The Walking Dead by Telltale games is an episodic, interactive, point and click story adventure. It’s a story driven by decisions you make, and dealing with the consequences of your actions. Season 1 of The Walking Dead comes in 5 parts, and there’s a final bonus DLC titled “400 Days”. The main story is contained within the 5 episodes, and is not tied to the DLC, but you do get to see and experience more of the world and peripheral characters from the main story in the DLC.

 

STORY

 

The game takes place in Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead. A zombie infested post apocalyptic world where people try to survive. You play Lee Everet, a convicted murderer on his way to jail out of Atlanta when the zombie breakout occurs. The police car he was in wrecks, where he escapes the zombies to a nearby house to find a young, abandoned girl named Clementine, and they begin their search for a safe place together.


Along the way, you travel to several different places, meet many different people, face impossible situations and just try to survive. Choices are difficult, and consequences severe. Many times I catch myself wondering how anyone could possibly make these choices, and I question the morality of my every choice.


You’ll take roughly an hour to 2 hours per episode, depending on how many people you talk to, and how fast you choose to progress with the story. I’ve done both and I found it satisfying to take my time to speak with everyone before moving on. This game is not meant to be rushed, and it wants to bathe you in its world, so let it. If you speed up to the ending, you’ll just miss the beautiful scenery on your journey there.


Characters are deep and well thought out. They have their own agenda, their own motives, and are not cardboard stock characters. Though, you may see one or two stereotypical archetypes. You’ll know who. I strongly suggest talking to everyone, understand their characters, because what they say gives you more relevance to their story and how they feel towards different situations you may come across later.

 

GRAPHICS

 

The graphics in this game is nothing to boast about. The art style is similar to Borderlands. Think grungy thick outlines and pastel colors. That’s about it. You can’t come here expecting real-time high dynamic range rendering. Not gonna happen. Graphics are just not the focus here.


The interface is pretty simplistic. A mouse cursor dots to show you what you can interact with, dialog options with a timer, and that’s about it. You don’t even have an inventory menu, just a small bar by the side to tell you what you’re currently carrying. Minimalist. In an age of massively complex HUDs and UIs, sometimes simple is the right way to go.


Despite the lack of photo-realistic graphics, the game still manages a good range of scenes and different light dynamics. Scenes are varied and change fast enough for you to enjoy the different moods of the story without getting bored in between.

 

SOUND

 

The sound in the game is passable. The Foley's well done, and you feel like you’re in those places, be it a farm, in the forest, store, whatever. Adding to the good Foley is the music. Tense music gets you on the edge of your seat while you wait for a zombie attack, and melancholic music plays as Lee contemplates or mourns over a bad choice or wallows in self-pity, which he does if you choose to.


The crux of the sound in this game lies in the voice acting. This interactive game would break down without a good cast, and they did a good job selecting one. The voice actors play cleanly to their parts. You get to see a huge range of emotions from the voice actors, and nothing feels out of place as they scream in rage or despair at their situation, making their plight all the more believable. It’s quite an experience.

 

GAMEPLAY

 

The game controls are pretty simple. You get your standard WSAD movement and your mouse to interact with objects. There are QTEs in the game where you have to mash Q followed by E. It adds tension but serves nothing more than breaking the monotonous tempo of clicking and dialog.


There are side puzzles in each scenario for you to solve too. Find a screwdriver, unlock a door, make some noise, simple things. The difficulty is not high enough for you to get stuck, and they don’t offer you help or tips to solve them. Either way, the puzzles are just to keep you active and engaged while they tell the story.

 

CHOICES

 

And finally, the main attraction and problem with the game. Choice making. First with the juicy.


I liked how choices worked in the game. The many choices I made impacted the way the story moved, the reactions from the game CAME from my responses and the game world changed exactly according to how I acted in every situation. Honesty in certain situations gained trust led me to gains I didn’t expect would come from the brunt truth, and telling lies of withholding information might prove advantageous at times, and detrimental to others.


The things I said had weight, and my opinion, or lack of, mattered. Choices come with a silence option, and I could simply choose not to speak and allow the other characters to come to their own conclusion. And whether I did or said something, or not, mattered. The world moved on with or without my involvement, and that breathed life into the world of the game. This wasn’t some RPG which skidded to a halt if I didn’t continue the main quest, it was REAL, and I could buck up and survive, or just die of ignorance and inaction.


There are lessons in social interaction with this game. And all through the game, you see the consequences of your past actions show up here and there, and the world starts to shape with these little details of the specific decisions I made in the beginning, and this is what the game does best. It involves you in the greatest form of storytelling, by inviting you to help tell the story, and see a world built from the consequences of your actions, and there’s no greater attraction than that. To helped carve the story, that was an amazing experience.

 

PET PEEVE

 

There is, however, one issue I had with the game. A HUGE issue. See, I’ve played the first Season at least 3 times to completion, each taking a different course of action as I previously had. And during my replays, the game completely broke down for me.


I explained that the most exciting part about this game is about the choices you make in the toughest of situations, and how you deal and survive with those choices and consequences. It made the game feel real. And I felt that my choices actually mattered, that the story was driven by me.


Now, what happened when I played it over, was that I realized that, actually, my choices DIDN’T matter. And this really upset me. There were some that changed minor details along the way, but ultimately, the outcome was always the same. Nothing I chose actually mattered. I was railroaded like any other linear shooter. The game started to unravel, and I started realizing nothing I chose made any impact on the story they wanted to tell. That I wasn’t in as much control of my choices as I thought I was. I wasn’t shaping the game.


Perhaps this feeling of betrayal arose because I liked the game so much. That I had so much love for the world and its characters that when I saw the man behind the curtain I was disappointed. Like how magic tricks are revealed in an anticlimactic sort of way. Although it isn’t really a deal breaker, I like it just as much, but if I didn’t understand the mechanics behind the choice making, it would’ve been better. I’m still going to play Season 2, and the other games telltale has in store for me. It’s just too much fun.

 

VERDICT

 

Without a doubt, The Walking Dead by Telltale games is fantastic. It’s a great interactive story that keeps you on your feet, put you into the shoes of the characters and engages you wholly. You’re left wondering if you could have handled the situations better and made better choices. It’s nothing short of brilliant, and I highly suggest getting it, cause it’s cheap, and it’s worth that single playthrough. Just try not to think too deeply into the choices you make. Because in the end, only you could’ve made those choices.

 





I’ll say it right now. I’m not a Tomb Raider fan. Yes I watched the Angelina Jolie movies, and my first real mobile game was Tomb Raider on the Nokia Engage, it just never clicked. The whole Indiana Jones archeology explorer thing was never appealing to me, and archeology never translated well into games.


Sure there was a rich lore and deep storyline, but it just never stuck, which is why I’m super happy to say this game blew everything out of the water.


Tomb Raider is a reboot, and it tells Lara’s origin story. So here’s the plot. Lara and friends are on the ship ‘Endurance’, looking for the lost kingdom of Yamatai. Lara’s guts and instincts lead them right to it, but a mystical force shipwrecks them and prevents everyone from leaving the island.


So they’re stranded on an island with insane, savage inhabitants, with no way to escape.

 

THE GRAPHICS

 

The graphics are consistent throughout the game. They’re not impressive for this day and age, but they are very consistent. It blends cut scenes, movements and gameplay sequences seamlessly, making a clean, immersive experience. It stands out here and the immersion is a quality many other games today don’t strive towards, and I’m really impressed with it.


Apart from the opening cut scene, most if not all of the cutscenes are in-game graphics, maybe with a touch of color correcting here and there. The game also takes you through different scenes. You’ll climb white snowy mountains, crawl through sewers and trek through beautiful rainforests. And despite the different environments and feels, the game designers made a great effort to make sure everything felt part of the game, part of the world.


No scene felt out of place, and it did a good job of immersing me and giving me that “exploring” feel. Lara would recount events, or rationalize her experiences when I’m scrolling through menus or during downtime, adding to the immersion.


I could also see the developers effort to make the game appropriately realistic. The screen would react to the environment as dirt would cover the screen when I get too close to explosions, blood splatters when I stab things and raindrops during a storm. Sometimes they feel so real I get the urge to wipe my screen.

 

THE SOUND

 

The sound is this game is pretty good. If you can, play this on headphones. The crashing of waves, the soundscape of a living forest, and the dangerous, dead silence of night draws me ever deeper into the game. The mood of each scene is heard, I feel scared when they want me to, excited when I should, and everything in between, because of the good sound.


The score for the game is well done. None of the tracks stay in my head, but they made me feel what was intended. The tribal drums put a rushed sense of danger into combats, and the strings brought the mood of the scene across, elation or despair or the other moods they wanted to bring across.


Camilla Luddington, who does the voice acting and mo-cap for Lara, is sick. Her voice acting is superb, the pain and anguish of the scenes are brought out well, and the emotion in her acting is amazing. Love it. The dialogue was good, and the other characters reacted well to each other.

 

THE GAMEPLAY

 

Tomb Raider is a third person shooter with a good mix of shooting, puzzle sequences, platforming, and QTEs. This game took me roughly 10 hours to complete. The pacing was good throughout the game, and each unique story segment tied in well with the overall picture and overarching plot line, progressing at a speed where you don’t feel too rushed, or slow enough to be bored with what you’re doing.


Controls aren’t too difficult, and they hold your hand through most of it. You might be unprepared at a jump QTE in the middle of a cutscene, or some other thing that requires quick reaction timing, but it’s part of what the game does, and it keeps you on your toes even during the cut scenes.


The game isn’t really difficult. AI is predictable, and you have enough health to soak about 10 or so shots, and you heal after hiding in cover for a while. There are many loot chests across the island, and more from every one you kill, so you’ll never ever be short of ammo. They could’ve added more tension to the game if ammo was more scarce, but that’s a minor point. It just felt easy, but I guess that’s not to stress the newer players. Or just because I was playing on Normal.


Lara’s tools and weapons are neatly packaged. They’re spaced out and introduced slowly so that by the end of the game, you are used to each move and familiar with her whole arsenal. Upgrading is also easy. Collecting scraps allows you to pimp your weapons at the next campsite. You will get only about half of everything upgraded by the end so you’ve got some collecting to do post game if you wanted to, on top of the hidden items and artifacts you missed during the play through.


There were some minor issues I had with the game. They tried to build suspense with a mysterious traitor/bad guy with one of the main characters. That didn’t work for me. Some of the side characters were just red shirts, aka put in to die, and they felt flat and not laid out fully. Yes, this is Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, but more work into the rest of the cast would have strengthened the story even more. And I really have no idea why the islanders would try to kill Lara, but ALWAYS keep her alive when they capture her. Also, there were loose ends which were left unexplained to me at the end of the game. Not cool.

 

FINAL VERDICT

 

Otherwise, This game was an emotional roller coaster. I felt for Lara, I hurt with her, I cried with her. I saw her grow, and I grew together with her. This game takes you through an amazing ride and leaves you full and satisfied at the end.


Tomb Raider is a story first, game second. With solid unintrusive game mechanics, it never pulls you away from the story it wants to tell you, and nudges you on, as a player, to experience every bit of the tomb raider world for yourself. I really love games like this, that pulls you out of reality, inviting you to their world of action and adventure.

It’s really an experience, and this game is every bit of an adventure you expect it to be.






So Bungie wrapped it up with Halo 3, ending the trilogy with a great bang. Then they had the after-party that was Reach, tying it up as a prequel to the first Halo, and handed the key of the franchise to 313 Industries. They were formed by previous Bungie employees to take over Halo, and we want to know if they can continue this legacy for the next 6 games.


I'll tell you now, they did an awesome job.


When we left off at the end of Halo 3, the Master Chief blew up one of the Halo constructs, and barely made it off the planet. The pillar of autumn was torn in half, and Master Chief was blown off to a different part of the universe, and presumed dead by humanity.


But, if you finished the Halo 3 campaign on Legendary, you’ll see that he ended up orbiting a strange mechanical planet, Requiem. This is where Halo 4 begins.

 

THE STORY

 

Cortona senses trouble and wakes the Chief, up from cryosleep. As the story progresses, we find out that Cortona is a year past her AI’s expiry date, and suffering from rampancy. If anyone read the lore, you’ll know that this is irreversible, and a horrible fate awaits our beloved companion.


But we’re not given a break. The chief faces a new enemy, the Prometheans, and a deeper story unfolds before us, and our first proper Antagonist reveals himself.


With Cortona’s rampancy, a tyrant of a commander and the Prometheans, the chief has his hands full, and we start to see the chinks in his armor and get to see a very human side of him in Halo 4.

 

THE GRAPHICS

 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t know squat about graphics. They’re telling me about increase polygons and everything, and sure I don’t really understand it, but HELL I sure appreciate it.


The graphics for Halo 4 are AMAZING! Trust me, take a quick look back to Halo 3, then come back. Everything pops, the stages are HUGE, and every scene and set piece is distinct and unique. From lush, dense jungles, to the cold, clammy, mechanical forerunner structures, your eyes get treated to amazing sights at every turn. It’s really hard to not get immersed in the game.


The Mo-cap is crazy good. CGI scenes are close to movie quality, and in-game graphics are almost just as good. Mackenzie Mason’s facial expressions as Cortona just bring the scenes to life. It’s amazing. Seriously, you’d think they squeezed as much juice as they could from the 360’s hardware. It’s better than ever.


Enemy models have been revised. Details are sharper, and each enemy has their distinguishable physical traits and feel. Jackels recoil at your individual bullet shots and scramble to pull their shield in front of them. Promethean dogs crawl across the walls, a horde of doom, descending upon you, while knights teleport across the field, ready to cut you in half.


With a new lineup of enemies, the Promethean, they blend surprisingly well with the old. They have their own distinctive look, feel, and attack patterns. But despite huge differences, they don’t feel alien to the game. (no pun intended)


Weapon models have also been revised. Each class, human, covenant and Promethean weapons comes in all shapes and sizes, making gameplay a unique choice depending on your load out. You’re never unprepared for a situation if you choose the right weapons.


And of course, The master chief is back, armor scratched and worn away, he looks like hell. But it’s him. His chest armor and pauldrons may have been modified a bit, he gets a more distinct under armor, but it’s him. And after a long 5-year break, it feels damn good to be back.

 

THE SOUND

 

Steve Downes and Jen Taylor as Master Chief and Cortona respectively pulled off spectacular voice overs in the game, and I really think they stole the show. I mean, if I wasn’t so busy putting holes in grunts, I could just sit and watch the two of them talk. The chemistry between them is amazing, and just mind-blowing to watch in action.


All around, they got a solid cast of backup characters, the commander who and who played by, and who and who, delivered solid performances, and drove the story where it needed to go, convincingly.

The covenant have been the foundation of our enemy line, and grunts and jackals sound clearer than they’ve ever been, you’ll gonna be satisfied hearing the gurgling deaths of the Promethean knights and covenant elites.


The weapon sounds all have had a significant upgrade, and the old weapons feel beefier and it’s a lot more satisfying to let off rounds in the game.


The music score was produced by Neil Davidge, and as a Halo fan himself, stuck pretty close to the old Soundtracks, most notable of producers was Martin O’Donnell, and Neil described it as an evolution of the previous Halo music, designed to accompany the new style of the universe.

 

THE GAMEPLAY

 

You’ll get a decent 8 hours in the campaign on an easy difficulty, and about 10 or so on a harder difficulty. The single-player campaign is meaty, fun and very rewarding, which is more than I can say about big industry FPS that is in the spotlight. You’ll have lots of fun.


Multiplayer gameplay is significantly tighter than the previous Halos. Everything great about the series is again replicated. Fast paced action is expected, and if you’re new and joining online, word of the wise, you’ll be feeding if your fps skills are not on par with the seasoned players.


One change that perhaps will take some time to adjust to is the load outs. They’re doing it like COD, and you’ve gotta level up to get anything more than the default load outs, which will end up putting you at a disadvantage if you’ve come in late.


In general, this makes multiplayer a bit inaccessible and frustrating to new, not so competitive players.

 

FINAL VERDICT

 

In the end, I had mixed feelings about it. I mean, still, some levels, are a hit or miss, and its a bit of a grind to get to point A, flip, and proceed to point B to flip another switch. But the game never bores you, and you’ll always find something to love, or to kill, around the corner.


All in all, I think 343 Industries pulled together an amazing job. By the end of the campaign I was bruised, beaten up, in tears, yet extremely warmed by the care and attention to detail 343 put into this amazing franchise.


I think Halo is very safe in the arms of 343 industries, and thank everyone in it for keeping the high standards and meeting the even higher expectations of its fan.


Bring on the next Halo.