Walking Dead: Survival Instinct (Video Game)
Control issues aside, the zombies in the game were another disappointment. The number of zombie types was very limited, to the point that it seemed there were no more than five or six unique undead to fight. The game ghouls all had the same speed, same reactions, and the same weaknesses. Following the show meant the game really couldn't introduce things like boss monsters, but the hoards I faced during the game were more boring than threatening as you plod through the motions killing them. I found it more entertaining to try and work my way through levels where I killed the least number of zombies that I could, knowing that when I completed the level I just had to walk at a steady pace (with the occasional sprint) to get to my safe zone.
Killing the zombies wasn't as much fun as it should be. The melee weapons were lumped into two classes, heavy and slow or light and fast. Bladed or blunt made little difference and fights with machetes and baseball bats tended to involve the same number of repeated attacks to dispatch the undead. Best case was a machete where a light attack followed by a slower power attack would end a zombie, but again the difference between the hand-to-hand weapons was so minor that ultimately it made little difference what was used. Ranged weapons were also a let down. The only rifle with any accuracy was the single shot, bolt action hunting rifle with scope. That allowed for generally quick distance kills. The pistols (only two types that I saw) were hard to aim, the other rifles were not much better and the shotguns, while powerful and easy to aim, didn't deliver the kind of group zombie blasting power that I was hoping for. Basically they were just really good for shooting zombies fast without much aiming. Very much later in the game, automatic weapons (an AR-15 it looks like) are introduced, and they are good to use, accurate and fast, but they don't become available until near the end. The biggest disappointment for me though was the crossbow. The weapon has some great features: it's silent (unlike the guns which bring all zombies in the area running the first time you use them) and the player can retrieve fired arrows (if they hit a zombie) so they are reusable. Unfortunately when you miss, the arrows are invariably lost, even when there is a wall behind your target that should stop them. Even the opportunity to pick up arrows is limited, meaning that by the last levels of the game I had no arrows left and no chance to pick up more. The biggest let down though was that Daryl doesn't even come across the crossbow until more than halfway through the game.
Last but not least in the list of let downs was the game's graphics. The environments lacked detail and the characters were cardboard cutouts. It felt like I was playing a first person shooter that was made for a first generation X-box or Playstation from the turn of the century. Even the movie portions between levels, the point when most games bring out their best graphics, seemed flat and choppy. The environments themselves were very limited; the player is invariably herded through a narrow corridor of play with few opportunities to explore a large environment. During cut away mini-campaigns, when your car breaks down or you run across survivors during the trip between major levels, there are only four or five `sets' for play so you find yourself in the same town, the same garage or at the same diner over and over with supplies and zombies almost always in exactly the same spots each time you visit.
All of these points were annoying, but the game was still playable, and I moved through it methodically, waiting for the plot development and backstory that were the payoffs. However I was shocked when the game ended. I had expected it run for much longer and just when I thought it was going to get interesting, it ended. While challenging, the final level was a let down and the shortness of the overall game play made me feel cheated since I bought "Survival Instinct" at the new release game price of almost $50. I didn't time it, but I estimate it took less than 16 hours of play to finish, beating only last year's "Lollipop Chainsaw" for shortest overall game play, but without that game's humorous story, good graphics and fun characters to make up for it.
In case you can't tell, overall I was very disappointed with this game. I believe that Activision rushed its production to try and release it before the end of the show's third season. They would have done better if they had taken the time to develop more challenging levels, better combat, more ammunition, and most of all by giving the player the chance to interact and work with more AI characters directly during game play. As a fan of the show and the comic I'm glad I played the game just to pick up the small bit of backstory it dropped, but I would not recommend it for any reason other than that. Pick it up used or once it goes on sale, but don't pay more than $15 for it because in my opinion "The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct" was dead on arrival.