by Nevs Coleman

Walking Dead. For Mookychick. Nothing to do with Charmed, or indeed Rose McGowan.

Oh Blimey!

So, as some of you might have noticed, this has happened:

I confess Walking Dead caught me a bit wrong-footed. With most Image books, I have a tendency to see how it is by the time issue 5 or 6 roll around. The majority of the issue 1’s they knock out are usually, with a few exceptions such as Shaky + Dave’s ‘Bulletproof Coffin’, Christian Ward and Nick Spencer’s Infinite Vacation,  or Brubaker and Phillips’s Fatale, an exercise in substandard genre fiction. But Walking Dead took advantage of its lack or merchandising cash cows by simply writing with the underlying creed: ‘No One Is Safe!’

And by Golly, they certainly weren’t. I’m not the sort of git who’ll spoil plot points for those of you just getting into Walking Dead via the TV Show or Game, but I will say don’t get attached to…er..anyone. It’s a strong series, but much like Cerebus, doesn’t benefit for reading single issues at a time. ( Cerebus’s letters page was thought-provoking, hilarious and contentious. The Walking Dead’s..not so much.) It does also fall into repetition somewhat. Rick & Co find a place. It’s really nice. Things go wrong. Someone you like dies. Rick starts shouting about the fact that the internet’s not coming back, or something. Then some lesson is learned and they move on.

Replace with NOT MY HAND!, I MISS ANGRY BIRDS! or I CAN HAZ CRAZY SHOUTINGS! as necessary.

This is all leading to the arrival of whoever’s left alive making it to Washington D.C, where the general idea is that it’ll be better prepared for the zombie outbreak and be a safe haven for the survivors. As I write this, We’re a couple of months away from Walking Dead 100 where something…big is promised, but given the sheer amount of horrible things that have happened to the cast, I’m genuinely at a loss to guess what could be done to the poor blighters who inhabit Kirkman’s universe that we haven’t seen yet.

Then there was the TV show….

I really tried to like this, but it was incredibly sedate. Even points that were meant to be both high-octane and morally vague just seemed tedious and also, the theme of the comic seems to be trying to work out if A) Has Rick had a nervous breakdown, given everything he’s seen? B) If so, when did it happen? and C) Will anything happen without Rick turning into some deranged combination of a Town Crier and the last dregs of Speaker’s Corner?

In the TV show, all of the unrest and difficulty seems to have shunted onto Shane, which seems a bit of a cop-out. I got one episode into Season 2 and realised I just didn’t care what happened to, well, anyone. I’m guessing that rooting for the zombies isn’t what you’re meant to be doing, but…

So I was fine with just reading the issues as and when they came in, and then the game popped up on my XBox Live screen. And I was…curious, to say the least. In comics, the idea of a comic dealing with the lives of people surviving the zombie apocalypse hasn’t been tried on such a large scale, and certainly not with the depth of characterization that Kirkman brings to his cast. Equally on TV, the last few years of horror style fiction has been tweened up with a combination of mouthy young people and tweeness that something as potentially brutal as Walking Dead must look like Leatherface invading a very special episode of ‘Glee’ in comparison…

MORE THAN A FEELING THIS!

But in the world of videogames? Frankly, we’re so used to having our nerves shredded to nothing thanks to things like Portal, Silent Hill,  Half-Life 2, Manhunt, Quake…A PLETHORA of virtual narratives exist in order for those of who like nothing more than being petrfied out of our wits at 2am for no good reason. So, already The Walking Dead game is up against stiff competition.

But then, um, it’s not like The Xbox nor the PS3 are bereft of Zombie games, either. From the clowning, pervy slapstick of Dead Rising, to the fear of hearing the Hunter in the distance  and the joy of slinging a molotov at a fat bloke from Left4Dead to the tropical running about of Dead Island with added joy of running over zombies with a pick up truck, or even just throwing a box at their heads.  Even Red Dead Redemption offers the brillant DLC of ‘Undead Nightmare’ which allows you to chase zombie bears about on one of the Four Horses Of The Apocalypse. I did wonder what ‘Walking Dead’ was going to offer me that hadn’t been covered by other games, so, I downloaded the demo...

And, um..

Okay, this ‘Download your game in bits’ idea is an…intrguing one. I’m not a huge fan of having games I can’t trade in taking up space on my hard drive , to be honest. I’m assuming there’ll be some kind of Game Of the Year Edition in time for Christmas. Having watched the teaser trailer, I had a fair idea what to expect.  So, just to remind myself what I had done, I tweeted while I played:

‘Apparently, I am an idiot alcoholic who shouts his postion for zombies to hear + sees tea sets + thinks of bourbon.’

Oh, yeah. So, it kicks off with lots of zombies chasing me, who is a black guy with an injured leg. After panicing a bit, and seeing both a tree I could climb up and a house I can try  to hide inside, I decide to crouch by a porch in plain view. Because. It is incredibly dark despite being mid afternoon. The zombies decide they are bored of their ravenous hunger and just..amble off. Again, Because. Oh look. A teaset. If I had Bourbon, i could drink it out of the tea set.

So, despite the incredible luck of running into history’s only recorded case of bored zombies, I decide to start shouting. I am actually shouting at my Xbox at this point, with the general emphasis being ‘PLEASE STOP TELLING ANY POTENTIAL FLESH-EATERS MY LOCATION!’ And then I ind out what makes The Walking Dead different to other zombie games. That bloody point and click system. Wave your virtual cross hair at a thing and watch as your avatar reacts to it. Which,  um, isn’t quite as enticing, to be honest.

And not helped by the fact that your man appears to be channeling the spirit of Maniac Mansion with his sarcasm. The only things you seem to be able to do at the off are look at a treehouse, a tea set or a swimming pool. Finally, you point your crosshair and the camera decides it’s going to shoot you from the arse, following you as you walk to the door at, er, arse height.

Walking Dwarf more like! AMIRITE?

‘COLOURING BOOK OF OMINOUS!’

Then you look at a colouring book. Frightened? I nearly made a cup of tea. Look at drawer. Retrive thing. Nothing in there. Or there. Hmm. there’s some arsing about until you..fall over?

I HAVE FALLEN. BECAUSE!

Then, after meeting the stupid anchor that you’ll have to look after to make the game more difficult than it needs to be (or ‘Clemetine’ as the game insists or calling it) via a walkie-talkie..

‘I am not a monster.’ You may have guessed this from my use of English as opposed to ‘MUUURGH!’

You meet your 1st zombie. FINALLY, some action, as the undead baby sitter knocks you to the floor as you are the only thing keeping the child from being supper, you wave your crosshair in the face of the zombie and kick her in the face and..

‘Jesus, I must have kicked this bitch in the head ten times now!’

Older readers may remember the Fighting Fantasy series of non-linear books. You’d read through an adventure, then make choices based on what you could do. To pick one option, you’d have to turn to a different page. That choice could lead you to death or further into the game. If this segment were a Fighting Fantasy game, it’d read like this:

P13:

‘The zombie shambles across your legs, her teeth snapping, Only you stand between the undead and the child becoming it’s latest, tasty victim. To KICK the zombie in the FACE, Turn to Page 94.

P94:

Your boot catches the jaw of the zombie, it groans and lurches back towards you. Turn to Page 13.

P13:

‘The zombie shambles across your legs, her teeth snapping, Only you stand between the undead and the child becoming it’s latest, tasty victim. To KICK the zombie in the FACE, Turn to Page 94.

P94:

Your boot catches the jaw of the zombie, it groans and lurches back towards you. Turn to Page 13.

And repeat for ten minutes til finally you work out what you’re MEANT to be doing.

” ‘Did you kill it?’. No. Most humans survive having a clawhammer wedged in it’s eye. Fucking kids! ”

I might have lost patience with the game at this point.

And that’s really as much as I could be bothered with. I’m more than willing to acknowledge there is an absolute army of point and click fans out there, given the cult like status of games like Monkey Island and such, but the format just leaves me utterly cold. Compared to the thrill of sneaking up on The Witch in Left4Dead 2, and cutting her in half with a chainsaw in realtime,, blood gushing all over the screen in a way that makes you jump back, the lifeless act of watching a cutscene take place with no interaction really pales. So, after playing through to the end of the demo,  Idecided to save the 400 MSP that’d it’d cost me for the 1st episode. Sorry. There’s some downloadable content for Saint’s Row 3 I really want…

The Walking Dead game, then. For people who don’t like getting dirty.

 

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