The Walking Dead: Episode 2: Starved for Help Review (XBLA)
Posted by Jim Cook, Jun 29, 2012 16:55
Set three months after the opening episode, The Walking Dead: Episode 2: Starved for Help continues Lee’s adventures in a society that has all but collapsed in the face of a zombie apocalypse. In many ways, this is ’more of the same’; you walk around, gather objects, fight off the undead, talk to people, and make decisions that affect the story. It’s the writing that makes this episode stand above its predecessor. The concepts and choices at hand are often very clear, though excellent pacing and use of ’you cannot please everyone’ mechanics ensures that the consequences of these may not be obvious and there isn’t always a perfect answer.
While zombies obviously make an appearance, much of this episode’s focus is on friction between the survivors at the motor inn and how they react to outsiders. With food stocks nearly depleted, Lee has to decide how to dole out extremely limited rations... and this is followed by encounters with other bands of survivors. Are they friends? Enemies? Are they being honest with you? While a few story elements are immediately obvious and try ’twists’ that don’t quite pay off, the majority of them have you weighing options, evaluating what you’re learning, and considering where various situations are going.
Of course, there are some linear sections. Much like before you will face ’quicktime events’ where you have to mash buttons or quickly aim the cursor and press the right command in order to avoid being killed. These essentially have two outcomes, win or die and try again. As in episode 1, those desiring inverted controls will be out of luck here; this omission did cause me to get Lee killed once during a fight. Thankfully I got it right the second time, so the net time lost was about thirty seconds. The lack of inverted controls remains a ridiculous mistake in a 2012 game release, but I’ll mostly forgive it if the worst that happened was being set back a mere half-minute in an episode the lasts about two to four hours.
This episode is also our first glimpse at the persistent save file. It has been a while since I played the first episode so I don’t remember everything I did, but a lot of things I clearly recall made an appearance in this one. Characters I saved beforehand showed up again here, those who died remained dead, and even certain conversation choices carried over. This is fantastic, and drove home the point that Walking Dead isn’t just a game about surviving zombie attacks; this is a human drama, a narrative which is really driven by the characters and how you choose to interact with them.
Rating: 5.0, votes: 3