The Walking Dead: Episode 2 PSN review – previously, on The World Wants To Bite Your Face…
The first game impressed with its smart storytelling and consequence-driven gameplay, and while part two is slightly more clichéd and mechanically clumsier in places, it’s largely more of the same Romero-inspired goodness.
We still haven’t quite forgiven Telltale Games for what it did to our beloved dino flick with its downloadable Jurassic Park game – a violation against PlayStation, velociraptors and Jeff Goldblum – but with every episode of this undead gem it comes a little bit closer.
A quick catch-up for those who were washing their hair during Episode One: you’re playing Lee Everett, a man who escaped a cop car when it hit a zomb and who has since taken custody of a young girl, Clementine, whose parents presumably went the way of being a square meal for one of the ever-expanding raft of undead.
Making pals with a fellow band of survivors, the second instalment sees you holed up in a motel trying to ride out the storm of shufflers. However three months have passed, food supplies are running out… and Lee’s shirt is in serious need of a proper wash and press.
It starts out in dramatic fashion as you happen upon more survivors in the nearby woods, before moving into familiar horror movie territory: the family with the idyllic and well-fortified dairy farm /seem/ nice enough, but are they really trying to steal your supplies/makes you their slaves/use your skin to make an enormous hang-glider with which to escape the horror? The fun is in the not knowing for sure, but if you don’t even have the slightest reservation then you’re probably the sort of person who e-mails his bank details to every deposed Nigerian prince who comes knocking.
As you’d expect, the gameplay mechanics are the same as before: a mix of environmental exploration, QTEs and – for the most part – talking things through with your new group of friends. Decisions you made in episode one carry over, so anyone you befriended or offended previously will still be warm or wary towards you.
With the group unravelling as survival gets harder tensions are running high, so you’re increasingly forced to make your allegiances clear and, as the saying goes, you can’t please all of the zombie survivalists all of the time, especially when one of them is a cantankerous old git who hates everybody.
Unfortunately, Episode 2 has some problems not prevalent in the pilot, namely sections in which the QTE mechanics get a bit clumsy, so that failure can arise not from poor decision-making but from simply being unable to see the on-screen prompt. There are also frequent incidents of lag – you can see the game recalling a previous decision you’ve made in order to play out the correct outcome or line of dialogue, and it increasingly means that the action judders to a near-halt at key scenes.
It’s also more predictable, with fewer affecting decisions than the first part, but that’s not to say that you won’t umm and ahh over what to do on multiple occasions. This is still an excellent piece of narrative-driven gaming, where you grow attached to the cast and enjoy/endure the consequences of your actions. It’s where Heavy Rain meets the zombie apocalypse, and that should be enough to sell anybody.