Tag Archives: zombies

Telltale’s season 2 of The Walking Dead bites off a new adventure

TWDs2top

Despite there only being a couple days gap, it feels a little weird writing about a 2013 game in 2014, especially now that I’m doing comics for each one that I complete. Sorry, episode 1 of Telltale’s The Walking Dead; all you got was a stinky ol’ haiku. But I’m sure you’ll get at least four comics out of me this year, since I bought the season pass and am already hungry for more since the beginning of the second season, much like the appetizer that 400 Days turned out to be, doesn’t really satisfy one’s hunger, only starts to fill you up with characters and places and problems to be. Y’know, for down the line.

Some quick catch-up, and I’ll do my best to be as unspoilery as possible for those that have not yet experienced the first season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead. But really now, shame on you. Just do it. I think the first episode is constantly being thrown out there for no cost, so snatch it up, love it, and burn through the remainder eps one after the other like I did, without having to wait months between story breaks. Anyways, by the very end of the Savannah storyline, Clementine is all by herself in the zombie-infested wild, eventually taking notice of two people in the distance. Flash-forward several months, and Clem is now travelling with Omid and a visibly pregnant Christa in search of…well, somewhere safe. We pick up as the three reach a gas station to scavenge for supplies and rest before getting back on the road.

Naturally, as things tend to do in zombie anything–films, books, TV shows, games–things quickly take a turn for the worse, but thanks to everything that Lee taught Clementine in the previous season–well, my Lee taught her, but your mileage may vary–she can mostly handle herself just fine. Alas, there’s a tragic encounter with a stray dog that really puts Clem in a dangerous spot, and a big portion of episode 1’s latter half is righting this error. Medically speaking, that is. She eventually becomes part of a new group, though they don’t trust her, and the best sequence has Clem sneaking into their safehouse to steal enough vital supplies to heal her own wounds, since the others are waiting for her to turn into a walking dead girl. This shows off just how brave and independent she’s become over the past several months, now a young woman of action and not hesitation. So far, there’s no real clear objective like season one’s “find a boat,” but I guess staying alive–and keeping those we like alive, too–is game enough for some, though I’d like to see Clem eventually have some kind of concrete plan.

Not much has changed in terms of how The Walking Dead plays from the previous episodes, and that’s fine. Always a mix of adventuring and stay alive moments, with enough of both to keep me satisfied. You still look around for items, talk to people and make choices, and explore confined locations for clues or bits that flesh out the story. I did notice that Clem now has an inventory sub-menu, where she can grab items to use on other items, making this a bit more like a point-and-click adventure game than it probably wanted to be at the beginning of its creation. Action scenes are still, more or less, dominated by quick time button prompts, but now with the added innovation of swiping left or right, using the analog stick on the controller, which leads me to think that some of these scenarios were designed with tablet and iPhone users in mind.

For “All That Remains,” there’s a couple of somewhat minor decisions to make along the way, as well as a number of unavoidable deaths. That’s right. Try as you all might, you can’t save that certain four-legged critter from its depressingly authentic conclusion. I only know this because Tara checked online. She had to. Come the very end of the episode, like it’s last two minutes, you do get to save someone’s life over another’s, and that decision will most certainly play a part in the events to come, but again, this is only the beginning, a nibble, and I’m hoping we get the second episode sometime early in February. Still also waiting for a connection, big or small, to 400 Days; that better not had been all for naught.

2013 Game Review Haiku, #63 – The Walking Dead, Season 2, Episode 1 – “All That Remains”

2013 games completed twd S2 all that remains

Clem finds herself out
In the wild, a new group
Awaits, curse that dog

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.

Dead Rising 2 should not have returned from the grave

Dead Rising 2 game final thoughts

There are some games I loathe from the very beginning, but a terrible, masochistic part of my brain keeps me playing, as I have to see them through to the end, hopeful that there is maybe still some aspect or single element I haven’t seen yet that can be called enjoyable or mildly so and see the whole experience retrofitted just a wee bit. Here, let me name a few: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner Overclocked, Mafia II, and Game of Thrones: The Game. They all have their problems, but I kept playing them save for Cyanide’s take on Westeros, blind with false hope. Well, I think we can also now officially add Dead Rising 2 to this selective category.

In Dead Rising 2, you play as Chuck Greene, a former motocross champion now housing it up in the fictional casino town of Fortune City, Nevada. He is an active member of Terror Is Reality, a controversial game show where contestants kill zombies for money and fame. Chuck only does this because he needs the prize money to buy Zombrex, which is a daily medication that magically suppresses the zombification process, for his bitten daughter Katey. However, while backstage after the show, Terror Is Reality’s supply of disposable zombies is released, creating havoc and panic and bringing everything good to a shambling halt. Chuck is able to rescue his daughter and reach an emergency shelter, but has to keep her supplied with Zombrex until the military arrives in three days.

That’s the story setup, and from there you can explore Fortune City at, more or less, your leisure. So long as you don’t suffer too many zombie bites, of course. Main missions and side missions are constantly available, but some won’t begin until a specific time and others only last so long before you lose out on whatever prize they offer. Basically, you have to choose what you can do in the time that you have, and I found myself, after restarting the story twice due to boss fight difficulties, skipping all the side missions and just grinding out PP from zombies near the safehouse until a main story mission began. By the end of the game, I had only killed five Psychopaths and rescued 12 survivors, which is just a drop in the bucket for both of those optional endeavors. I only fought a Psychopath or saved someone if the description mentioned Zombrex. When not killing zombies, you can also look around for items to make combo weapons and mixed drinks to further help you kill zombies later, which is both fun and frustrating, especially when some items are terribly huge and have to be carried all the way back to a maintenance room, which is across a sea of biters. I stuck with a few staples over the course of the game, namely spiked baseball bat, the Defiler, and whatever it is called when you mix MMA gloves and a box of nails.

Other than smacking a zombie in the face with a spiked baseball bat or running over a horde of them with a mobile trash bin, I did not enjoy much of anything that Dead Rising 2 had to offer. Chuck purposely moves slow and clunky, especially if you try to jump and then keep moving. His speed increases and additional melee moves are unlocked as you level up, but it’s a slow and seemingly random process, as by level 26 I still was missing a lot of abilities that would have made running around more convenient and a bit easier. You can only save at bathrooms, which are not surprisingly everywhere you turn, so I found myself constantly losing a lot of progress if Chuck accidentally bought the farm. Can’t set waypoints on the map. Weapons break after some time, and I understand why that has to be, but man do I not enjoy it, especially after it took so long to find the right pieces and construct it. Wearing goofy clothes is okay and thankfully completely cosmetic, and I do appreciate that Chuck has them still on in all cutscenes, but Dead Rising 2 is a very goofy game with batshit crazy side quests and zany survivor-saving missions, but then also a main storyline that really does want to be taken dead serious, with its twists and turns and real-life drama of a child potentially being turned into a monster and a man being wrongly framed. It’s all very conflicting.

That previously mentioned masochistic part of my brain wants to load up my last Dead Rising 2 save, which is right before what I thought was the final boss fight, and see if I can get the other ending, but I know it won’t enhance my experience any more. Hmm. In fact, after reading a bit about it, seems like quite a bother, and for what, a silly Achievement. Meh, no thanks. However, I’m pretty close to crossing the 5,000 mark for killed zombies, so maybe I’ll put on a favorite podcast and go out swinging.

2013 Game Review Haiku, #47 – Dead Rising 2

2013 games completed dead rising 2

Gotta find Zombrex
Up my zombie kill count, too
A gamble, restart

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.

It’s all about déjà vu for Dead Rising 2

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I’ve started Dead Rising 2 over twice now and am currently playing through the opening story bits for a third time, wondering why I’m doing this to myself. Certainly not because I love the sound zombies make when you bop them on the head with a spiked bat. The problem is that I keep running into boss fights that are wiping the floor with me, and I’m unsure if it is due to my lackluster fighting skills or if Chuck Greene is not high enough in levels–which increases health, inventory slots, speed, damage, and so on–to deal with these psychopaths. The latest progression roadblock happens in Case 4 involving two sword-wielding women, if you’re curious.

Clearly, someone at Capcom loves starting over. This seemingly masochistic mechanic is also a key element in the company’s Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, an RPG from the PlayStation 2 era that more or less demands you die and begin again to better learn how to survive some fights. I will eventually go back and try to grok Dragon Quarter because, man…I need to know. Maybe that’ll be on my “Games to Beat in 2014” list. Unfortunately, at the rate I’m playing, a few from my 2013 list will most likely be there too. In case it’s not clear, I’m not talking about the main character dying and reviving at some checkpoint–you literally must start Dead Rising 2 over again, from the very beginning, cutscenes and all. The twist is that you retain Chuck’s level, money, upgrades, and a few key items, so you’re only growing stronger with each and every playthrough.

But some games are not fun to play over and over, especially when the playing part is fueled by frustration. A few I find I keep coming back to and enjoying include Borderlands 2, Fallout: New Vegas, and Saints Row: The Third. Those kinds of gaming experience offer you choices and variations on how to play. You can go down an evil path or focuses on heavy weapons or whatever.

I think Dead Rising 2 is a prime example of a game you should only play once, all the way through; just like the zombies you hack and slash out of your way, this game moves at a shambling, almost idiotic pace. You can skip the cutscenes, but still have to endure the loading screens, and the missions do not play out any differently a second and third time through. Sure, you can get through them faster now that you know what they entail and have a better grip on what makes an effective zombie-killing weapon, but it’s more or less mindless grinding for the sake of…what? Some designer’s guilty pleasure? Also, stick suck at saving survivors unless they are standing a few feet away from the safehouse. Every playthrough is an uphill climb, each less than the previous, but still–completely unnecessary.

I think the most fun I’ve had so far with Dead Rising 2 is when I hit a zombie with a painting, stuck a goofy mask on its head, attached an IED to its back, and shot it from a safe distance after it meandered over to some friends, racking up a sickeningly rewarding amount of PP in one heck of a zomplosion. That said, I really hope I don’t have to start the game over for a third time.

“400 Days” bridges the gap and teases you along the way

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Here’s the straight dope: I bought “400 Days,” the latest episode of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead, the day it dropped on July 5. However, I did not play it immediately, and there are a couple of reasons for this. One, I was reeling–and still am–over the loss of Ryan Davis a few days prior, and two, I knew in my heart of hearts that this was no new full season, brimming with story and content that would linger with me just like Lee and Clem and Kenny have ever since the first season ended. It was created to whet one’s appetite, not sate it.

Two months later, I started up “400 Days” and played through it in a single sitting. Tara watched, too, as well as made a key decision during Vince’s slice. More on that later. Anyways, it’s not very long, but it’s fairly enjoyable, with two of the five character storylines really exciting and engaging. In the end, it does feel like a big tease for what’s yet to come; however, even a carrot on a string from Telltale Games is better than nothing, and certainly more enjoyable than some games I’ve played this year (see Fable III and The Cave).

“400 Days” takes place around Gil’s Pitstop, a truck stop set against a Georgia highway. You play through the point of views of five different survivors, with each story set at a different time since the dead began to walk. Some are right there at the beginning of the outbreak, and others have been at this game of live or don’t live for some time now. There’s Vince, an arrested criminal; Shel, a young woman taking refuge at the truck stop with her younger sister; Bonnie, a coming-clean junkie; Wyatt, along with his druggie friend, are trying to escape a man in a truck; and Russell, a young boy hitchhiking down the road. You can please these stories in any order, but that’s how I did ’em: Vince, Shel, Bonnie, Wyatt, and Russell. After you play all the individual stories, there’s an epilogue to experience, which hints at what will be happening in the next season of The Walking Dead, and who from “400 Days” will be there to live the tale.

I urge anyone that hasn’t played “400 Days” yet to begin with Vince’s story. It packs the most punch and feels the most chaotic, with some hard and harsh decisions to make. I left one of those to Tara, and we both now have to live with that choice, while someone else has to live without a certain appendage. It’s mostly set in a bus on its way to prison. Next, I’d suggest Bonnie, which features some fun conversation bits and a nifty stealth sequence set in a cornfield. The others you can kind of do in any order and are much tamer in terms of action, though all are consistent with the quality writing and gray characterization previously found in characters like Lee and Kenny. I particularly found myself hating Nate in the same way that one hates a villain in Game of Thrones.

You’ll notice that I have not delved too deeply into the details about each of the survivors and their respective stories. It’s not that there isn’t much to share, but rather you should really experience it for yourself, in your own way. Though I wouldn’t blame you if you waited until the night before The Walking Dead‘s season two dropped to do it. Otherwise, you’ll be hungrier than some of the zombies you cross in this short, but sweet tease. And now I wait, stomach all a-grumble.

Stumbling around unhappily in Dead Rising 2

Dead Rising 2 initial impressions

Over the weekend, some friends showed me a thing called Highschool of the Dead, which follows a group of high school students caught in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. The anime, not the manga, mind you. It’s more or less your typical zombie survival story, but set in a Japanese school and frequently punctuated with gratuitous panty shots and boob bouncing, there to mix and mingle with the violent bloodshed and tense drama. I may or may not watch more of it in the future, but regardless, it got me thinking about zombies again, reminding me that I had two zombie-related videogames downloaded on my Xbox 360, just waiting for my warm hands: The Walking Dead’s “400 Days” and Dead Rising 2.

I decided to see what Dead Rising 2 was all about first. Having only played the demo for Dead Rising way back when, all I know about this franchise is that there are a ton of zombies to kill, and they often block your way from point A to point B. You can use a variety of weapons, some effective and others less than so, and you earn PP by creatively killing zombies, which helps you level up, gain more skills, and unlock new combo cards. That sounds okay to me, if a bit mindless (pun intended). Throw in some Capcom goofiness, and we’re good to go.

No, wait. Hold up, corpse-face. I did play Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, a prequel to Dead Rising 2. It was a four- to five-hour experience that…I don’t remember much about. Oops, my bad. In the end, I wrote that it was worth getting over a sandwich, which is like crazy talk. Dead Rising 2 picks up a couple of years after the events in Case Zero, with Chuck Greene and his daughter trying to survive in Fortune City, which is now swarmed by the undead. He’s been framed for a crime he did not commit, and as you go about trying to clear your name you will rescue survivors, build weapons, give Katey some Zombrex every 24 hours, and kill the walking dead (or just run past them).

To be honest, I’m not having as much fun as I did in Case Zero. In fact, I’m finding the main game to be extremely frustrating and a wee bit unfair. Or maybe I don’t know how to go to the bathroom often enough to save my progress, but I’ve already lost an hour or so of gameplay time after getting stuck in a swarm of zombies with no health left. There are no checkpoints or auto-saves happening, so it is all in your hands to keep on top of that. I either need to make better saving decisions or just not play Dead Rising 2.

When you’re not following the main story missions, you are free to explore Fortune City until something becomes available. Generally, you will be killing zombies in your way and helping others in peril. These, from what I’ve seen, are more or less escort missions, and they are absolutely the worst. Most of the survivors are horrible runners, often getting caught in a zombie’s arms, and they lose health fast. Also, if you swing at the zombie biting them and accidentally hit them in the process, they will die. Don’t ask me how I know this.

I’m still in Act 1 for Dead Rising 2, not having fun, but I’ll try playing some more and see if I can get anywhere. I think I just might no longer attempt to save anyone, as it is really more of a hassle than anything else. I know you get some extra PP bonus or whatever, but man. I just don’t know. If there was no time limit, I’d just like to run around the casinos, finding fun and silly ways to annoy zombies before knocking their heads off. If only…

2013 Game Review Haiku, #3 – The Walking Dead, Episode 5 – “No Time Left”

the walking dead no time left games completed 2013

Get Clementine back
Escape city, keep moving
Then Lee can let go

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.

2013 Game Review Haiku, #2 – The Walking Dead, Episode 4 – “Around Every Corner”

games completed 2013 twd around every corner ep4

Looking for a boat
Not simple, zombies mew up
Radio taunts Lee

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.

Munchkin Zombies wants brains, and I want to help them eat brains

Munchkin Zombies is debuting at PAX East this weekend, which is very exciting for two reasons: 1) the sooner it debuts there, the closer we zomb-crawl towards a retail release and 2) it’s the first core set in many moons since Munchkin Booty back in 2008 and early musings of it seem to indicate that it is above and beyond a traditional core set. This is great because, while traditional Munchkin gameplay is fine and fun, I was worried that we’d just get that with a zombie skin (ewww gross). That does not seem to be the case. For instance, instead of players playing as Munchkins, we’re actually in control of the zombies and can acquire different mojo that will tell us how we ultimately became part of undead society. Here, take a look at some sample preview cards:

Either way, I’m excited about this despite my wishy-washy feelings towards the zombie epidemic spreading across all media as of late. Guess I can credit that to John Kovalic‘s adorable and hilarious take on the undead. And there’s already an expansion set to drop this fall, along with more themed booster packs for Halloween and Christmas. That’s cool, that’s cool, but first things first: braaaaaaains…