Review by DandyQuackShot
"The Oregon Trail Meets The Walking Dead"
Thinking this might be a great game to offset all this time having to wait for the next season of The Walking Dead to come back on next fall I took a chance with buying The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct brand new. All I can say now is that I could have waited for this game to drop price. The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct has a great concept with very poor execution, well, actually it has a lot of good execution moves on zombies in this game, but the overall experience is poor. If you were looking for an experience that is comparable to watching an episode of The Walking Dead or a great follow up to the TellTale Walking Dead game Survival Instinct is not it. This game reminded me a lot of the Left 4 Dead games, so if you are into those games this one may be enjoyable for you.
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct follows the story of Daryl and Merle Dixon leading up to the events of the The Walking Dead television series. You get to play Daryl in the first person and with a limited supply of weapons you have to be careful around the walkers as you search around towns and stops along the way for food, ammo, and gas. Merle becomes the focus of the game as you have to go and find him in the prison he was left in and eventually you have to chase him around as he goes after his gang to seek vigilante justice for being put in jail. Along the way you run across other survivors but they don't have much of a back story and won't stay with your party for too long. You can keep a few of the survivors in your party through the end of the game but with a few achievements for ending the game with all women or all men in your party there is not much else to it.
For a game that had a lot of promise, it is still a very short experience. You can play through twice in a day and have completed just about everything you wanted to accomplish. The highlights of The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct are that you have to carefully maneuver around the walkers and take down any in your way or use a gun and have a whole herd attack you in an instant. You will find yourself on top of a car or bus in some situations with plenty of zombies trying to get at you. The high ground is a good place to be but it can also end up being the last place you want to be. Of course, of half way through the game Daryl will be reunited with his favorite weapon of choice. The crossbow is a fun weapon to use and the bolts are reusable. You just have to remember to aim for the head otherwise you have to carefully pick the bolt out of the walker before they grab you. In some situations you will get stuck in the middle of hord of walkers as each one will grab you and you have to successfully stab them in the head. I usually died when getting in this spot but you can survive these encounters later in the game as you increase your health and skills.
Survival Instinct plays out in the fashion of the Oregon Trail where you have to manage a limited number of slots to carry items and make a decision as to who to leave behind when you get too many survivors in your party and do not have enough space in your car to take them. You manage what the survivors will do in certain areas of the game such as hunt for supplies and if they are hurt during the next stop you can heal them as well as give them weapons to increase their chances of survival. Some survivors are more capable than others and then sometimes the best will die on a search that they had a good chance of surviving. You get to choose what locations you want to go to next but the towns are all fake which doesn't make any sense. The Walking Dead series is based off of real towns and every town in this game is fictional. You even do enough traveling in this game to go to another state. I even street viewed Woodbury, Georgia on Google maps to confirm my suspicions about the towns listed in this game as being fictional. Woodbury actually does look like the town you see in the television series.
The graphics are most definitely an obvious giveaway that this game is a PC port. I'm okay with ported games, but it is very easy to tell that the graphics weren't tweaked for the Xbox 360 console. A lot of the zombies (I mean walkers) will repeat and even the gas stations and places that you stop off at even repeat! The worst aspect of the graphics are the very bland buildings and homes you will enter. It looks like life was already over a hundred years ago before the zombie plague hit. Homes are very vacant with little decor or signs that they were ever lived in. Some neat aspects were the dimly litted office buildings with the chance of meeting a walker hiding behind a door.
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct features actors Michael Rooker (Merle) and Norman Reedus (Daryl) who are two very great actors with probably the worst dialogue ever in this game. Needless to say Survival Instinct is no match for The Walking Dead: The Game when it comes to dialogue. There is a little establishment of Daryl and Merle in the beginning of the game and once Merle is found there are conversations while the travel screen is going. It just does not develop into anything more than that. The other characters in the game are very much come and go.
For replay value, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is a short lived experience that expends its thrills through repetitive game play and a lack of depth. Just like Daryl Dixon, this game is to the point with no in between. The achievement points are very easy to get in two play throughs and regardless of whether you run out of gas you still continue on to the end of the game.
You can chalk The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct up to being another average movie based game, or in this case, a tv based game. The thrills are there but the game is short and not as fun as it could have been and definitely not as fun as the many other zombie survival games out there. I would highly recommend the other Walking Dead game made by TellTale which gives you more of a Walking Dead experience than this game does. And since I have got through both games with plenty of time left until next fall I have no idea what to do. If you are a fan of The Walking Dead AMC series, you will definitely not miss anything about Daryl and Merle by avoiding this game.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 04/22/13
Game Release: The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct (US, 03/19/13)
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