Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season 2 Review

When I played Season 1 of Telltale’s unique storytelling game set in the world of The Walking Dead, I absolutely loved it – it was my game of the year of 2014.

Will season 2 of this series be able to retain everything which made the first so great? Or will it fail?

Game: Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season 2

Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, iOS, Android, PS Vita (Reviewed)

Price: $25 for the full season ($5 per episode)

For those of you that have never played, read, or watched anything to do with The Walking Dead, it’s essentially a zombie apocalypse story that focuses on the survivors and their problems in a world where everything is scarce.

Following on from the events in the first game, you control Clementine, a nine year old girl. The opening starts only a couple of months after the ending of the first game, but before long the game skips eighteen months. This is done, partially, to allow Clementine to develop into her own character. In Season 1 she was a major secondary character, but here she is the playable character, so it’s important to distinguish her a little.

clementine

What I immediately noticed about this game is how much darker it is. This is evident not only from its high age rating, but also from the general atmosphere and artwork. While the first game did have some bright artwork, here the majority of the action is gloomy and upsetting: and sure, this is a gloomy and upsetting story, but some variation would have been nice. At the moment, there’s barely any sort of variation between episodes.

Each episode is its own story, but they all are part of a larger arc. The main story here revolves around Clementine trying to find a new group of survivors and her journey with them, which is an interesting story as she soon gets swept up into a series of events that affect her and her group.

One of the problems I had in this season is that it felt like my choices didn’t matter. Now while I don’t mind the illusion of choice, this game doesn’t allow the role-playing experience the first season had. In the first game you controlled Lee, who acted as a father figure to Clementine since the death of her own parents. Some of the best choices you made as Lee had nothing to do with the story, but how you personally chose to raise Clementine. Examples that spring to mind include punching someone a few times but not enough to seriously damage him, not stealing out of the boot of a car, and so on. These choices had little-to-no effect on the story, but it felt like I was choosing what to do in this world, which I feel is just as important as the major decisions. Here, it’s fairly obvious the major decisions don’t have a major effect (saving characters will just result in them silently in the background) but there’s so little of these minor, role-playing decisions that it doesn’t matter anyway.

3

The linear plot itself is pretty decent, featuring some returning characters from season 1 and an exhilarating final episode climax.

The artwork is quite nice, as mentioned previously it’s dark and gloomy but it suits the story. This is definitely a cinematic experience, so I would recommend playing it on a big screen. Season 1 was pretty good on the small Vita screen, but season 2 wasn’t as good on the small screen. I would recommend a console purchase for the full experience.

The sound was decent, the highlight of course being the songs that play during the credits of each episode. There’s nothing really special about the in-episode sound though, but given this is a dialogue-heavy game I don’t expect much from the music anyway.

2

The biggest failure of this game was its lack of optimisation. It was occasionally slow and had some bugs; for instance at one point the dialogue for a scene played while the scene was still loading and then I had to watch the scene in silence. Episode 3 also crashed to the home screen at one point, which was a little upsetting but fortunately I was able to load from the most recent scene. I can’t comment on the other platforms, but I would recommend avoiding the PS Vita version, as it is, out of the platforms I’ve played Telltale games on, the least optimised.

So let’s some up what we have here: a good plot, decent storytelling, good gameplay, and good graphics. What we have here is a good game, but unfortunately one that just falls shy of the great and amazing games I am used to from Telltale. I give The Walking Dead: Season 2 a 3.5/5 objectively and a 3.5/5 subjectively.

Positives

+ Good Plot

+ Good Graphics

7/10

Negatives

– Decisions not as good as expected from Telltale

– Bugs and other optimisation issues

 

It’s the 80s – Hotline Miami Review

Name: Hotline Miami

Available on: PC, Mac, Linux, PS3, PS Vita

Reviewed on: PS Vita

 

Hotline Miami is one of those games where there’s little-to-no story, the controls are fairly basic, and the graphics aren’t realistic – but it manages to be more fun that perhaps most games that feature even just one of those mechanics.

Hotline Miami is a very violent game. Not violent as in ‘a bit of blood here and there’, violent as in you’ll be punching people’s heads off, shooting people, choking people, and even drilling holes in people. This game, while not realistic in many ways, is not for the faint of heart.

Hotline Miami is a top-down beat-em-up type game that progresses through a set of linear missions, which must be unlocked in order.

One day, the unnamed playable character wakes up in a basement, where after a quick tutorial in how to kill people through a variety of methods, the character walks upstairs to a room with three masked men who promptly launch into a cryptic set of messages, before the actual game begins. Each mission plays out with the character receiving a phone call, driving to a location, and killing a whole bunch of henchmen. Each level takes place in a building with many floors, so the character will make their way up each floor until they eventually kill every man in the building. After the character accomplishes this, they walk all the way through the floors of the building, past all the piles of bodies of the men he’s killed, reaches the entrance, hops in his car, and then goes an completes a mundane task, like buying groceries, renting a movie, or going to the local disco to get his groove on – this is (presumably) the 80s after all. These tasks help reiterate how strange the whole set of events is, and even allows some sort of story progression (which is very minimal and I never really followed what was happening – or even why it was happening).

Gameplay is very simple – there is one ‘action’ button that will make you use whatever you’re holding: fists will punch, baseball bats will swing, and guns will fire, all with the press of this one button – it’s very easy to use, especially since the only other controls are moving and controlling the cursor. Whenever you kill or knock out an enemy, they drop their weapon. This is useful for many reasons, namely because the character can only carry one weapon at a time – so if you run out of ammo and need a melee weapon, or you have a melee weapon and want a gun, you’ll need to find whatever enemy has the weapon you’re after. Additionally, the AI in this game will react in many ways to different weapons: if they hear gunshots, they’ll come running. If they see you through a window holding a knife, they’ll shoot you/run at you. This can be used to an advantage to quickly exterminate all the enemies on a floor – a tactic of mine was a gunshot followed by picking up the knife and holding down the ‘action’ button to melee very fast, and then moving close to the door and killing all the enemies very quickly.

It’s little additions like these that make the game that much more stylised and interesting to play through. The other addition that makes the game unique on every playthrough (I played the campaign twice) is the feature of one hit kills for not just you, but your enemies as well (save for the few bosses). Once you die, you start from the start of the floor you were killed on – so sometimes I’d get through almost the entire floor of enemies and then die at the hands of the last one. There are little moments like these in Hotline Miami that just make the game that much more intense, and if you survive, rewarding.

The game also has several collectables; which are masks and puzzle pieces. Masks are masks that your character wears to do their job, all of which save for the starting mask add a perk to the game – one allows you to start with a knife, one gives you another life (but only if you get hit by a gunshot) and another allows for even more gore. There’s a mix of cosmetic masks (like the gore one) and gameplay ones (such as the knife one), which is good. Most masks are unlocked simply through progressing the story, but there are others that must be specifically found in a particular level. The other collectable, puzzle pieces, are found throughout all the levels, and are represented by a small purple square. Collecting these will give a letter, which is used to spell out a sentence. This is used in one of Hotline Miami’s two endings: either the standard one with little info (but still finishing the story) or the ‘complete’ ending, which gives a lot more information (but still doesn’t really make the story any clearer).

I only really have two gripes with this game, and funnily enough they’re almost contradictory: one regards how easy the game is, and the other how hard it is. My first issue is how overpowered some of the weapons are: the knife especially. I found that I was able to pretty much use just knife to kill everyone on a floor, and once I got the mask that let me start with a knife, that was the only mask I used. My other issue is that some parts of the game are incredibly difficult – the difficulty scaling in this game is crazy, it’ll be flowing at one point and then be incredibly difficult the next – I had to use a walkthrough to figure out how to do some parts, and at other parts I only survived thanks to a fluke. Fortunately, there’s only really three parts in the whole game that I remember as being incredibly difficult, and once you realise how to complete them they become so much easier.

Length-wise, there’s about 20 story missions here, and none of them take that long to complete – it’d be possible to finish the game in one sitting of about 3 hours I reckon, but otherwise it doesn’t take that long to complete. There is replay value in the masks and the puzzle pieces/complete ending though.

While there are a few issues regarding the difficult of the game, that doesn’t change how much pure, simple fun Hotline Miami is. It’s simple, intense, and just absolute brilliant.

Positive

  • Great Fun
  • Simple Art Style
  • Simple Gameplay
  • Great Design Elements (such as the one-hit kills)
  • Replay Value (masks and puzzle pieces)

8.5.fw

 

2014.fw

 

Negative

  • Weak Storyline
  • A Few Overpowered Weapons
  • A Few Very Difficult Sections

Gamesland News: 01.11.13 – 08.11.13

Live from Gamesland, it’s time for another news update!

News

– Nintendo has officially stopped production of the Wii. The Wii had sold 100 million copies since 2006, making it the fifth best-selling console ever, and the best-selling of the latest generation (so far). The Wii was revolutionary in establishing motion controls, and was an extremely popular home console.

– The Wii Mini has officially become available to purchase in the United States. The Wii Mini is a cheaper, smaller version of the Wii, costs $100, and comes with a wiimote, nunchuck, and Mario Kart Wii. It is compatible with 1400 Wii games, but is only able to play them, and will not be able to access the Internet or e-shop. Nintendo, if this thing ever comes to Australia, I might just buy it…If only to play the Nintendo exclusive games of the last generation.

– Nvidia has announced its newest graphics card, the GeForce GTX 780Ti, supposedly the “best GPU on the planet” (according to Nvidia)

– The 2DS can actually fit in your pocket! This Video from gaming website Kotaku has a nice review, with proof that it fits in your pocket (barely).

– All the next generation hype is here, with the PS4 releasing on the 15th in the US (29th in Europe or Australia) and the Xbox One being released on the 22nd. Which one will you be getting?

 

What I’m Playing

– Pokémon X arrived, so I’ve been playing that. Really like what I’ve seen so far, been working on getting a good team (so much fun to one-hit KO someone because of a type advantage)

– That’s it (I know. It’s disappointing)

 

Tune in next Friday (15.11.13…Conveniently the day the PS4 releases, so I understand if you guys are too busy playing your new console) for more news from the land of gaming!

Gamesland News: 25.10.13 – 01.11.13

Well, guys, I hope you had a great week. Some new games were released, namely Batman: Arkham Origins and Battlefield 4, so if you’re playing them, I hope you enjoy them!

News
– Indie games developer Halfbrick (Jetpack Joyride, Fruit Ninja) was announced as mobile developer of the year in Australia.
– It had been confirmed that Call of Duty: Ghosts will run at 720p on the Xbox One, however it has been stated by a Microsoft representative that it will still look good upscaled to 1080p. Comparison videos appear to show not much difference.
– Also in Xbox One news, the Kinect will share you’re data with Microsoft, but only if you’re playing online, and only a stick figure version of yourself will be sent to Microsoft. You will not be able to be recognised by the stick figure diagram, and the data will be deleted after they have analysed it. Voice Chat, however, will be able to be heard by anyone.
Titanfall will be a Microsoft (Xbox One and PC) exclusive, and will not be coming to PS4. Titanfall 2 might be, though.
– Nintendo announced a new Pokémon game, in which Pikachu will have a big role. Apparently, it’s a detective style game.
– Nintendo also announced that The Legend of Zelda and Pikmin will be getting a cartoon on the 3DS video software.
Nintendo Letter Box (or Swapnote) has been cancelled after ot was tevealed that certain people were sending inapporpriate content.

What I’m Playing
Tomb Raider, Mass Effect, and Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure (I’ll explain later).
– My Pokémon X game has not arrived yet. Grrrr.

Questions? Feedback?
– Leave them in the comments and I’ll post a reply.

Tune in next Friday (8.11.13) for more news from the land of Gaming.