Walking Dead, The: Survival Instinct (Video Game)
Developed by Terminal Reality
Available for Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, PC and Wii U
In The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct players step into the shoes of Daryl Dixon in an action-packed prequel where you must try to reunite with his older brother, Merle. If you manage to complete this task, then you still have to make it out of the South in one piece against hordes of undead zombies during the apocalypse. Be warned, though, as The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is just as much about scavenging and survival as it is shooting your way through hordes of the undead.
The basic premise of the game is to make it from Point A to Point B, and on the way you will want to preserve gas; you can stop when you need to in order to collect fuel and supplies to keep moving. Curiously enough, despite the emphasis on the importance of gas, you never actually do any in-game driving. Instead, you rely on an in-game map to keep track of your movements. As players progress, they may notice that a lot of the areas look about the same and can get repetitive. You will encounter survivors as you go, which can help scout for supplies, but since only so many can fit in the car, you often have to make hard choices of who will continue the journey with you. However, if you send survivors out unprepared while scouting, then there is also the chance they may not make it back so you won't have to worry about who gets to go. If you're sadistic, why not send them out unarmed just because they annoy you? It's the little things, I tell ya!
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is a rather short game, clocking in at about six hours, and during that time you will find that some of the gameplay elements are way more entertaining than others. Players are equipped with a variety of weapons such as rifles and shotguns, but remember that ammo is limited so it is usually smarter to conserve bullets. Melee weapons are much easier to locate and use and can be found scattered around most of the game environments. Firearms draw in large hordes of the undead and are usually impractical through most of the game. Players will find using their knife, axes and pipes to be the best way to survive. Plus you'll also get to see those nasty up-close-and-personal zombie killing scenes that are delightfully gory.
Zombie behavior in the game is pretty erratic. Sometimes walkers can spot you from miles away without the least bit of disturbance, and other times you can shoot your gun repeatedly over their heads and they won't even budge. This can be aggravating for some players who probably find this unrealistic in comparison to what we know about zombies. However, just as in life, things are unpredictable; and that is just what The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct gives you. The undead can easily be distracted if you get overwhelmed, and Daryl can throw flares in order to get them to move along to certain areas. In one of the more genius aspects of the game, the walkers can actually smell you. Now we know the Dixons don't exactly look as if they shower much, but I bet you're wondering how this is possible. When using the sprint function, you will see beads of sweat form on the screen. The scent of said perspiration actually attracts the dead so you may not want to be rushing around that much.
Your best tactic is to take out unsuspecting zombies when you have the chance for a silent kill, but be prepared for some at times laggy animations afterward. Speaking of which, the sound and graphics in The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct are less than desirable. In comparison to other first-person shooters on the market, everything seems very first generation. Second if we're being generous. At least we have Bear McCreary's signature score to get us through at times. In terms of gameplay the game's mechanics are lacking and often cause problems when trying to switch between firearms and melee during combat. Jumping feels strangely stiff as well. These elements can be frustrating, but they won't get in your way that much. All in all, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct could have been improved in many ways, but it still delivers the horror and zombie action that we have come to expect from The Walking Dead universe.
The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct can now be purchased for the Xbox 360, PS3, PC and Wii U. The game is rated M for Mature for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, and Strong Language. To learn more, visit the official The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct website.
3 1/2 out of 5