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"[Game] The Walking Dead: A New Frontier - Eps 1+2 - PC/XBox One/PS4"

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Sun 01/01/17 at 23:58
Regular
"Braaains"
Posts: 439
A full two seasons in, I honestly thought I’d got used to Telltale’s The Walking Dead. I was well acquainted with the relentlessly bleak nature of this episodic game series. I’d even come to terms with the fact that, despite Telltale’s assurances to the contrary, the bulk of my in-game choices amounted to naught. An hour into Ties That Bind, the two-part opener to the third season of the game, I realised how utterly wrong I was.

This new season delivers hitherto unimagined levels of torment, so much so that I wonder if Telltale – through some demonic pact - secretly draw strength from their players’ collective anguish. I freely admit that I cursed their very name when, in flashback, one of my favourite characters was cruelly and effortlessly dispatched. Yet, despite all the woe that this opening chapter heaped upon me, I loved every misery-sodden minute of it.

The Walking Dead: Season 3, subtitled ‘A New Frontier’, casts you, once again, as a character struggling to live through a zombie apocalypse. Surprisingly, however, you don’t play as Clementine, the previous series’ protagonist, except in a few brief flashback sequences. Instead, the Torch of Relentless Despair (TM) has been passed along to a new character, Javier who, along with his sister-in-law and two nieces, has been surviving on the road since the dead rose.

The sudden change in perspective is genuinely refreshing, bringing with it a whole new set of problems since, as Javier, you are directly responsible for the survival – or otherwise – of your family. This is a direct contrast to previous games where you were only really expected to look after one other character at most. It’s a testament to the quality of the game’s scripting that I found myself giving a hoot about the characters. All too often, games introduce characters and expect the player to care about them just because, a misstep that Telltale have managed to avoid.

While the series may have switched protagonists, New Frontier retains the series’ core mechanics. Gameplay entails roaming around various locations in sequence, dispatching with – as well as the occasional bandit - and speaking to the equally unfortunate survivors who you stumble across. Combat involves button-pushing quicktime events but New Frontier is very forgiving in this regard and actually accepts any button input as correct. Thusly, it’s genuinely hard to fail these events, allowing you to focus more on character interaction.

One key strength of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier – and, indeed, the whole Walking Dead series – is how well written the characters are. True, the voice-acting is top notch, as is usually in the case in Telltale games, but even the characters who act as antagonists feel very real. Since the game takes place roughly four years after the zombie apocalypse, it features a welcome shift in tone that sets it apart from previous seasons. As is suggested by the title, the game feels very much like a western, survivors re-establishing themselves in small wasteland outposts, away from the cities. Frontier law is very much in evidence.

Furthermore, the game has undergone a significant graphical facelift since the last season, the end result being that the characters – both human and zombie – appear more detailed. This latter change has been enabled in part by Telltale’s decision to drop support for last-gen consoles, though 360 and PS3 owners still have the option to transfer their saves. So when one of the characters you’ve grown attached to has their face chewed off by a walker, you can savour their demise in glorious HD.

And believe me, you will find yourself bidding many a bloody farewell. The Walking Dead: A New Frontier sharing its source material’s predilection for bumping off characters at short notice. The second part of this two part episode is marginally less harrowing, but the first episode’s death count easily reaches double digits. I’m not going to spoil things by saying whether nor not the death toll includes any characters you might become attached to but I have my doubts as to whether even fan-favourite Clementine will survive this season.

The series’ key flaw, one that has been carried over from previous seasons, is that while the game does proclaim that your choices matter, they actually have relatively impact. I understand that it would be impractical to account for all player choices, but in practice your choices only affect the dialogue itself, not the game's key events.

This gripe aside, A New Frontier promises to be an excellent addition to the Walking Dead series, taking things to a new level. Equally accessible to long term players and people who are new to the series, it offers drama, tragedy, and fluffy kittens (kittens not included.) Well worth the entry price, especially if you're a fan of the series or zombies in general.
There have been no replies to this thread yet.
Sun 01/01/17 at 23:58
Regular
"Braaains"
Posts: 439
A full two seasons in, I honestly thought I’d got used to Telltale’s The Walking Dead. I was well acquainted with the relentlessly bleak nature of this episodic game series. I’d even come to terms with the fact that, despite Telltale’s assurances to the contrary, the bulk of my in-game choices amounted to naught. An hour into Ties That Bind, the two-part opener to the third season of the game, I realised how utterly wrong I was.

This new season delivers hitherto unimagined levels of torment, so much so that I wonder if Telltale – through some demonic pact - secretly draw strength from their players’ collective anguish. I freely admit that I cursed their very name when, in flashback, one of my favourite characters was cruelly and effortlessly dispatched. Yet, despite all the woe that this opening chapter heaped upon me, I loved every misery-sodden minute of it.

The Walking Dead: Season 3, subtitled ‘A New Frontier’, casts you, once again, as a character struggling to live through a zombie apocalypse. Surprisingly, however, you don’t play as Clementine, the previous series’ protagonist, except in a few brief flashback sequences. Instead, the Torch of Relentless Despair (TM) has been passed along to a new character, Javier who, along with his sister-in-law and two nieces, has been surviving on the road since the dead rose.

The sudden change in perspective is genuinely refreshing, bringing with it a whole new set of problems since, as Javier, you are directly responsible for the survival – or otherwise – of your family. This is a direct contrast to previous games where you were only really expected to look after one other character at most. It’s a testament to the quality of the game’s scripting that I found myself giving a hoot about the characters. All too often, games introduce characters and expect the player to care about them just because, a misstep that Telltale have managed to avoid.

While the series may have switched protagonists, New Frontier retains the series’ core mechanics. Gameplay entails roaming around various locations in sequence, dispatching with – as well as the occasional bandit - and speaking to the equally unfortunate survivors who you stumble across. Combat involves button-pushing quicktime events but New Frontier is very forgiving in this regard and actually accepts any button input as correct. Thusly, it’s genuinely hard to fail these events, allowing you to focus more on character interaction.

One key strength of The Walking Dead: A New Frontier – and, indeed, the whole Walking Dead series – is how well written the characters are. True, the voice-acting is top notch, as is usually in the case in Telltale games, but even the characters who act as antagonists feel very real. Since the game takes place roughly four years after the zombie apocalypse, it features a welcome shift in tone that sets it apart from previous seasons. As is suggested by the title, the game feels very much like a western, survivors re-establishing themselves in small wasteland outposts, away from the cities. Frontier law is very much in evidence.

Furthermore, the game has undergone a significant graphical facelift since the last season, the end result being that the characters – both human and zombie – appear more detailed. This latter change has been enabled in part by Telltale’s decision to drop support for last-gen consoles, though 360 and PS3 owners still have the option to transfer their saves. So when one of the characters you’ve grown attached to has their face chewed off by a walker, you can savour their demise in glorious HD.

And believe me, you will find yourself bidding many a bloody farewell. The Walking Dead: A New Frontier sharing its source material’s predilection for bumping off characters at short notice. The second part of this two part episode is marginally less harrowing, but the first episode’s death count easily reaches double digits. I’m not going to spoil things by saying whether nor not the death toll includes any characters you might become attached to but I have my doubts as to whether even fan-favourite Clementine will survive this season.

The series’ key flaw, one that has been carried over from previous seasons, is that while the game does proclaim that your choices matter, they actually have relatively impact. I understand that it would be impractical to account for all player choices, but in practice your choices only affect the dialogue itself, not the game's key events.

This gripe aside, A New Frontier promises to be an excellent addition to the Walking Dead series, taking things to a new level. Equally accessible to long term players and people who are new to the series, it offers drama, tragedy, and fluffy kittens (kittens not included.) Well worth the entry price, especially if you're a fan of the series or zombies in general.

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