Monday, April 1, 2013

Bad Game Reviews - The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct

Activision's The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is the newest cash grab based on this zombie fad.  Unlike the Telltale Game series, which is great, this is based directly on the television show.  Now everyone has heard how horrible this is, and I'm not going to repeat everything everyone else has said.  I think this game has some wonderful mechanics, but wasn't executed properly.  I want anyone who is interested in the game to give it a rental, you might be surprised how much you like it!  I personally want more zombie games like this, but maybe the general public does not.

In the game, you play as this lovely former saint from Boston.  He is a character created  completely for the show, and while this is not a bad thing, it initially turned me off from the show.  I watched the first season, wasn't particularly impressed, and I didn't watch the second season until about a month ago, and now I'm hooked!  It got so much better.  Anyway, you play as Darrell Dixon at the beginning of the outbreak.


There isn't a tremendous amount of story, but I'll try to make this as spoiler free as possible.  The game starts out on a hunting trip, you find a deer, get it in your signs, and thing go south.  Zombies attack, you retreat to your cabin and decide you need to go after your brother who is in a jail a few towns over.


The game is a first-person shooter, which has been done in other zombie games to near perfection in the past.  Left 4 Dead is still widely played on the PC, Dead Island is doing well, and no one can forget Call of Duty Zombies.  Personally, I'm a Romero zombie fan.  I like my zombies slow, and killable with melee weapons.  I originally hated Left 4 Dead because of the zombie speed and "special" zombies.  It has grown on me a bit, but it still isn't too much fun for me.  I like realism, and this game kind of has it.

Like in the show, you quietly sneak around, trying to avoid zombies.  You can always just go in, guns blazing, and kill them all, but it's not recommended.  Gun shots attract the walkers, so once you fire a shot, you are going to be needing to fire more!  I think it adds a new level of fun to it.  I often had a shotgun, but I would smack them in the face with a hatchet six times to kill them instead of alerting more.  Melee weapons play a huge role.

There is a decent selection of weapons.  Hammer, knife, fire axe, baseball bat, hatchet, machete, and others.  I was happy with the melee weapons choices.  The game does it very repetitive with combat.  You bash a zombie with a hammer, then bash another, then another.  It sounds bad, but what are you expecting from a game based on The Walking Dead television series?  If it was a 30 hour game, it would be bad, as a six hour game, it felt decent.

Guns fire like any first-person shooter.  You can aim with the iron sights or scope if one is attached.  Ammo is very limited at time, there were a few level I completely ran out.

The combat takes a great turn when you acquire Darrell's signature crossbow.  With this weapon, you have range and it is silent.  The best part is, you can recover bolts from the walkers after they are killed, so ammo becomes less of a problem.  It really felt like a power weapon, not didn't feel overpowered.  I had a lot of fun lining up shots so I could easily recover my arrows.

The one aspect of combat I didn't care for was the zombies "group attack".  If too many walkers get close to you, you enter this thing where zombies are constantly clawing at you, so you slowly take damage.  While this is happening  you have to line up your knife with the zombies head.  Harder than it sounds, but after you get one zombie, it moves onto the next...and the next...and the next.  Initially, I thought this was nice as I would die if more than four zombies attacked me at once, but it got old, fast.


The game relies heavily on survival practices.  You are shown a map, you choose your destination, then choose how you want to drive there.  You are given three options, one takes less fuel, but has little chances of finding supplies, one takes lots of fuel, but high chance of finding supplies, and the final option meets in the middle.  Fuel can be scarce it times, depending on the vehicle you are driving.  As you progress through the game, you can find more fuel efficient cars, or cars that hold more people.

Something I thought was neat was the fact that your car can break down on the side of the road.  You have to walk to a nearby shop or house and look for a part.  Unfortunately, every time this happened it was always the same part, usually in the same two places.  Neat idea, poorly executed. 

You meet people along the road and you can bring them along with you if you choose.  They can prove useful to you.  As you enter a section of the map, you can assign weapons and tasks to your fellow survivors.  You can send them to look for food, ammo, or fuel.  The game gives you a percentage chance of them surviving.  Depending on the area, it can be certain death, or certain return.  Each character prefers certain weapons, if you give someone a weapon they prefer, their chance of dying decreases.

I'm not sure how I feel about it, but in the game you are typically being sneaky, not alerting zombies.  If you get in trouble, you can always sprint, but if you do too much, Darrell begins to sweat.  The sweat is shown by water droplets running down your screen.  The smell of your sweat attracts nearby walkers.  Kind of neat, kind of annoying.

What I loved so much about this game was that I felt overwhelmed by more then two zombies.  Two, I could handle, and more than that, and I'll probably attract unwanted attention.

Fun Factor

I thoroughly enjoyed this game.  I rented it from a Redbox, and I recommend everyone else does the same.  It cost me $4 to beat this game, and I totally don't regret it.  It only lasted about six hours, and it could have been shorter than that if I didn't search for shit I didn't need.

The game reminds me of Dead Island and Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler's Green.  Not many people played Land of the Dead, but I loved that as well.  Dead Island is much more action oriented than this is, and a much better game, but this is worth a rental to any fan of the Walking Dead television show.  I didn't explore all locations on the map, and I would love to go through the game again and do them all. I'll definitely be picking this up after its inevitably soon price drop.


It's not a perfect game, and they are apparently glitches that are pretty bad.  I never had one happen, but I have seen the videos.  There's problems, but it's fun for what it is.

Give it a Redbox rental, Google search for a free code, most of you can probably beat it in a day.  Won't cost you a thing!

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