The Walking Dead Season 1 Review [PS Vita]

ZOMBIES! Scared you there? Well, I hope not, because let’s face it, everything is choke full of zombies nowadays. A genre that is hated by many, considered a milked out plot line by others, has its own fair share of content. Few games, movies or series do the genre justice. And one of those few is The Walking Dead. The comics are wonderful. The series is brilliant, tackling the emotional trauma the apocalypse sets in people with astounding acting and a gripping storyline. Two games have been produced by the series. One considered to be a beacon of excellence in gaming, earning over 90 GOTY (Game of the Year) awards, released last year on the PC, PS3, Xbox 360 and iOS devices over the course of 5 2-hour episodes, bundled together as Season 1. The other, titled “Walking Dead: Survival Instinct” is considered to be a beacon of misery and horrible game design, released early this year on current generation consoles, the Wii U and the PC.

Here we are talking about the expansion of the former. Developer Telltale, of course celebrating the success of their game alongside teasing DLC and Season 2 info, have decided on expanding the audience of the title. Two months ago they announced that a port will land onto Sony’s PS Vita, alongside a hardware bundle, and just today, confirmed that the Android based, OUYA, will be getting a port as well. We are here to review the PS Vita port. And from the begging, I can tell you that the game offers nothing different at all from all previous versions. It still has the same story, and the same pool of choices. So unless you like to collect all versions of a game you like on as many platforms as possible, if you have finished the game before, I would tell you now that this version doesn’t offer anything more. The only true upside for the Vita version is that the game is bundled with the recently announced 400 Days DLC, which is quite a catch, and offers you a chance to play in two control schemes. One that follows that of the consoles on one side, with the analogues and buttons offering you more precise touch free controls than that of the iOS versions. While, the other mimicking that of the iOS version with the touch based movement and control scheme. The true deciding factor is of course that you can play this version anywhere you want, as long as your Vita has the juice.

Otherwise, if you have never played the game and was just looking for some new Vita games, or happened to buy the recently released, appropriately priced 199$ Walking Dead Vita bunde then I welcome you to the awesomeness of one of the best games of 2012.

As mentioned before, the game offers two types of controls. And the gameplay does differentiate a tad between which you choose to adhere. If you go with the touch route, I noticed that the options or the choices you have have a shorter timing bar, or faster timing bar, I guess to account to the fact that you can immediately press the choice, instead of having to scroll to it. The console control scheme offers a slightly slower clock rate to account for the button scrolling. One minor issue I have is that even though the game allows you to switch control schemes mid game, to actually do so, you need to quit your current game session, go back to the main menu, choose from there and then proceed to loading up the save and continuing. It can be a tad bit annoying.

In terms of gameplay and story the game is pretty much the same as the console, tablet, PC counterpart. It plays exactly the same way and the story is exactly the same. I wont delve deep into the details surrounding the story, but I will tell you that it puts you in the shoes of a man called Lee Everett, and serve as the back story to the series, by showing you some of the details of how the zombie infection started and spread, and it affect on society. I will also warn you that it is a deeply emotional game, especially when the game hands you the choice of consequences in certain spots that range from dialogue responses, to character preferability to life and death situations.

Now you might be thinking to yourself, with the combined options of control and the near perfect gameplay, this would make the Vita version the definitive one, right? Well, sadly, the port isnt without its issues. I noted two particular downsides. The first is in the game’s graphics. While certain portions of the game, especially in the comic book cell-shaded art style are down right gorgeous, especially on the Vita’s OLED screen, some textures and pieces in the environment look rather blocky or flat, and it creates a somewhat imbalance of how beautiful it can be at times, offering a style that beats the console version, and how bad it can get to actually looking worse than the one on the iPad 2 (It does not run on older iPads). Do not get me wrong, it looks spectacularly sharp, but sometimes it does seem a bit off. Now moving on the the more serious issue. The game does from some serious cutscene lagging. It does not happen in any of the choice moments or actual gameplay, but the moment when the game is switching from the choice screen or gameplay into a cutscene. It does not render the game unplayable by any means, or become overly annoying, it just seems very off and distracts from the gripping gameplay of the game. I tried to fix it, or tracing it back to my Vita, but with a quick search online, i found that many other users are experiencing the same issue, so it is clearly the game’s fault. I am hopeful of possibly having a patch fix the aforementioned issues.

The Walking Dead is spectacular, in series, comic of game format (Bar that horrible Activision game). Would I recommend this game to everyone? Well, not entirely. If you have yet to play the game, and have a Vita, or plan to get one soon, then the bundle or the game alone are an excellent way to kick start your games library on the platform. Yes, issues do exist, but they are not deal breakers, and do not detract from the experience whatsoever. Otherwise, if you have played it before or dont happen to have a Vita, then the original release of the game on all other platforms dont offer anything less, so I urge you to revisit it again on your platform of choice. And if you have not played it yet, then what the hell are you doing here? Go and do yourself a favor and download it ASAP and enjoy the masterpiece.

The game is now available to download from the PlayStation Store on the PS Vita.

Filed under: Gaming Reviews