Thursday, 2 May 2013

The Walking Dead vs. The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct


The Walking Dead. This has been a part of my life since 2010 when an ex-colleague of mine (a guy who is pretty intense in his views on the impending Zombie Apocalypse) introduced me to the graphic comic series – The Walking Dead along with a book that ranks as my favourite: World War Z.

Now as a slight side note, be glad that this is not a movie blog, because by-gum I’d be ranting about the abomination that Brad Pitt is throwing at us in his film adaptation of the book…basically for those who haven’t indulged – the film will be fuck all like the book. The book is clever, socially and politically – it’s genius.

Anyway this isn’t about WWZ, this is about TWD.

To clarify though, when I write “TWD” I mean the TellTale Games version, where you play as Lee Everett and when I write “TWDSI” I mean the new game where you play as Daryl Dixon before the TV show’s timeline started.

Now I’ve played TWD, when it was released in episodes and recently again. And I’ve also played TWDSI, a short while ago. And this comparison is going to look at a few key aspects on which is better, which is worse and why.

Firstly let’s get this basic one out of the way nice an early.

Graphics


Now TWD uses cel shading, whereas TWDSI uses a traditional graphics. Both are advantageous in their own ways if I’m honest, but this is mainly based on their backgrounds. TWD is based off the comics – so it has nothing to do with what you watch on the TV. TWDSI is based on the TV show, so things from the comics are just a background source of loose information.

The graphics in TWD fit perfectly with the graphics in the comics, from the cameo of Glenn and Herschel to the way the Zombies move. I was never really a fan of cel shading, I always thought it made games look too cartoony – but in this case it works so well.

TWDSI has pretty decent graphics, nothing ground breaking, but nothing horrendous either. It’s pretty middle of the road but you can recognise that Daryl is Daryl and Merle is Merle. It’s about the right standard of graphic that you’d expect from a game based off a TV show – if not a bit better than that.

Overall however TWD wins out because you could almost seamlessly read the comics, and then switch over to the game without it looking like a different universe – apart from their being colour, but in games like this you need colour. TWDSI has an OK stab at it, but it comes a bit short of what you’d expect from an FPS in 2013. And there is something off about it which I can only explain as it being very, very, very samey. Very bland and very yesterday (non-shattering glass when shot is 1 big no-no for FPS games these days at least). In the end, it’s pretty easy…

TWD Wins.

Controls


This is one that I hold closer to my gaming heart than graphics. If the controls are right, the graphics don’t need to be, and the controls can make or break a game.

TWDSI unfortunately falls flat on it’s face on this one. The controls felt clunky when I first picked them up, they felt a bit like I needed an extra finger on each hand to get from A-B. However, I’ve thought that about other games before and gotten used to it – I felt that way about Gears of War at first but then it clicked.

That clunky feel to the controls should get better as you progress through TWDSI, but it doesn’t, if anything in a paradox of itself, the more you play, the clunkier and rougher the controls seem to get. If the controls had been right for TWDSI, then the slightly off graphics could be forgiven and we could have been looking at a game that would be a bit more worth talking about. But it isn’t.

TWD…also has quite clunky controls. The difference is, is that it isn’t a FPS which is more action based and so much more judged on it’s controls. TWD is more of an old school adventure game like Monkey Island, but 21st Century-ised.

The clunky feel of the controls in TWD are a bit of a pain, and do get on my tits from time to time (especially when you die as a result of the clunkiness) but because you’re not reliant on them, it doesn’t matter as much. All it needs is to be a smidge bit smoother and it’s there. The controls to TWDSI are in a word…appalling.

In all the controls to both games could be better, but because you’re more reliant on them in TWDSI and you don’t notice it as much in TWD…

TWD Wins.

Player Character

Daryl Dixon vs Lee Everett.

Firstly, I’m going to have to ignore the comics and the TV Show in order to make things fair. Since Lee only exists in the game, but Daryl is based off a character in the TV Show, I can’t let my opinion of him on the tele influence my opinion on the VG version on him…but it’s something that’s gonna happen anyway. Whether you like it or not, comparisons are always drawn. Right, Daryl in the TV Show is awesome, he’s easily mine and a lot of other peoples favourite characters and has really taken the zombie apocalypse by storm. Which is why seeing him like this in TWDSI…is such a fucking downer.

I would seriously not consider the 2 to be the same character. Daryl is simply a top guy, and is without a doubt one of the most well rounded characters in TV Show. Daryl in the game is as 1 dimensional a main character in a video game as you can get. He’s just awful, he’s soggy, he’s…he’s emotionless, or if he isn’t then Norman Reedus is too busy knocking one out to be bothered putting emotion into his performance because it’s taking up his time being an awesome guy in RL…

Lee on the other hand, is well rounded, well crafted and well received. If he was in the TV Show, he would be Rick’s 2IC not Daryl, he shows emotion, he’s generally an all round dude.

In honesty…it’s rather simple…

TWD Wins.

Based on…


TWD is based on the comics.

TWDSI is based on the TV show.

Therefore…

TWD Wins.

The Game’s Story

This is going to make things seem rather one sided here…but I will be strictly honest.
TWD’s story is a very organic experience, it’s about survival, internal conflict, dangers apart from zombies, friendship and survival. It’s about the protection of a little girl who you become responsible for, it’s about keeping her safe.

TWDSI story, is about some guys driving along the road, stopping for petrol, and sneaking around zombies…if there is more to it, I was too busy beating my head against a wall to notice it. TWDSI’s story is not a story worth mentioning in any way. I’m all about the storyline, I even like the single player storylines in the more recent CoD games. But TWDSI…naughty. Very naughty.

I don’t want to provide you with any spoilers, but when a game has the capacity to make you cry because that’s what it intended…then you know it’s a bit good. That’s what you get with TWD. Therefore…

TWD Wins.

Overall


It was never really a contest was it now? The TWD is consistent, compelling and an all round amazing experience.

TWDSI…isn’t. It’s a game of old, a poor game if it had been released 10-15 years ago. Bullet-proof windows, invisible “end of map” lines, there’s only like half a dozen skins for the zombies and the piss poor “group-hug” effect of being caught by a zombie.

Let me explain. If you were in a zombie apocalypse, and you were cornered by a group of zombies, they’d do what they do in the movies and what you’d expect them to do – rip you limb from limb without any hesitation.

In TWDSI, they are so fucking polite to each other it’s unreal.

The scene: You’re cornered by 5 zombies, ahh shit.
Possible Solution: You try to melee them away to no avail…double shit.
Outcome: One grabs you!!!! NO THIS MUST BE THE END OF IT ALL!!!! You struggle, he lunges and you move your cursor over his head and WHAM! You drive your blade into his skull. Then zombie number 2 steps into his place to try and eat you while the other’s patiently warble around you waiting for you to either kill the next zombie in the queue or die, only then will they dive in for some nosh.

It’s piss poor. I’m sorry, but it’s one of the worst games I’ve ever played. So in the end, the ultimate battle between The Walking Dead’s 2 games (so far) is that TellTale Games hit the nail on the head, and Terminal Reality should maybe concentrate on building sheds or something.

In this battle, there really was only 1 winner…

The Walking Dead Episodes 1-5 Win by such a clear majority, it would be easy to think that I compared a computer game to a paperclip.

Toolbox 24

NOTE: Mum…I must apologise, you bought me TWDSI for my birthday, and from the outset I thought it looked a decent enough game. I wasn’t to know, you weren’t to know and you know how much I love The Walking Dead and how much I love games, so it would seem a logical combination that the game would fit me nicely. Alas, it wasn’t to be. However you must know that the boys are enjoying playing it, and enjoying being Daryl!