour back, and for some of this game's worse faults, you might want it. Of course, the price point is a saving grace. It isn't worth $60, and Activision knew it. Good on them for dropping the price. Bad on them for rushing it to market. Overall the game is worth checking out, but maybe only once the price comes down enough to justify the flaws.… Expand