Warhammer Gets The Total War Treatment


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Creative Assembly has made a name for itself creating just type of game and for fans of their titles that’s all well and good. Not every studio has to make every type of games. Some just figured out a way to do one type and just get better and better with each new title. This studio is one such company and even with Sega acquiring them they haven’t missed a beat.

Now, the studio ventures beyond the historical realm that the Total War series has always been based on. With Total War: Warhammer the studio now enters the realm of the epic fantasy. Nothing shouts louder in the epic fantasy genre than the world created by the minds over at Games Workshop with their Warhammer Fantasy gaming series.

While there’s still no release date as to when Total War: Warhammer will come out this title has already made my “buy-list” whenever they do announce the date.

First Impression: Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead: Episode 3 “Long Road Ahead”


What is there to say about Telltale Games’ work on the adventure game The Walking Dead other than they seem to have gotten exactly what has made the comic book series so popular with both readers and critics. The show has slowly gotten to the same level, but not until Telltale Games has a spin-off of Robert Kirkman’s title gotten it all right. The first two episodes has been a great exercise in showing the panic, strain and utter despair that falls on the remaining living survivors of a zombie apocalypse that has descended on the world.

Episode 3, “Long Road Ahead”, continues where the previous episode left off with Lee, Clementine and the rest of the group back at their walled off motel compound outside of Macon, Georgia. It’s only been a couple weeks or so since the events at the dairy farm and we see the added strain of dwindling supplies has brought on. We also see the decisions made by certain characters at the farm affecting the group and creating even bigger divisions between Lily and Kenny. Stuck in between these two strong personalities is Lee (the player) and this episode does an even greater job of making his decisions that much harder to pick when situations (usually stressful ones) come up.

This episode has been seen by fans of the games as the turning point which has cemented this title as one of the best games of 2012. The writing continued to improve under the pen of Gary Whitta who seem to be channeling his inner Kirkman as some heartwrenching moments and deaths occur throughout Episode 3. One such death has become one of the biggest WTF moments in gaming for 2012 that  I would be surprised if it doesn’t make many top 10 lists for the year when it comes to gaming’s biggest moments. I know that the sequence surprised me which led to lots of stunned silence, followed up by screaming at my TV then admiration for actually pulling off something that could turn off many players, but instead hooked those still on the fence about whether they should continue playing this episodic title.

The other deaths in this episode were more of a slow burn where we already know the fate of one of the characters and the reaction of another to this situation was unbearably sad, but understandable considering the situation which led up to it. All througout these situations the player as Lee was forefront in how things developed and the choices one gets to choose from doesn’t telegraph how things would unfold. It didn’t help that the timer on making each decision still added a level of stress that most games never fully grasp despite higher budgets and better graphics.

If there was one thing that kept this episode from becoming truly great it’s the controls when something interactive actually occurs where players have to do more than choose what to say. It’s still clunky and awkward on both the Xbox 360 and the PS3, but not as much on the PC which tells me that Telltale Games have been porting the title from a PC base rather than the other way around. For some gamers this keeps the game from becoming immersive despite the great writing, but for me it was a minor inconvenience that never took away from the narrative and the visuals.

The episode ends with a bit of hope as Lee and his group picks up three new faces, but also ends in an ominous cliffhanger as we find out that Clementine may have been keeping things from Lee that could endanger (this being the world of The Walking Dead its a good bet it’ll be dangerous) not just her, but the rest of the group. The fourth episode has now been released for all systems and with the new season of the tv show set to premiere it looks like now is a good time to get back to the Walking Dead state-of-mind.

Episode 1: A New Day

Episode 2: Starved For Help

Trailer: Resident Evil 6 “No Hope Left” Cinematic Live-Action


I haven’t been as big a fan of Capcom’s Resident Evilsurvival horror game franchise (weird considering that zombie fiction and entertainment is like catnip to me), but the upcoming and latest entry in the series has me excited. Resident Evil 6 looks to return the series to its zombie roots after spending the last two titles veering away from it.

While the gameplay still looks to be just something upgraded and tweaked from games past the story itself looks like something that I would find interesting as it moves the danger from being localized to something more global in scope. I’m really hoping that this title brings me back to the franchise which was great in the beginning then began to lose steam and ideas in it’s latest offerings.

This latest trailer takes a page out of the Halofranchise’s marketing book by making it live-action. It might be only 90 seconds but getting a glimpse of how a world reacts to the onset of a zombie apocalypse makes for a nice, brief piece of entertainment.

Resident Evil 6 is set for an October 6 release for the Xbox 360, PS3 and Windows PC.

First Impression: Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead: Episode 2 “Starved For Help”


Telltale Games released the first episode in their adventure game The Walking Dead months ago. Due to some of their past titles not panning out despite hype from the studio this time around it seems like Telltale may have finally found their groove with this game set in the zombie apocalypse world created by critically-acclaimed comic book author Robert Kirkman. With the first episode, A New Day, the company was able to capture the chaos and danger of the early days that was only hinted at in the comic book and in the AMC tv series.

That first episode introduced gamers to the two main characters that would be the focus of this horror-adventure title. Lee Everett and Clementine were characters rare in licensed video games in that they’re original to the title and also one of the better written and realized fictional characters in gaming. The first episode did a great job in setting up these two characters and the world that some thought the problems that has plagued Telltale Games with their episodic titles would pop up once more: great beginnings that would fizzle out with each new episode.

I’m happy to say that episode 2, Starved For Help, doesn’t fall in Telltale Games’ past pattern. In fact, this latest episode in the game actually builds on the strength of the first episode and improves upon what made it fun and very good while minimizing some of the flaws with that initial episode. We find Lee, Clementine and the survivors of the first episode (how a player made their decisions on who lives or dies in the first episode will determine the roster for episode 2) still at the motel complex from the first episode. They’ve been largely kept safe at their makeshift haven but the prospect of dwindling supplies has forced Lee and the group to venture out into the surrounding forest to forage for food. It’s during one such foraging mission that the group comes across another group that would kick-off the story for Starved For Help.

Telltale Games doesn’t try to recap too much of the first episode in this follow-up, but does let the dialogue between Lee and others remind gamers about their decisions in the first episode and how it has affected the situation Lee and his group has itself in. The addition of some new members to the group doesn’t feel forced but actually feel quite welcome as it helps keep the growing rift between two factions in the group from becoming too static. In fact, this episode actually makes some of the decisions made by characters we initially found to be on our side to be counter-productive and dangerous while those who came off as too rigid and confrontational end up being more sympathetic.

It’s during these dialogue sequences where players once again have a timed-limit to make their dialogue choices and decisions that The Waling Deadcontinue to impress. Once again players must make their dialogue-choices from four choices that doesn’t really come off as evil, good, indifferent, etc. It’s up to the player to determine just exactly which dialogue answer best fit the sort of game they’re playing. I’ve played through both episodes trying out myriad of choices available to me and with each and every different choices the game plays out much differently, but still continues to straddle the grey area. There’s no good or bad decision and it’s what makes this game’s dialogue-mechanic so much better than most games that use something similar.

The action part of the episode has some tweaks to QTE (quick time event) combat mechanic that makes targeting a tad better than what was available in the first episode, but this part of the game still remains the weakest link in what has so far been a stellar game. After just two episode I wouldn’t be surprised if most fans of the title just wish for the QTE’s to go away and let actions in future episode be determined by dialogue choices. It would definitely help keep the gamer’s from being pulled out of the narrative immersion they find themselves in.

Starved For Help is a great example of how a studio can learn from it’s past mistakes and improve on the template they’ve decided on from the beginning. Even the story that unfolds in episode 2 is a huge improvement from the first episode that was very good to begin with. We see Telltale Games handle the themes of survival vs living, moral grey areas in an apocalyptic world and survival at the cost of others with deft hands that best exemplifies what has been great about the comic book series. There’s been times when the narrative in the game actually comes off as more subtle and less exposition-heay than Kirkman’s own writing which for some is an improvement in itself.

With two episode now released it’s going to be interesting if Telltale Games can continue their new found groove of keeping things consistently good to great which their past games didn’t seem to have. Now three episodes remain and from the ending of episode 2 the group has found a new reprieve from their dire problem of low supplies, but at a cost that may come back to haunt Lee, Clementine and others.

Episode 1: A New Day

Trailer: Darksiders II – Death Strikes (Part Two)


Darksiders II: Death Strikes (Part One)

The second part of THQ and Vigil Games’ short-film trailer to introduce the character of Death for their sequel to 2010’s Darksiders has now come out and it shows the Pale Horseman of the Apocalypse taking on even more demons and an enormous angelic engine of destruction. We don’t hear Death speak (his voice will be veteran genre actor Michael Wincott), but we do see him in action taking on demons and then finally transforming into his more recognizable Grim Reaper aspect to take on the battle engine.

If there was a game I’m really waiting to get my hands on this summer it will be this game and hopefully the delay of releasing the game on June 26, 2012 to a later date of August 14, 2012 means more polishing and tweaking of the final product before it comes out to the public. Here’s to hoping that when it finally comes out it will not be buggy and be as good or better than the game that preceded it.

 

First Impression: Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead: Episode 1 “A New Day”


When I first heard that Robert Kirkman’s horror comic book series, The Walking Dead, was being turned into a video game I was a bit leery. I’m a huge fan of the comics and, despite some unevenness in it’s storytelling, also a fan of the tv adaptation on AMC. I’ve even bought and read the novel based on the comic book that details the early backstory of one of the series’ iconic characters. So, when it was announced that Telltale Games was going to make a game out of the series I was intrigued, but also worried.

Was the property being milked for everything it was worth to the point that it was reaching oversaturation?

As the months ticked by I read up on updates and news on Telltale Games and its plan for the series. It was going to be based on the comic book and not the tv show. While it won’t follow the characters from the comic book the game will still use some of those characters in cameos that the game’s new lead characters will intersect with. I was all for this but I was still hesitant to fully buy into the game until I actually played the first episode in what was going to be an episodic game totaling 5 distinct episodes.

Episode 1, titled “A New Day”, has been released and over the course of a couple hours in one night I’ve played through the episode and my first impression of Telltale Games’ The Walking Deadis a very positive one.

The game actually begins with the lead character of Lee Everett in the back of a police car being driven to a prison outside of Atlanta. We find out early on that Lee has been convicted of murder, but through conversations with the police officer in the car we get hints that he may not be the bad man his conviction labels him as. The game uses these early minutes of the game to give players a simple instructional on how the controls work and the manner in which players can choose how Lee should answer the person he’s speaking to.

Before one could get comfortable with the game’s control mechanics the story crashes headlong into the horror aspect of the game.

The game doesn’t skimp on the horror and tension the player will experience and this episode does a fine way of making the simplistic controls become part of making encounters with the living dead be very tense and terrifying. Most video games tend to make their controls very precise and accurate, but here the controls are just imprecise enough and timed to make zombie encounters not so simple. Even the action tend to serve the narrative instead of breaking away from it. This is not a game that caters to the action junkies, but more to those who value story, characters and emotion first and foremost.

“A New Day” also introduces the second lead that would become part of Lee’s main story: 8-year-old Clementine.

If there’s been a big criticism of the show based on the comic books it’s that the kids on the show have either been clueless, useless, or dangerous. Clementine from my first impressions based on this first episode seem to be the opposite of tv show Sophia and Carl. She’s resourceful, tougher than she looks but still retains enough of her innocence even after seeing the early days of the zombie apocalypse hit her close to home. The interactions between Lee and Clementine is turning out to be this game’s core and how players treat Clementine looks to affect how future episodes turn out.

That’s where the game truly stands out for me even with just this first episode being the only one released, so far. The story and how Lee interacts with his young charge and other survivors he meets up determines how the episode plays out. Play like a compassionate Lee and people will trust Lee and help him out. Play like a silent, enigmatic tough guy and some characters will accept him while others will be suspicious. A great aspect of this game’s narrative is that throughout this first episode (I’m guessing in the other future episodes as well) the player is put in a situation where he has to make Lee decide which two people he has to save from the zombies. The fact that every character doesn’t come off as one-dimensional that making these life or death decisions truly becomes tough.

Telltale Games has done a great job with this episode to lay down the oft-used theme of human drama and conflict in the face of the apocalypse. While it’s nothing new in zombie literature when it comes to the theme of human survivors being as much a dangers to other humans as the zombies with this episode we’re not hit over the head with it. We get some tense interactions between Lee and particular survivors, but nothing that boils over into outright violence. There’s enough distrust introduced with this first episode that we get a sense of danger from within not just from the outside.

I played the game on my Xbox 360 and the graphics is not super-high quality. What the developers do end up doing is giving the game a nice comic book art-like aesthetic which further puts it in line with the comic book series and not the tv show. For a price of $4.99 (400 MS Points) The Walking Dead: Episode 1is worth the price even if a player can easily breeze through it in just a couple hours. It’s how choices (both dialogue and action) made in the game changes the storyline that gives this first episode long-term re-playability. I’ve already done two playthroughs and with each one I’ve made different choices which clearly changed how certain characters acted towards me and how certain scenes unfolded.

So far, Telltale Games has done a great job with The Walking Deadand if this first episode was any indication then players will definitely be waiting for the future episodes with anticipation.

Trailer: Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead (Debut)


This week saw the release of a particular type of video game. The game is Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead. Yes, you heard correctly. It’s a video game based on the horror comic book series by Robert Kirkman that has become one of TV’s biggest sensation (despite some issues with characters and storytelling) with it’s own tv series.

Telltale Games’ adaptation brings a new angle to the story Kirkman has been writing for almost ten years now. It’s unfolds from the very first days of the zombie apocalypse but still set in the Atlanta-area. Themain characters in the game is one Lee Everett who comes across a young girl during his search for a safe spot. Together the two of them must survive the chaos of the zombie apocalypse’s early days and not just from the zombies, but other survivors they come across in their journey. While the game introduces new characters the people at Telltale Games will have the main characters come across some of the characters from the comic book/tv series.

As mentioned earlier the game will come out as five episodes that players buy the moment Telltale Games releases a new one. The game pretty much acts like an interactive episode with the player making difficult decisions both practical and moral that changes the tone of each player’s particular game. Unlike most zombie games which tend to focus more on action and shooting this title will focus heavily on story and characters.

Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead has now comes out with it’s first episode for the Xbox 360, PS3 and Windows PC with versions for Mac OS X and iOS coming sometime this summer.