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XBLA Review: The Walking Dead – Episode 2: “Starved for Help”

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TellTale Games made good on their promise to have episode two of The Walking Dead: The Game available on Xbox Live Arcade before the end of June.  Luckily, I was able to get a sneak peak of Starved for Help at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles in June.  The nearly half-hour of play-through I watched prepared me for some of the early decisions in this episode.  Unfortunately, that didn’t really help as I got further into it.  This newest installment gets pretty intense, particularly towards the end, and if you’re squeamish, this may not be the game for you.

If you’ve played the first episode or read the reviews, you know episode one is great to look at and a lot of fun.  The series is not only a great game on its own but, the choices you’re allowed to make in the game give an ownership unprecedented in Xbox Live Arcade or PSN games.  Each of the episodes will only take from three to four hours to play, but not since the Choose Your Own Adventure books has branching entertainment been so compelling.  Before starting Episode Two, you might want to go back and make sure you played through Episode One the way you intended.

 

The Walking Dead – Episode 2: “Starved for Help” starts three months after the events of the events of the first game and there are many new characters who will cross your path.  The main character, an ex-con, Lee Everetts, and his group has fortified the motel from the previous episode, which may have a different appearance depending on your earlier choices.  Though, they were able to stock up on food and supplies, that food is now nearly gone and nothing breeds discontent like hunger.  If the clashing personalities weren’t enough to deal with, and they are, there are plenty more hard choices to come. In fact, they’re disturbing choices — Episode Two is hands down the most macabre game you can buy on Xbox Live Arcade.

The Walking Dead game, which borrows heavily from vintage survival horror games and the classic adventure games on PC, is presented in cel-shaded scenes with fixed camera angles. In this episode, as the group travels in-game a bit more, a couple of the shots appear slightly incongruous.  The camera is occasionally adjustable, depending on the scene with the right analog stick.  Your character Lee moves directly with the left analog stick and shaded crosshairs work like mouse cursor.  When they come across an item or person Lee can interact with, icons pop onto the display with your choice of action.  In episode two it does seem as though there are a few more quick time events than first episode.

 

The game really isn’t about zombies as much as it’s about you and the people in your group and honestly, there aren’t many zombies in this episode.  Primarily, Lee is responsible for the little orphan Clementine, but as is pointed out during episode two, the rest of the group also looks to Lee for leadership.  With that type of responsibility, the choices are bound to be hard.  I found some difficulty in this episode with being able to react the way I wanted and kind of felt myself being drug along kicking and screaming at points with the narrative.  However, it doesn’t matter how big a game is, at some point the player’s wishes will have to yield to the creator’s vision.  Just ask the folks over at Bioware. 

The Walking Dead – Episode 2: “Starved for Help” is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Strong Language, Blood and Gore, Intense Violence. This game can also be found on: PS3 and PC.

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About Lance Roth

Lance Roth has over 10 years experience in the video game industry. He has worked in a number of capacities within the industry and currently provides development and strategy consulting. He participated in all of the major console launches since the Dreamcast. This videogame resume goes all of the way back to when they were written in DOS. You can contact Lance at RPGameX.com or rpgamex@gmail.com.
  • fanofthedead

    Words can not describe how much I enjoyed this game. It had me on the edge of my seat and that’s rare for a video game.