Thursday, August 28, 2014

The (Problem with) Walking Dead Season 2 - Oh, Clementine. Hello, Alice.

 I have to admit that I'm still having "issues" with the second season of The Walking Dead. With the imminent release of the last chapter, I thought I'd get back into it thinking that I stopped playing because I was waiting for all of it to be available. But, I think I'm just having trouble with the whole Telltale games design in general and this game in particular. Mind you, I LOVED the first Walking Dead game! Playing as Lee, I felt a very paternal drive that made me want to do ANYTHING to protect Clementine. I think it's that motivation that's sorely missing from season 2. The actions and words I'm picking for Clem just don't seem to matter. (Worse, I'm starting to "see behind the curtain" when I realize that whatever response I give will end up with the same outcome, just with a different NPC reply.) There are lots of characters, but none of them make much of an impact. Their living or dying has no real affect on me playing as Clem. I don't know if part of this disconnection is magnified because the main character is a little girl and I'm a 53 year old man? I guess you'd have to get more input from female and/or younger gamers. Also, the last game I played, Uncharted, was a action heavy, controller based game. TWD has, at best, crude action sequences that involve WASD presses and Q/E fast button mashing (obviously I'm playing on PC - I found aiming with a controller in this game very difficult and investigating the environment tedious). Maybe it's a matter of hitting a slower paced game too soon? As much as I'm going to regret having to listen to my podcasts undoubtedly praise The Walking Dead S2 as a masterpiece (and I suspect it will be unpopular to even speak ill of it ), I think I'm going to have to abandon it for more interesting fare.

**Update** - Well, not everyone thought the finale was a "masterpiece". Joystiq gave it 3 out of 5 and basically criticized the developer for "fixing" the game to placate the objections of players who said their choices didn't matter in the ending. (Yeah, I guess I'm in that group too. Mea culpa.) The result seems to be a watered down experience that may not make anyone happy. I still think that the main problem with the game was that the story wasn't that engaging, certainly not for me. For now, it's been removed from my hard drive and I've moved on to...

 This may end up being the most gorgeous game I never finish. A sequel to the first Alice game from 2000, it kicks up everything in the Lewis Carroll world several notches in the weird category. The scale of the levels is amazing - giant factories with lava-falls, lush gardens with massive statues, and moving platforms over bottomless chasms. I think I tried the first game and didn't get very far into it, but it was a long time ago. I know that the kind of sights I'm seeing in Madness Returns could not have been rendered back then. But, while I'm blown away by the visuals, I'm not sure I'll be able to play the whole game. This is one of those titles that really should have been shorter since there is a lot of repetitive combat, one-shot platform jumping, and needless room exploration. But it's soooo pretty!!!

(After some thought on the matter...) I'm going to do some Defiance over the weekend and maybe some PS4 gaming too. After that, I'll see how I feel about Alice.

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